Reflective Practice is defined by Donald Schon as “the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning”.
All the kids are doing it
And by kids I mean masters. Aside from the fact that prominent thinkers such as Schon, John Dewey and Jean Piaget have been talking about it for decades. I think I first noticed it when reading Dale Carnegie several years ago. He has a section in his book where he talks about learning a key element of productivity from a Wall Street Banker who religiously conducted a weekly review every Saturday. His family knew and gave him the time. It was a key to his success.
“Sharpen the Saw”, is one of the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ that Stephen Covey talks about. Think about that. Covey boiled years of reading and research down to 7 Habits (yes, I know there are 8 now) and one of them is about taking the time to reflect, redraw and rejuvenate. Seems important to me.
These guys are too old for you? OK. How about David Allen, who also recommends a weekly review to maintain a ‘mind like water’? Oh, and my personal hero, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton’s Touchpoints Approach (who is the youngest older person I know), maintains that Reflective Practice is key to growing as a professional and growing in your interactions.
I reflect all the time
I have always, quite naturally reflected on situations, circumstances, interactions, accomplishments, and of course, failures. I’m a bit of an associative thinker and I’m sure there’s a touch of “SQUIRREL” tucked in there somewhere. So, I might begin the process of reflecting on an interaction and end up thinking about what it would be like to ride a segway on an ice hockey rink.
Natural is fine, but is it doing anything for you? Natural abilities are wonderful, but what could they be in the hands of a master, someone who is willing to hone and develop those abilities. The question is, how do you hone your abilities to reflect?
Ask the right questions – Framing
These may not be the right questions for you, but I’m going to offer 5 questions here to share with you one possible frame for Reflecting. I have come to understand that for me, reflection has to be intentional, deliberate and framed to keep me focused in order to extract meaning. This means that I have to ask myself the right questions.
What successes occurred this week and how can you build on them?
What struggles did you encounter this week and what can you learn from them?
What remains unfinished from this?
What resources do you need?
How will you approach next week differently?
Don’t allow yourself to give quick and simple answers. Think about your interactions small and large. Think about your relationships with your employees, your clients, your customers. Dig deep and look for the unexpected and overlooked interactions that may just help you get better.
What questions would help you frame your reflections?