Follow effective action with quiet reflection.   From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. ~ Peter Drucker

Follow effective action with quiet reflection.  
From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.

~ Peter Drucker


One of the key behaviors of successful people—in life and in work—is the ability to self reflect. 

Often when we ask the question, “As you reflect on this experience, what have you learned?” we find that people don’t really know what we mean when we ask them to reflect on their experiences. 

Their response makes a lot of sense as many of us have never been taught the how and what of self reflection and many report feeling “stupid” when they don’t know quite what to do. Since feeling stupid isn’t good for anyone, here’s some advice on how to effectively pause and reflect. 

Reflecting is a moment of pause in the chaos of life to consider your thoughts, actions, relationships, and impact. When you reflect, you’re taking a moment to learn from yourself.

As you think about practicing reflection, start by considering when you will be most likely to reflect: 

  • sitting quietly and writing, or just thinking
  • walking (and perhaps occasionally dictating thoughts on your smart phone)
  • sitting in bed in the morning or evening
  • cooking dinner and jotting some notes
  • talking with a colleague
  • meeting with your coach  

As you can see, there’s no right time or way to reflect, you simply need to create the circumstances that remind you to do so. 

You may know us well enough to know that we’re partial to using the first step in our Leader in You framework, which we have called the Fundamental Pause, to support you in decreasing your reactivity and increasing your ability to reflect on what you’re doing and choose how to respond.  

The Pause, as we often shorthand it, can be a small sip of water, a shuffling of papers, or a full out break from the action of your life to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing or what I’m about to do or say in alignment with my goals?”

We’ve done a lot of leadership training and coaching, and truly, this simple nugget can change your life.

If you’d like to do a deeper reflection beyond the Pause, here are five questions for you that can help you reflect on your life.

As you look back over ( fill in the blank ), ask yourself:
Think about filling in the blank with: your efforts on a recent project from the past few days, weeks, or even months. It could also be an interaction you had with a colleague, boss, or family member.

  1. What would make me more satisfied and proud of how I handled myself?
  2. Are there any disappointments I have about my behavior or approach?
  3. Is there anything I’m avoiding that I know is problematic?
  4. How am I contributing to success? How am I contributing to difficulties?
  5. What will help me do it differently next time?

This week, put some time on your calendar to reflect on and learn from your recent experiences, interactions, or projects, so that you can step into your success.

Let us know how it goes,
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you need someone to bounce ideas off of to help you reflect,
we're here for you. Contact us today.