Reflection is essential to make sense of our everyday lived experiences. Without reflection, we’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Reflection helps us process our experiences, thoughts and feelings; we can spot patterns of behaviour that may be helpful or unhelpful. With methodical reflection we can begin to plan new and more effective ways of thinking and responding, working and leading. Typically, we reflect on our past experiences. It can also be instructive to reflect from an imagined point in our future, and write about the ‘view from here’.
Here are three such reflection exercises to get you started. You can take one at a time, or try one per week. Whenever you do them, be sure to refer back to your thoughts over time.
The professional speech
The first is an exercise that a former coach of mine set me, and I now often set for Zoomly’s coaching clients. It can be sobering or uplifting; it can give us serious pause for thought – I always find it illuminating.
Imagine that it’s your retirement party – so you’ll need to fast-forward a few years (10? 20? More?) A colleague is giving a speech about you. This person is someone you’ve managed or mentored. What will they say? You’re going to write the speech they’ll give, as though you’re them; therefore you’ll write in the first person, looking back at ‘you’. Use these prompts to help you write that speech.
The personal tribute
For a more personal reflection, you could write the speech a much-loved younger relative (a grandchild, niece or nephew, or a godchild for example) will give at your 80th birthday party. Again, the speech is written from the speaker’s point of view, in the first person.
Your speech for others
When you have completed one or both of these reflections, you may want to tackle a speech of your own. Fast forward to the speech you will give to inspire others. For example:
- You’ve been asked to give a speech at your old college
- You’re asked to address the new intake of apprentices at your employer (for inspiration, you might want to view Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement address or J. K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement address.
You may find this blog post useful: ‘Study the leaders who’ve inspired you’.
Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’, available now at bookstores and on Amazon.
Image frame by sammep / Deposit Photos