Week 41: Vol. 41. The Value of Reflection

23 Oct

VOL. 41

"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death."


-- Leonardo da Vinci

flow dimension shaded. sp

Every day we enter moments, engage in, and exit them. These are the building blocks of life. Just 788,400 of moments (in hours) takes us to our 90th birthday (if we’re lucky)—a practical reminder of our finite mortal design.

Within the 788,400 moments that will comprise your life how many lessons will you have learned, principles captured, virtues internalized?

In our 45 weeks together so far we have talked much about future planning, performance preparation, and the many self-regulation skills at the physical, emotional, psychological, philosophical, and spiritual levels. We have discussed the power of context, the arena at hand, and full engagement within every Meaningful Life Arena (MLA).

In just the past few weeks we have paid particular attention to the Short Past (SP)—including gathering feedback and measuring results to capture the data and derive value out of every MOP.

Today we are moving towards that Long-Past (LP) dimension (which we will till and cultivate with great passion), but we are not quite there. It is one thing to gather feedback, another to measure results, and yet another to internalize and “own” the lessons of experience.

This is known as “meta-cognition” or “thinking about thinking”—a powerful tool used in almost every educational and training context—and by anybody who is serious about performance—to maximize learning and deepen understanding. This is the essence of “action learning”—a personal process not dependent upon experts, but individual experience. John Dewey had it right: it is a reflection that makes experience educational.

Answer this question honestly:

"How many times (that you can think of) have you made the same mistake more than twice because you failed to capture the lesson the first time?

Take a moment and reflect on your answer…

I don’t know a single person, not even the highest performers, who don’t make this mistake from time to time—but not often. They refuse to let important experiences go to waste. And with a little intentional practice—even a new ritual—anyone can internalize the lessons needed to take his/her game to the next level. The goal is to remove the interference that comes from lessons lost by adding a simple practice that will greatly inform future experience.

Since we have already addressed strategies and tools that capture feedback on a performance by performance basis, I invite you to consider a weekly ritual that will not only help you internalize lessons but will also help you archive a rich history that will build self-confidence—even unveil your life story.

It needn’t take longer than 10 minutes each week, but keeping a personal journal:

  • Allows you to evaluate experiences critically and openly
  • Helps you learn from mistakes and prepare for future challenges
  • Facilitates deep and embedded learning
  • Gives you a place to express feelings without judgment
  • Allows you to keep track of important goals and accomplishments
  • Helps you identify behavior patterns and revise performance strategies
  • Initiates the building of your personal biography

Reflection is a simple process that requires no complex tools. To make it simple, consider and answer these questions each Sunday before you start the week:

  1. What happened this week that was noteworthy (especially critical MOPs)?
  2. What do I need to learn from these experiences?
  3. What good did I discover through these experiences?
  4. What did I discover that I want to avoid?
  5. What principles, tools or behaviors will I take with me into the next week and the future?

Pick one or more of these questions or build your own. The most important thing is to begin the process—on your computer or just a blank journal—and capture what’s on your mind.

Remember, finding more flow comes through planning, executing, AND evaluating your experiences. Each cycle produces wisdom and informs future experiences. To minimize interference and maximize focus use these strategic minutes each week to capture and archive anything that will close the gap in your learning and your becoming. This will not only benefit you now and in the future, but also your children and your children’s children who will benefit greatly from both your successes and your greatest challenges.


  • Spend 10-15 minutes on your first journey entry. Ponder the value of that entry and see if it compels you to do the same for week 2, even week 3…
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