How Daily Self-Reflection Improves Leadership Performance
I often tell my clients that a daily practice of self-reflection strengthens self-awareness and will enable them to make better choices. Leaders who work with me to shape and commit to such a practice are better able to tap into their highest potential for creativity, vitality, and success.
Daily self-reflection requires radical honesty yet unfortunately, social norms often seem to encourage the opposite. On social media, we predominantly encounter positive posts as others present only the most positive sides of themselves and their lifestyle. We are just beginning to find out the impact of this. However, a growing body of research suggests that seeing people’s positive posts has negative effects on mood through envy and the feeling that others have a better life.
Some people lie in an effort to make themselves look more desirable or to look more capable than they are. Someone might inflate the successes of a project to a client while failing to mention the significant challenges on the horizon. The problem is that all of these white lies inhibit your leadership potential. Only when you acknowledge your mistakes to yourself (and then to your team and employees) will you be able to succeed. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work whose TED talk is one of the most viewed in the world, has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She advises that we should talk to ourselves like someone we respect, with honesty and tough love. However, most people are held back by the conclusions they may reach. Radical honesty would require us to stand fully in our truth, which may be less successful than we would like others to believe.
Being honest with yourself will help your decision-making, communication and learning become more effective. It will not be instantaneous. Yet, it will become easier as you practice it consistently. Practice results in progress. It is in the times where you feel that you cannot find enough time that reflection will prove most useful.
Create a habit by dedicating the same time of day for your self-reflection practice. I recommend first thing in the morning when your mind is clear and you have not been pulled in a million different directions. This is your opportunity to prioritise what matters most to you and set an intention for the day before your phone starts ringing and your email inbox starts dinging. Alternatively, you might find it easier to reflect back on the day before you go to sleep.
Author: Naz Beheshti