“All of us have the spark of leadership in us, whether it is in business, in government, or as a nonprofit volunteer. The challenge is to understand ourselves well enough to discover where we can use our leadership gifts to serve others.” – Ann Fudge
Every time I facilitate a core values workshop, I always ask for a show of hands, “Who here knows their core values?”
I generally have at least 1 person out of a group of 50 raise their hand.
It is still shocking to me that the majority of us cannot confidently declare what matters to us most. Yet, when I look back into my life, I, myself, did not even think about defining my core values until I had encountered a life changing experience (i.e. a divorce) into my mid 30s. A traumatic incident had to occur for me to ask questions like: Who am I? What do I stand for? What is my life purpose?
For most of my life, I did not realize I had made choices that were strongly influenced by others or external factors.
I did not really know why or what I wanted for me.
Taking the time to pause and self-reflect became a necessity for my personal growth and overall well-being.
Why is it so hard to look in the mirror or dig deep into our core?
Here are a few thoughts that might go through one’s mind:
- I know who I am. At first, we may think we know who we are. The truth is, we are growing and changing every day. Not just physically but every experience is a new one that is adding to our lives. We are constantly learning how to adapt and integrate into a new situation. Even if we think that this day seems familiar (like going to work daily), it is actually a new day. Therefore, there is so much more to learn about ourselves as we go through life.
- I don’t have time. The activity of self-reflecting is perceived to be time consuming. The thought of having to create time to sit down and ask ourselves “What did we learn from this situation?” seems daunting. Have you not had an experience where you said to yourself, “Next time, I will be better.” or “Next time, I will respond differently.” It is common that we will react to situations where we wished we could go back in time and change things. What if we could learn from each experience and apply the learning to better ourselves going forward?
- I can’t change. Change is hard for everyone. Whether you have a higher resilience to change, it is still a “life changing experience”. It might just be a little change compared to other major changes. Regardless, whether you think you can’t or don’t want to change, you are changing every day. So remove the “can’t” and replace it with “I am changing” and accept the reality of life.
Now that we understand what could get in the way of self-reflecting, ask this simple question from Byron Katie’s The Work – “Is it true?”
What’s really true about these thoughts?
Likely, it’s all in our heads and we share a similar desire to be the best we can be.
So what can you to do today to start or strengthen the skill of self-reflection?
Follow these quick steps and repeat them annually, monthly, bi-weekly, weekly or daily.
STEP 1: Pause. Create the space for you to quiet your mind even for 5 minutes. To successfully reflect, we must remove any distractions.
STEP 2: Reflect. The act of reflecting is easier when you are guided by questions. Download our Self-Reflection Guide.
STEP 3: Action. Once you have reflected on your whole being and/or a specific situation or experience, it is time to integrate the learning and grow. After each reflection session, commit to one action and apply the learning today. Also, remember to share it with a loved one to hold you accountable. When the action is declared out loud, you have a better chance at completing the action.
To make this a life skill, try making it a habit first. Start integrating the new habit into your daily routine. As it becomes a natural activity, this new habit will become a skill that you can strengthen and share with others.
Which question can you reflect on today?
Please feel free to share with us in the comments below. I would love to hear about your self-reflection experience. It’s always fun to learn together!