By Staff Writer
The last 7 weeks have been something that perhaps many of us will never see again. Perhaps it is also something many of us don’t wish to see again.
But perhaps, this is mother natures way of getting us all of the treadmill and giving us…the human race, let alone the business racers…some time to take a minute and come up with a ‘new normal’, which like the phrase ‘social distancing’ will become a buzz phrase.
And I mean nothing is ever going to be the same again…
And if you think it is…
Well my friend there is gonna be a big shock coming your way.
For weeks and weeks I’ve been suggesting to people that this is THE best time to reflect, refresh, rebrand and relaunch your business…
That one you are so worried about right now…
Your pride and joy..
The thing that pays your wages….
So this article is giving you an idea how to reflect on your business. Take the time to ponder what you could do; should do and need to do to get the business that you deserve.
When people find out I’m an actual real life business coach, they often ask …how? To be fair I’m shocked too, but they then sometimes ask who my toughest clients are.
Inexperienced business owners? Senior business owners who think they know everything?
Entrepreneurs who bully and belittle others?
Entrepreneurs who shirk responsibility?
The answer is none of them.
The hardest business owners to coach are those who won’t reflect — particularly the ones who won’t reflect on themselves.
At its simplest, reflection is about careful thought.
But the kind of reflection that is really valuable to owners is more nuanced than that.
A little bit more detailed than sitting there thinking about stuff.
The most useful reflection involves the conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions for the purpose of learning.
Thats a posh way of asking why you do the stupid, serious and crazy bat shit stuff you do…
Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning.
It’s the time we usually don’t give ourselves because we are way too busy…just…doing!
This meaning becomes learning, which can then challenge and change future mindsets and actions.
For leaders and business owners, this “meaning making” is crucial to their ongoing growth and development….
…as well as the growth and ongoing development of their business.
Research conducted in American call centres demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did nothing at all. And a study of UK commuters found a similar result when those who were prompted to use their commute to think about and plan for their day were happier, more productive, and less burned out than people who didn’t.
So, if reflection is so helpful, why don’t many business owners actually do it, instead of waiting for a global pandemic to give them no option?
Well entrepreneurs and business owners often:
Don’t understand the process.
Many leaders don’t know how to reflect.
One chap I worked with, lets call him Ken, shared rwith me that he had yet again not met his commitment to spend an hour on Sunday mornings reflecting.
To help him get over this barrier, I suggested he take the next 30 minutes of our 90minute session and just quietly reflect and then we’d debrief it.
After five minutes of silence, he said, “I guess I don’t really know what you want me to do.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t been doing it.”
They Don’t like the process.
Reflection requires business owners to do a number of things they typically don’t like to do: slow down, adopt a mindset of not knowing and curiosity, tolerate messiness and inefficiency, and take personal responsibility.
The process can lead to valuable insights and even breakthroughs — and it can also lead to feelings of discomfort, vulnerability, defensiveness, and irritation.
And we all know how much business owners hate being out of control.
Don’t like the results.
When a business owner takes time to reflect, they typically sees ways they were effective as well as things they could have, should have, would have done better.
Most leaders quickly dismiss the noted strengths and dislike the noted weaknesses.
Some become so defensive in the process that they don’t learn anything, so the results are pointless.
Have a bias towards action.
Like football goalkeepers, or soccer goalies for my American audience, many leaders have a bias toward action. A study of professional goalkeepers defending penalties found that ‘keepers who stay in the centre of the goal, instead of lunging left or right, have a 33% chance of stopping the goal, and yet these goalies only stay in the centre 6% of the time.
The goalies just feel better when they “do something.”
The same is true of many business owners. Reflection can feel like staying in the centre of the goal and missing the action. Except you’re not…just cover your bits incase they hit you there….
Can’t see a good ROI.
From early roles, leaders are taught to invest where they can generate a positive ROI — results that indicate the contribution of time, talent or money paid off.
Sometimes it’s hard to see an immediate ROI on reflection — particularly when compared with other uses of a leader’s time.
So, if you have found yourself making these same excuses, I’m going to help you become more reflective by practicing a few of these very simple steps.
Identify some important questions.
I’m going to ask you some questions…BUT…don’t answer them yet.
Here are some possibilities:
What are you avoiding?
How are you helping your colleagues achieve their goals?
How are you not helping or even hindering their progress?
How might you be contributing to your least enjoyable relationship at work?
How could you have been more effective in a recent meeting?
Now select a reflection process that matches your preferences.
Many people reflect through writing in a journal.
If that sounds terrible but talking with a colleague sounds better, consider that.
As long as you’re reflecting and not just chatting about the latest episode of Tiger King or complaining about a that knob on Facebook, your approach is up to you.
You can sit, walk, bike, or stand, alone or with a partner, writing, talking, or thinking.
Most business owners are driven by their calendars or at least they should be.
So, schedule your reflection time and then commit to keep it.
It’s not as if lockdown hasn’t given you some time that you didn’t have previously…in the months to come you’ll wish you had more!
And if you find yourself trying to skip reflection or avoid it, reflect on that!
If an hour of reflection seems like too much, try 10 minutes.
Set yourself up to make progress, even if it feels small.
It’s more than you used to do and probably more than the ones with their heads in the sand.
Go back to your list of questions and explore them. Be still.
Consider multiple perspectives.
Look at the opposite of what you initially believe. Brainstorm.
You don’t have to like or agree with all of your thoughts — just think and to examine your thinking.
Ask for help
For most business owners, a lack of desire, time, experience, or skill can get in the way of reflection. Consider working with a colleague, therapist, another business owner or coach to help you make the time, listen carefully, be a thought partner, and hold you accountable.