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Taking Advantage of Reflection!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #193 – Listen HERE.

After a few weeks with pneumonia, I couldn't resist this topic! What do you do when you are so sick you can't think straight? You lay in bed and think about all the things you have done...mostly wrong! How fun! As I wished for sleep while ruminating, it made me think about why we avoid downtime...which led to this Tip and some research on the benefits of reflection. Well, reflection that is helpful!

One of the first videos I show in the public speaking classes I teach is a TEDx Talk called “The 110 Techniques of Communication & Public Speaking” by David JP Phillips.  The talk is about 110 factors that make good public speakers good.  The idea is, that the more of these you do, the better you are.

Number 22 is “effective pause.”  Phillips claims, and you can confirm from your experience that we DO NOT like to pause.  We like it so little that we sound like, in his words, “a heard of gaggling sheep” as we “um”, “uh” and “aah” our way out of silence!

I thought of this talk as I was preparing to speak to a group of insurance salespeople last week.  We focused on the pause of reflecting, pressing on or pivoting based on our position at the end of the 1st quarter.  We were working on awareness, assessment and achievement.

But as Phillips jokes in his TEDx Talk, pausing and reflecting is always at the top of our “oh goodie” list of things to do.

But it should be!

Self-awareness is our superpower and to use our “Marvel” capabilities, we must DO something to become more aware!

Building self-awareness demands that we pause and reflect.  Unfortunately, many of us fall into the mindset that Phillips mimics in the video, saying “No, I won’t do it.”

Why do we dislike true reflection…and why do we waste this learning opportunity, especially when we win?


Win or learn, we say so often!  How about learn - period? To learn, we must look around. Why don’t we look under the bed, into the light or in the mirror…are we afraid of what we might see?

As you read reasons why we don’t want to reflect, remember that research shows that employees who spent 15 minutes a day reflecting on what they learned performed 23% better than those who did not (Di Stephano,, 2014).   

Twenty-three percent better!  Time to shoot holes in our why we don’t like to pause!

Havard Business Review author Jennifer Porter in Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection (Even if You Hate Doing It) gives five reasons executives don’t include intentional reflection in their peak performance rituals.  We can try these five reasons on, too, and see if they fit.

Her top reason is that most of us do not understand the process of reflection.  We think it entails only looking at what went wrong.  If we are doing it this way, we are missing out on the true benefits of reflection.  According to Lindsey Hamilton, head of Mental Conditioning at IMG Academy, “Success is a golden opportunity to learn.”

This seems very “duh”, but we aren’t very good at reflecting after a “win.”  I hear it all the time when I talk with my coaches.  “Good win”, I say.  What do they come back with?  “Thanks, but we turned the ball over way too many times,” or something similar!  You do it…I did, too!

So many of the thoughts that run through our minds after anything we do are evaluations and judgments entwined with emotions and this keeps us from looking for what went well…or facts in general!

Hamilton goes on to say “It is challenging to build consistency if you can’t bring back to the table the thing that worked in the first place.  It is challenging to build confidence if you’re unclear on what works and what you are strong at.”

Of course, we will look at what didn’t work. We will always find the places we need to improve.  We are conditioned innately to do that.  But when we look back on our failures AND look back at the things that worked well, we learn faster and more effectively giving ourselves a HUGE competitive advantage!

Who doesn’t want to learn faster and more efficiently? 

Will this lead to complacency?  No research to date says so.  Will we rest on our laurels?  Not if we are truly looking to learn and improve, even upon those things that worked!

Implementing a deliberate approach to learning from our successes is a huge competitive advantage!

Porter’s second reason is that we don’t like the process.  Why? “Porter says reflection requires us to do things we aren’t fond of, like as Phillps says “no thanks” to slowing down.  She goes on to say we must also  “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.”

Porter’s third reason that keeps us from reflecting is that we don’t like the results.   If we set a plan to reflect on winning,  maybe we will like the results better.  No one likes looking at everything that went wrong all the time…especially when it is hot off the press, but adding in the “WELL” in the Well-Better-How? may change our feelings. 

Mark Bennett, director of PDS Coaching suggests we use a “HOT” review and a “COLD” review on our own…without discussion from others.  We reflect on ourselves first, then other aspects of the situation.  The “HOT” review is immediate, right after the experience.  The “COLD” review takes place at least 24 hours later when emotions have settled and facts can be more easily acknowledged.

I am not sure this will help us love the results, but it reminds us that sometimes we get carried away by our feelings and need to review without them in the forefront!

Porter’s fourth reason is VERY interesting.  In her explanation, she cites a study done on professional soccer goalies.  If goalies stay in the middle of the goal, they have a 33% chance of stopping a penalty kick, yet only 6% stay there.  Why?  Because we have a bias toward action. 

We need to DO something!  It makes us feel better…like we are in control.  Staying in the center of the goal makes us feel like we have given the advantage to the opponent because we aren’t doing anything.

Reflection feels like we aren’t doing anything.  But…as we mentioned, it can give us a HUGE competitive advantage!

Lastly, Porter says we don’t see a worthy ROI.  We think the time and energy are better spent elsewhere.  We neglect to acknowledge the fact that we are probably reflecting in some way…and probably not in an effective way.  We ruminate.  We tell the same story over and over.  We shoulda, woulda, coulda.  We are using time and energy and getting NO ROI now. 

Want to waste more time?  Ask “Why?”   We think this will help but “why” questions are focused on understanding our emotions, not improving our strategy.  It doesn’t help us be more aware. 

“What?” questions, on the other hand, help us look for solutions.  This simple strategy shift from “why” to “what” helps us focus on the future, it helps us be more objective and it nudges us to act on the new things we see!

If we want to get better, we don’t have time to beat ourselves up, rest on our laurels or avoid things we would rather not relive.  We need to figure out what to do next.  That can only come from a question that asks “What’s important now?” Restructure your reflection questions to increase your ROI and put that time and energy to good use!

The bottom line: Reflection allows us to pause in our “do more, go, go, go world” with our chatter-filled minds.  We can sort through what happened, look for patterns both mental and physical, consider other interpretations and generate meaning that can help us make our next moves.

As author Peter Druker said, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

Awareness allows us to assess…and achieve!

Manage the moments!!


P.S. Want ideas on ways to use this to your advantage? Reach out today to schedule a session and give them new tools to manage their mindset and performance!  Shoot me a text at 234-206-0946 or an email at and get scheduled today!

Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946 

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