One skill successful leaders utilize is reflection—the ability to pause and analyze the past to better understand the present and the future.
Reflection can be elusive for any founder and CEO. It is rarely mentioned in business circles. Yet, more than two decades ago management expert Peter Drucker wrote about the importance of reflection. Drucker asserted that managers should “follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
When it comes to making great decisions, Drucker understood the need for reflection. Legendary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who guided the team that invented the revolutionary iPhone, also grasped the importance of reflection. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward,” Jobs once said. “So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future.”
Meditation and reflection tips business leaders
Every business leader needs to take time to look back over the tapestry of their lives and learn the profound lessons that come from reflection. Here’s a look at four areas leaders should focus on.
1. Reflect on great leadership thoughts
Leaders can learn a great deal from reflecting on the great thoughts of other leaders. Leadership begets leadership. Wise leaders spend time thinking about and reflecting on the leadership principles of those who have gone before them. They meditate on the great truths of the past and apply those truths to their modern-day circumstances. For example, I’ve found that the Bible is a great book on which to meditate.
Experience Question: What great leadership thoughts should you meditate on today?
2. Reflect on your dreams and desires
Dreams inspire leaders. When leaders neglect to spend time reflecting and meditating on their dreams, the demands of their position and its accompanying activities can become drudgery. Visionary leaders spend considerable time focused on their dreams and visions. They craft the future in their mind long before crafting a vision with their hands.
3. Reflect on forthcoming and important decisions
Leaders who hope to make effective decisions will wisely spend time in meditation before making a decision. Hastily reached decisions are often the ones a leader ends up regretting. While it is not wise to drag out an important decision, it deserves extra consideration first. French philosopher Henri Bergson once gave this advice: “Think like a person of action. Act like a person of thought.”
Experience Question: What imminent and important decision do you need to make that would benefit from meditation and reflection?
4. Reflect on your goals and objectives
Great leaders establish a path for themselves and their organization. The wise leader pauses to reflect on the goals they have set. Many leaders make the mistake of writing down their goals and then never thinking about them again. The wise leader writes out their goals and then spends time meditating on them and how to accomplish them.
Meditation and reflection are key leadership skills. Remember what the late, visionary Steve Jobs said about only being able to connect the dots by looking backward. Move forward into the future, but only as you hold fast to the foundation of reflection.
Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOs and leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. Ken is the creator and facilitator of the Christian CEO Linkedin Group and creator of the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children. Connect with @ken_gosnell on Twitter.
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