Daily Short-hOPT: On The Importance of Reflection for Leaders

“Some say experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. Perhaps. But I say experience is only as valuable as what we do with it.” – Col. Eric Kail

Short and sweet today.

I actually used the first portion of this quote in a previous post. I heard it in Randy Pausch’s ‘The Last Lecture‘, and loved it. Col. Kail’s addition is fantastic, though. His portion speaks to the importance of reflection. I’d actually go a bit further and add “positive” to “reflection”.

If you’re like me, you tend to dwell in the negative. You remember vividly shortcomings and failures. I’d posit that this is actually fine, as long as you’re able to learn and turn it into a positive learning experience. That’s something I’ve touched on more than once. 

In this baseball offseason, I’ve been reading a lot on the power of visualization as it relates to athletic performance. Most of what I’ve read is about visualizing something before it happens: anticipating what you will do when the ball comes to you, where you need to be if it doesn’t, how you will approach an AB, or how you want to pitch to a certain hitter. Positive reflection works the same way in reverse by putting you back in those shoes and allowing you to reflect on what you could have done better. In Col. Kail’s words, not taking the time to reflect and learn is detrimental to our ability to effectively lead:

“By not reflecting, we engage in a narcissistic rationalization that makes us feel better about the events in our lives yet keeps us from learning from them. There is a natural tendency to attribute all our successes to ourselves and all our failures to forces beyond our control.”

As a leader, it is crucial that you strive to become a better version of yourself every day. This means that you have to be open to learning every day. One path to this is self-reflection. Take the time to reflect on both successes and failures and find ways that you could have done better. Don’t beat yourself up or break your arm patting yourself on the back. Just find that room for improvement. 

It’s always there. 

Have an awesome Saturday,



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