At this time of year, many of us feel a fresh injection of energy. Especially if we’ve managed to have a good break over the summer.
With the children returning to a new academic year at school, college or university, thoughts can turn towards learning for ourselves, too. After all, life is one long lesson! We learn from so many everyday actions and events – socially as well as professionally.
So, this month, we’re looking at how to review, reflect and reset our current situation, learning from the lessons evident within those actions. This technique can work both for business goals and in our personal lives.
L is for Learning – Every Day’s a School Day
This quote by Samuel Smiles, which I particularly like, is very relevant here:
“We learn wisdom from failure much more than success.
We often discover what we will do, by finding out what we will not do.”
This is so true! When things go well, we tend to accept the situation without learning anything from it. Whereas when things don’t go to plan, we wonder why and consider what went wrong, using it as a learning opportunity.
Learning is all about improving ourselves, achieving something, acquiring knowledge. Through learning, we raise our awareness in a certain area, gathering skills and experiences. Learning helps to reinforce our belief in our own capabilities.
When things don’t work to plan, it offers a chance to reflect on what happened to see where you can do things differently next time. It might raise an awareness of a skills gap; now, you can either learn from an expert or collaborate with someone who has those skills.
Failure brings to mind the famous Thomas Edison story. Inventor of the Tungsten filament lightbulb, he had many, many failed experiments.
After around 5,000 failed experiments, a young reporter asked him, “Sir, surely it is time to give up this folly and admit that man was meant to be lit by the kerosene lantern?”
Edison replied, “Young man, you do not know the way the world works. I have not failed 5,000 times. I have successfully identified 5,000 ways which will not work. Which puts me 5,000 steps closer to the way which will work.”
It took over 10,000 experiments before he perfected the lightbulb!
From Negative ‘Fear of Failure’ to Positive Feedback and Learning
I use the Edison story in my Goal Mapping Workshops. In them, I ask whether you’re afraid of failure or if failure is a negative experience. Perhaps you were told off at school for getting things wrong, so you developed a fear of putting your hand up in class.
Failure is an opportunity to learn. Failure is not actually a disaster – it simply means that Plan A didn’t work, so what’s Plan B?
When a major project goes off the rails, having a positive attitude at these times is very healthy. That attitude helps you to consider what went wrong and boosts your chance of success next time. Checking in periodically to review the situation and correct your course if needed helps to keep it all on track.
Every Day’s a School Day – Review, Reflect, Reset
A great exercise to help you review, reflect and reset how you’re progressing in a project or in general is to write down your thoughts. So, grab yourself a notebook or journal.
Get into the habit of finding a quiet moment in the evening to review your day. What did you learn? What are you thankful for? What’s missing? Write your thoughts down in your journal. The action of reviewing your day will help you recognise what’s needed for next time.
Your journal is a good record of your progress. Looking back on it in a few months provides an opportunity to reflect on how far you’ve come and acknowledge your progress – it is a valuable exercise to do.
Pause to Reflect and Acknowledge your Learning
Here are some examples of exercises which could help you recognise your achievements:
- CV reviews: CVs should identify your skills and your achievements. When I help my clients with their CVs, this exercise helps them see what and how much they’ve learnt as well as achieved.
- Learning Record Sheets: When I mentor coaches in training, they use Learning Record Sheets to record every activity done throughout their diploma. Those sheets allow them to see what they’ve achieved and helps towards their continuous development. Similar to the notebook idea I mentioned above, this is a great exercise anyone can do.
- Ask yourself good quality, open questions: By asking good quality questions, you receive better observance and awareness. ‘What…?’ questions need a full answer. They require more thought, allowing you to reflect on the answers, which then help you reset what’s needed for next time. It might be that you succeeded in the task but not in the methodology:
o What worked?
o What went to plan?
o What didn’t?
o What are you pleased about?
o What are you disappointed about?
o What have your learnt?
- Coaching: Being future focused and action orientated, this is a great way to discover what learnings you bring to help you achieve your next goal more effortlessly. Coaching helps you to ask questions, filtering them through past experiences. As part of clients’ accountability, I encourage you to complete a learning review exercise before our next session; this helps you recognise what tasks have been accomplished and what you’ve learnt along the way, which all helps you to move forward.
- DLF – Did, Learned, Felt: Thinking about what you did, learnt and how you felt is a useful reflective exercise. It can demonstrate what might not have gone well and how you felt about it. Despite it not going to plan, you may have felt super confident. This exercise helps you reflect on what’s not working, what needs adjusting and what skills you may need to sharpen. I developed this habit 12 years ago and still do it today!
Keep Things on Track with my 3 Rs – Review, Reflect, Reset
I hope you managed to have a nice break over the summer. Whether at home or away, a break is always necessary to recharge and feel more focused on your return to work.
To help you regain that focus and accomplish what you need to before the end of the year, book a short 3 Rs Review Session with me. In that, we will:
- Review your progress so far
- Reflect on what’s working and what’s missing
- Reset your course for the rest of the year to keep things on track