Reflecting on reflection

Sandy Thompson

Wise leaders are like the ancient Roman god Janus standing in a doorway looking backwards at the previous year and ahead into the future.

New Year resolutions are a 4,000 year old practice promising the gods we will do better in the year to come.  While we have bought this tradition into the 21st Century Western world, 

we have forgotten an important step – reflecting on what has been to inform what is coming.

Consequently many of us forget what we have resolved by the time we return to work after the summer break. A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions failed, despite the fact that 52% of the study's participants were confident of success at the beginning.

At year's end, the majority of NZ not for profits have a frantic few weeks of rushing to “finish up” in order to “close down” for the summer break. Its like we put a full stop, take a giant breath, and then take off again in January. But Janus ("January") looked both ways.

We encourage you to take some time over the break to reflect back on your year. To identify moments of success and moments of challenge. Why were these important? What would you do differently if you had the time again? What will you do differently this coming year?

Reflection brings more than pragmatic improvement. Harry Kraemer in his book Values to Action: the four principles of values based action, identifies reflection as one of the principles.

It is the act of reflection that enables leaders get to know themselves better, articulate what is important, and gain clarity.

All of these result in authentic leadership. So take the opportunity of the break to take time out and reflect on your leadership specifically.  How will you be different as a leader this coming year?