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Reflection and Focus

Posted 12 December 2018
by Cat Heffernan

As we wrap up the calendar year, it’s a natural time to pause and reflect on what’s gone well and how we would like the coming year to unfurl for us from a personal perspective.  It has me thinking about how that process of reflection – of acknowledging what we have achieved, what didn’t work so well and what do we want to focus on going forward– is also one of the more effective leadership habits we can develop.

Regular reflection and slowing down is also paradoxically one of the best antidotes for the modern scourge of ‘busyness’.  How often do you bump into someone, ask them how they are going and get the answer ‘soooo busy!!!!’, as if it were a personal virtue?  I’m not espousing laying around all day in your jammies (although that can be fun the odd time!) but there is something rather ‘unthinking’ (and addictive to the ego??) about running around busy all the time.  And the older I get, the more I appreciate some quiet reflection time to just sit with all of the data floating around me.

Anyway, I digress somewhat…

Several years ago I became interested in the rhythm of the moon and the effects is has on us, and indeed all of nature : the tides, gardening, moods, etc.  We even reference it in our work lives when things get a bit crazy, we might say, ’ Must be a full moon’.  My interest has evolved into having a monthly ritual around the cycle of the moons to reflect on the totality of my personal and professional life using the new moon as a time to think about what I want to bring about and focus on and the full moon as a time of release and letting go of stuff that no longer serves me.

Now you might think me a bit ‘loony’ (pardon the pun), but even if you don’t buy into the moon energy theories, having a regular reflection and refocus habit is a highly effective practice to get into. I find monthly works best for seeing some progress around bigger areas, but on a daily basis it’s a great habit to get some perspective on more micro activities and get into a more strategic mindset if required.  It increases our self-awareness and allows us be more purposeful as leaders, which has to be a good thing.

For me, I’m grateful for the opportunities that lie ahead and am really excited to be at Allegra at this time.  I’m looking forward to meeting you and talking about our ideas and ambitious plans. 

Here are my top tips for an effective monthly reflection practice:

  1. Always starts with getting into the best possible mental state for the exercise.  I find it effective to make a gratitude and progress list just to remind myself how many good things are already happening.  Do this at a time of day that works best for you (I like just before dawn but many people are night owls).
  2. If you have a list from last month, review it and reflect on what’s working/ what’s not. 
  3. For forward focus, I make a list (maximum 10) of intents and then – this is crucial – turn those intents into action statements (what you will commit to make it a reality).  Feel what it would feel like if these statements were true.
  4. For release, make a list of things you would like to either let go of or change.  These can be either tangible things or responses you have to certain situations.  Again, feel what it would feel like to let it go.
  5. Keep the overall themes in the back of your mind as you go about your daily activities or to-do lists but don’t micro manage the list.  Things will emerge and you need to allow some space.

 

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