“Actions speak louder than words, but not nearly as often.” Mark Twain

Reflection is the theme this week and those people who know me well know that it is one of my favourite words and something that I encourage everybody to do lots of. Why? Because it is not an easy thing to do, but when done truthfully, honestly and without fear of what it will lead to, it is so incredibly powerful and can lead to open and frank discussions, self-improvement and new ideas.

Finding time to reflect in our hectic daily lives can be a struggle-I know a headteacher who actually has it in his daily diary-I guess if that works for him, then that’s fine, but most of us would struggle to sit down and say to ourselves “OK, now I’m going to reflect on things…” and then not find our minds wandering off, or an email pinging in or a friend calling etc…I do it when I am out running, as it is the only time when I am not thinking about anything. I have a friend who does it each evening whilst doing yoga. A former colleague of mine did it on his long commute home at the end of the day, listening to opera. Whatever works for you is the best time and place for you.

So what actually is reflection? It is certainly not focussing on what went badly and wallowing in self-pity. Nor is it focusing on whose fault something is. Nor is it blaming other people for all our mistakes, or simply being in denial about things. Reflection is a critical and honest examination and interpretation of events-what happened and why. Sometimes the answer that we come up with is not at all palatable, but that’s not the point. The point is how we then move on from there to either avoid a similar situation arising, or how we make the situation better-in other words, going back to Mark Twain’s quotation about actions.

Many work places and schools have finally understood what sports have known for a long time- coaches instead of mentors are the key. A coach will ask questions rather than provide answers and this can be amazingly powerful. Asking really difficult questions- “neither leading nor loaded” to enable reflection can have a very profound effect and can lead to change, improvement and self-reflection. These questions are not a personal attack or affront but a tool to trigger reflection, acceptance and action.

Reflective learners take on feedback, suggestions, hints, ideas and tips. They thrive on being asked to justify their actions and responses and are not afraid to ask for help. Sounds like actions we should all embrace.

Have a great weekend wherever you are and don’t forget to pop in and see us if you are in the area

Best Wishes

Chris Randell