The purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

OW OFTEN DO FIND YOURSELF RETURNING FROM A TRAINING COURSE full of great new ideas but, within hours of being back at work, forgetting the insights you had gained? Or, consistently failing to apply the lessons you learned from a new product launch or a meeting with a client? Or, perhaps something goes quite badly wrong and you don't want to spend any more time on it, preferring instead to move on and, in the process, sweeping it under the carpet?

Do you ever find yourself feeling uneasy about an event of which you are part and not quite sure why this is? Do you ever get into a state of uncertainty, not sure with which of a number of perfectly reasonable courses of action you should proceed?

Do things happen to you at work and leave you with a sneaking suspicion that the problem is not at work but in your private life?

One of the facts of modern living is that we spend a great deal of time thinking about our external image: the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the house we live in, or the places we choose to go to eat. The media act as mirrors, continually telling us what kind of person selects a particular brand. If we choose to deconstruct these media mirrors, we can get a picture of ourselves from the outside as a consumer.

The kind of mirror we really need is the one that tells us something about the person beneath the image and how they are doing, as Hamlet was able to find out about the real Claudius with the help of the players. This has always been difficult but, arguably, it is even more difficult today, for two reasons.

The first is image consciousness itself. There is a sense in which you can get yourself into a situation where you have so effectively defined yourself as the kind of successful person who simply bounces back from anything that goes wrong, that you leave yourself no time to reflect on things when they do not go according to plan. You just drag yourself out of bed the following morning and carry on as if nothing has happened.

The second reason is that today's business environment is so pressured that many people feel their promotion prospects or their job itself will be at risk if, in the process of reflecting, they admit to making mistakes. It is always difficult to own up to making a mistake at work, or at home for that matter—but the benefits of doing so are enormous to the individual and to the organization.

Sometimes, of course, you do not realize the effect of what you are doing. Over time you have acquired certain behaviors that are seen by those around you as unhelpful. Perhaps you have become so used to your position of authority that you make unreasonable demands on other people. Or, perhaps you interfere too much in the decision-making process, effectively disempowering those who work with you. In such cases, you sometimes need someone else to hold a mirror up to you so you can see yourself as others see you, but without losing your self-respect along the way.

The truth is that unless you reflect on what you have learned and then go and do something differently, your learning is going to be of only limited value. While the skill of reflecting is a difficult one to acquire, it is also one of the most beneficial. Getting into reflective habits will be key to your success.

A How reflective are you at work? At home? When do you reflect? How do you make sure you build in time for reflection?

Reflectiveness is connected to the passage of time—by definition, it involves looking back at what has happened. However, effective reflection also involves taking stock of the present and thinking for ward to the future. You don't reflect simply for the sake of it, useful as the thought process is. You reflect on something in order to learn from it and do it differently when you are in a similar situation again.

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave several of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and check off items on our to-do list by each day’s end seems to decide the direction and quality of our existence for us.

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