A Time for Reflection

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For just a moment, think back to July of this year.

Oh, the glorious days of midsummer, when the sun was shining, the humidity was just right, and the evening temps were cool enough to sleep with the windows open. It was easy to be lulled into the false sense that midsummer in Southwest Michigan—with its beaches, blueberries, and fireflies—would last forever. Of course, the romantic spell of the season broke eventually, and we shifted into a new mode: back to school, back to business.

Now, mid-fall, we’ve fully adjusted from fireflies to football and business on full tilt. But only a short while ago, as the sun started to settle its way down by dessert instead of at bedtime, we had to wrestle with change. We were in the throes of transition—some of us excitedly, some reluctantly—in our working lives and at home.
As fall took hold, how many of us paused for a moment to reflect on the glories of summer? Or where we were heading in the fall? Or where we wanted to go?
Metaphors likening the changing seasons of the year to the changing seasons of business and life are familiar. But what are perhaps less familiar, and certainly less practiced, are focused acts of reflection following periods of change. Reflection is one of our greatest teachers. To borrow the words of John Dewey, the American philosopher and educator, “We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” Yet too often we rush from one change to the next, never fully stopping to distill episodes of glory or struggle into insights about who we are, who we want to be, and what we will have to pick up or leave behind to get where we want to go.

We have a tremendous opportunity for reflection and learning in the months ahead. As we approach this next season, we will see the start of a new decade together. As our very own 20s come roaring into view, my leadership challenge to you is to take stock of the season you are in as a leader. Make time for reflection to distill the most glorious glories and solemn struggles of this past decade into the insights that will shape your leadership into 2020 and beyond. Challenge your team to do the same. Get your loved ones involved. Lay the foundation now for an intentional beginning of the year and the decade that feels like the start of something big.

How will you show up in 2020?

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