Take the time to reflect

The nights have drawn in, the clocks have gone back, the late October storm has, well, stormed through really and we can all agree that autumn has definitely arrived.

I always find this time of year quite strange. autumn_trees_streamI really enjoy the autumn colours, the sight of a fire burning in the grate is comforting, the winter duvet is so cosy; but I always find myself reflecting on what has happened so far this year, what might have happened and trying to gauge what might happen next.

Rather than using this as just a personal introspective, I try and focus on work related matters as well, thinking about the “if only” and “what if” and most definitely celebrating the successes. Why do I do this?

It’s not because I’m a masochist or like to dwell on the negatives in life and I’m frequently told that self praise is no praise by members of my family (I beg to differ). It’s much more about looking for validation and a route forward; what can I take from activities I’ve taken part in that I can use for the future and what should I try differently next time?

How often in business do we take time to undertake this kind of review? Some may say that most organisations do attempt a reflective as part of their annual business planning and for annual reports for shareholders. Many projects and programmes review activity on a monthly basis but I’ve always found that to be very tactical or operational.

In my profession of bid and proposal management and coaching we always advocate setting up lessons learned and bid debrief sessions at the end of the bid and when the result is known. But do we give ourselves sufficient time to do this? Do we really take the lessons from reflection and bring them into new activities? And do we ever ask ourselves the question “what do you know now that you wish you had known at the beginning of the year/project/bid?”

I can honestly say I do reflect and try to learn. Do I always take that into my next bid or proposal? Well at least the reflection will influence my future behaviours even if it’s not appropriate to introduce all my learning in one fell swoop.

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