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Why self-reflection will improve your leadership

| by Richard Blackaby

I once visited with a man while I was on an intercontinental flight. His specialty—analyzing disasters. He gleaned enormous leadership lessons by reviewing airline crashes. 

He and his team would dissect what went wrong that caused an airliner to run out of fuel and crash, or a plane to fly into the side of a mountain. Inevitably, he would discover that human error was to blame for the tragic loss of many lives. Because such crises are so horrific, the leadership lessons learned were profoundly instructive. 

In talking with this man, I learned that he was about to be married for his second time. I couldn’t help but ask if he had used his keen analytical skills in diagnosing the cause of his failed marriage. He hadn’t. 

Here was a man who was baffled at the foolishness of people who made mistakes that cost others dearly, yet, it never occurred to him to reflect on his own failure so he could insure he did not make the same mistake twice.

Socrates is credited with having said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” He was correct. 

Reflection is a key leadership tool. Without it, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes. Reflection, however, requires a price. It demands that we take time to do some solid thinking.

It entails that we get away from our normal routine so we can ponder our life’s circumstances and the issues we are facing. It means we must set our pride aside and look at ourselves as we are, not as we wish we were. 

This involves reviewing our actions and brutally evaluating them. It also entails the willingness to make whatever adjustments necessary to experience greater success in the future.

It is especially important to reflect when you approach an ending. Whether it is the end of the year, the end of a project, or a job, it is always wise to take some time to review your experience. Here are some reflection questions to consider:

• What did you learn? 

• What would you do differently? Why? 

• What would you do more of? Less of? 

• What did you learn about yourself? 

• In what areas do you need to mature? 

• What skills do you need to work on or acquire? 

• What books could you read that would help you? 

• Is there someone you should initiate a lunch meeting with so you can learn from them? 

Reflection is not merely taking time to be idle. It is aggressively seizing everything of value you can from your recent experience so you are a better person, and leader, in the future. Take time soon, to reflect.

Photo source: istock 


Richard Blackaby

Richard is the president of Blackaby Ministries International and lives in Jonesboro, Georgia. Richard travels internationally speaking on spiritual leadership in the home, church, and marketplace as well as on spiritual awakening, experiencing God, and the Christian life. Richard regularly ministers to Christian CEOs and business leaders. He has written or co-authored 33 books including Experiencing God: Revised Edition; Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda;and Experiencing God: Day by Day.

This article was first published on RichardBlackaby.com. Used with permission from Blackaby Ministries International. 



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This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
Isaiah 48:17 (NLT)
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