Self-Reflection: Learning and Growth
Never has there been a greater time when things did not turn out as we planned or expected.
Struggling to See Beyond the Negative Experience of the Outcome
There’s been oh so many times in life where I’ve been disappointed with outcomes. An unsuccessful interview, a lost match, a failed relationship.
And for a long time (sometimes still), I struggled to see beyond the negative experience of the outcome. Feelings of frustration, disappointment and anger blinded my ability to see the great learning opportunity from the experience.
Two things have been central to me becoming better at taking the opportunity to self-reflect and learn from such experiences. I’d like to share them in the hope that they might help you in some small or significant way to self-reflect, grow and learn from experiences – good or bad.
- Creating Awareness Through Mindfulness:
Mindfulness is a breath and meditation practice that allows you to create conscious awareness in the present moment. Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and leading mindfulness teacher once said that we ‘are more than our sorrow’. To be able to self-reflect best and get the precious learning from experiences we must be able to first sit with and then move past the disappointment where an outcome has not gone our way. Mindfulness is a practice that has helped me hugely to firstly sit with that disappointment (which is never easy) and then, when the time feels right, to self-reflect and extract the massive learning that I can take from the experience.
- Embrace the ‘Power of Yet’:
I’ve loved learning about, and from, the work of Carol Dweck on the area of the Growth Mindset. Dweck describes the Growth Mindset as the belief that you can achieve what you want through a combination of application and taking instruction. One feature of the Growth Mindset that Dweck plays strongly on is embracing the ‘power of yet’. That is that Dweck believes that it is absolutely critical to take time to self-reflect from situations where we have not (yet) got to where we wanted to get to. By taking this time to self-reflect we get to understand what we can do differently and better the next time we face a similar situation.
In fact, Dweck, believes the same in situations where we’ve achieved a positive outcome too. She encourages people to ‘praise the process’ as much as the outcome. That is to self-reflect and identify what work, effort and focus caused this positive outcome. This knowledge will help you to replicate the same outcome when faced with a similar situation.
Dweck’s work has helped me to view every scenario as an opportunity for self-reflection, growth and learning exercise. The transition to this approach has been helped hugely by a regular mindfulness practice.
I don’t know if one or both appeal to you as strategies to implement. I sincerely hope they might as I know how much they benefited me in being able to self-reflect, to learn and to grow.
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