“If only I had waited that 24hrs …” “if only I hadn’t sent that email”, “ If only I had taken some time out” . These are statements of reflection that I often hear when I am coaching leaders and managers. What I interpret from this is the capacity to step back and observe the situation before they acted. Being an observer of ourselves ‘in the moment’ is called second order learning and Lewin (1951) wrote that reflection as a process, reinforces learned behaviours and leads to new or higher levels of thoughts and ideas. However, in order to reflect you need to be able to appreciate the importance of taking a step back from the situation and events so you are able to respond in ways that ensure you are at your resourceful best.
When I used to hear someone say they were going on a retreat I used to immediately think about religious communities who would go away on retreat. However over the years I have attended many retreats and partnered with Anne Courtney and Kathryn Choules to run retreats. I believe retreats are an integral part of leadership because retreating enables us to reflect and reconnect to one's self.
Retreating is a great way to give yourself the time to reflect, review, analyse, observe your ‘way of being’ and then plan and take the action needed to achieve the results you want. Retreating gives you the time to consider immediate situations that you are trying to deal work, longer term problems or concerns or a time to evaluated and plan for the future.
- Think about a recent situation that did not go well for you
- Stand somewhere quite close your eyes and take two steps back
- Imagine you are on a balcony looking down at yourself
- What are you noticing about yourself in the situation that might be helping or hindering you or the situation?
- In this situation do they think there is anything that you can change about yourself that could make the situation better?
- Open your eyes and ask yourself what you noticed was different from the first time you looked at the situation to the second time you stepped back from the situation
Now imagine you have set aside 10 minutes in your day, or one full day, a weekend or a week where you take the opportunity to retreat, reflect and through this process learn about yourself. Learning occurs by integrating your concrete emotional experiences with reflection. Learning is a process best facilitated when ideas can be examined, tested and integrated with new, more refined ideas. In the process of learning, people move back and forth between differing approaches of reflection, action, feeling and thinking and then integrate new experiences into existing concepts. This creates knowledge. Retreating helps us to create knowledge about ourselves…writing about yourself reinforces new insights about yourself…what a great book read! If you are interested in reflecting and retreating contact firstname.lastname@example.org