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We Don’t Learn From Experience But From Reflection

How often do you deeply reflect on your experience? My definition of reflection is ‘thinking with purpose.’

I was curious to find out how others see it, so posted the question on LinkedIn and here are some of the responses that I received, that resonated with me.

I think it’s making time to have a purposeful conversation with yourself. David Mellor Business Mentor
When I read your question, I immediately went visual. Thinking how reflection allows us to ‘see the same thing again’ but from a different perspective. This can be because like a reflection in water its form is changed, with a mirror it’s reversed or someone else reflects us back to ourselves. For me, reflection gives us the most insight when it is intentional as we openly seek to understand, consider ourselves, opinions, situations and how we respond. of love or fear? Andrea Watts Founder of UnglueYou
Reflection empties out that which has served its purpose, offers clarity on where focus is required and creates more mental space for curiosity and creativity! Anjana Nathwani MBPsS
Intentional focused thinking is a description I observe in action. Learning invites individual reflection. Vijaya Nath, Director of Contemplative Spaces
I like ‘thinking with purpose’, for me reflection is taking time to stop and make space to think and acknowledge what’s going well and what I might need to change. Jessica Rogers CPCC, PCC
Reflective practice is a conscious effort that prioritises time to think; not something to push out to an imaginary future when the seas have calmed. Intentional reflective practice now, at speed where necessary, will enable us to tackle whatever comes next with a deeper sense of personal and organisational resilience. Reflective practice can calm our anxious minds and give us hope – and now is when we need hope most. Cindy Vallance Assistant Director of Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery at AdvanceHE

With all that’s happening in the world, I believe that this is a time for conscious reflection.

As a woman of colour and a human being, I have been shocked and saddened at the news of the death of George Floyd in the USA at the hands of a white policeman, and the events that have unfurled since.

The news that Belly Mujinga, 47, died from Covid-19 on 5 April. She was working at Victoria station when she was assaulted and that the person who spat at her wasn’t prosecuted.

The fact that people from ethnic minorities are up to 50% more likely to die from coronavirus than white people in the UK.

The purpose of my reflection right now is to consider what I can do to end the injustice, inequality and oppression that clearly exists in the world.

I read Professor Ibram X Kendi’s book earlier in the year “How to be an anti-racist.’ At the heart of the book is the message that there is no state of being ‘not racist’ instead we are either ‘racist’ or ‘anti-racist’ no matter what our heritage.

So for me, reflection is active, it leads to new knowledge and action taking, it isn’t the passive activity that I think comes to mind for many.

So how can you reflect? Here are my 5 top tips:

  1. Use Stimuli like objects, artefacts, art, and literature which connect to individuals’ views and experiences of their world to be a generative source of reflection, suggests Vijaya Nath.

  2. Ask Questions such as ‘Is what I plan to do or what I have done from a place of love or fear?’ suggests Andrea Watts. Asking the right type of questions to help find the best solution. e.g, “What did I benefit from today?” and “How could I have managed that interaction or situation better?” Always write your thoughts down to help track your progress. Or as Anjana Nathwani suggests, you might reflect on what you are grateful for, a favourite practice of mine.

  3. Time to reflect is crucial. Blocking time out helps to ensure that you reflect consistently. Sunday mornings work for me.

  4. Solitude frees the mind up from all the distractions of everyday life and allows it to focus more fully on one thing. Select a place where you can’t be disturbed or distracted so that you can concentrate fully on your reflection.

  5. Honesty increases your awareness of what you are really thinking. Your reflections are for you and you only and so provide an opportunity to be uncensored and truly honest with yourself.

My wish – that deep reflection at this time can lead us to ask ourselves the tough questions and take action to be better. Not just for ourselves but for the good of all.


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