Today drove down a long road only to find the ‘dead-end’ sign at the end of the road. What is the use of that?
It occurred to me this is no different from life. We often make a business, life or career decision and put great effort to climb the ladder of success to find to our dismay that we have gone off-track or climbed the wrong wall. We lament to ourselves “only if I knew about this earlier”.
That is why self-reflective practices are important and helpful. They take the dead-end sign from end of the road and put it at the beginning, so hopefully we pay attention and don’t end up frustrated later.
What is an example of a ‘Dead-end’?
If I micro-manage and dis-empower the team that is a dead-end.
If my emotions hi-jack me and lead to conflict and stress that is a dead-end.
If self-criticism turns me away from my vision that is a dead-end.
If I choose my career to buy approval or impress others that is a sure dead-end.
If I blame others for my misfortune that is a dead-end.
Any time I am driven on auto-pilot and act out of limiting beliefs that were formed in much earlier years, it will be a dead-end.
How does self-reflection help?
Values as Compass: For starter self-reflective practices can help clarify our values – what is important. Making conscious decisions in alignment with our primary values can help us make informed decisions and stay on course.
Developing Sensitivity: Our body is a great source of intelligence. Sometimes our mind says something while our body suggests differently. In these conflicting situations often the body tells the truth. You want to speak up from the heart about something that in your guts (body) you know to be valuable but the mind stops you. When someone else says exactly the same thing you end up beating yourself on the head and regret “why didn’t I speak up?”. Self-reflection helps us develop more sensitivity to our body/gut’s messages and speak up.
Conscious Decision Making: Self-reflection can discipline us to consciously use our thinking prowess instead of being identified with our busy mind or be flooded by its impulses. This alone makes a world of a difference.
Sharpening the Senses: Often times we fail to register dead-ends early on because the process happens in gradual incremental steps over a long period (service deteriorating gradually, clients leaving over the months, stress building up over time …). Self-reflection hones our senses and sharpens our attention to see more and see deeper – we become more responsive to small subtle shifts.
Feedback: Feedback is a gift when it is given non-judgementally from those who support us. Self-awareness and reflection is another very important way to learn from our own habits, strengths and self-limiting beliefs.
Next time you encounter a “Dead-end”, remember to move the sign at the beginning.
Kamran is an International Coach Federation (ICF) accredited experienced Professional Certified Coach (PCC). He focuses on executive coaching and leadership development coaching assignments. He leads a highly engaging and practical Workshop Series on EQ & Self-Reflective Practices for professionals in Dubai, UAE.