3 Questions: How to Engage in Meaningful Professional Reflection
In our "3 Questions" series, we ask top industry professionals to answer three questions within their area of expertise. In this edition, we're talking about how to engage in meaningful professional reflection with Rachel Druckenmiller, CEO of Unmuted. As an experienced keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, Rachel has worked with dozens of organizations to ignite resilience, connection and engagement among leaders and teams and is a valued PAR webcast speaker. Join her for her webcast, 2020 Vision: How to Reframe and Refocus Current Frustrations into Future Success.
1. We often reflect on experiences once they are complete, but how can we turn reflection into an ongoing and meaningful activity in the present?
Reflection is an intentional process that requires our thoughtful effort, so it's not something many of us do consistently because we are often running on autopilot. We're living our lives by default instead of by design. It's easy to let the days, weeks, months and years get away from us and not pause at any point to reflect on the experiences themselves. Set a reminder on your calendar to pop up, perhaps once a month or at the end of the week to reflect on questions like the ones below:
What am I learning about myself right now?
What's something I appreciate about myself and how I'm showing up?
What am I doing that seems to be working?
What could I do better or differently that would make the most meaningful difference right now?
2. What role does our community of peers play in our own personal reflection?
Being in community with truth-telling people who are also invested in growing and learning is one of the best ways that we can enhance our own growth. I encourage people to form what Brene Brown calls a "Square Squad" or what Adam Grant calls a "Challenge Network."
TIP: The Square Squad is a one-by-one inch piece of paper on which you write the names of people whose opinions matter to you. These people may have been your advocates, accountability partners, mentors, advisors, and supporters. When you're feeling stuck, you could ask yourself: Where am I feeling stuck right now and who on this square might be able to help me? You could also check in with those people on a pre-planned basis, perhaps monthly or quarterly to discuss challenges your decisions you've navigating to get their input on what you should do. You can also ask those people to ask you probing questions to help you arrive at your own answers.
We often know the answers ourselves and a skilled question-asker and listener can help us facilitate the activation of insight.
3. What steps can we take to turn meaningful reflection into positive action?
One of the questions I like to ask is, "What is the smallest next step you could take that would make the biggest difference right now?" We often get ahead of ourselves and try to get to stop 27 before we've taken step one. Having an understanding of what your tendency is when it comes to responding to expectations can help you determine the best way to position yourself to follow through on your ideas. I'm a fan of Gretchen Rubin's quiz, The Four Tendencies, available here. For instance, the style or tendency I have has taught me that I do best when I have external accountability - that I have a harder time keeping commitments to myself when no one else is involved. For that reason, I've hired coaches and put myself in peer networks to help hold me accountable externally.
Rachel is the CEO of Unmuted and is on a mission to humanize the workplace by igniting resilience, connection, engagement and hope in leaders and teams. She has delivered nearly 200 interactive virtual learning experiences as a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator and leadership trainer in the past year. Rachel has worked with dozens of organizations, including the Association of Legal Administrators, Citizens Bank, Deloitte, Sherwin-Williams, and the American Heart Association.
Recognized as the #1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S. in 2015, a 40 Under 40 Game Changer in 2019, and one of The Daily Record’s Leading Women of 2020, Rachel is a national thought leader in the field of wellbeing and employee engagement. She has been featured as a guest on over 60 podcasts. She has a Master’s degree in Health Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
Rachel posts inspirational videos and other content on LinkedIn. Follow her there and on her website www.UnmutedLife.com.