When you look in the mirror, who do you see looking back at you?

How does the world see you?

When you look in a mirror you see what you can see and very often this is not the same as what others see when they look at you. You see, the reflection is you and how you view yourself, but the image is what others see and how they view you when they look at you. Understanding both is where the power of reflection can help you grow, both professionally and personally.

Reflection is an art; it is not a science that can be taught. Reflection is one of the key teachings in Buddhism and almost a form of meditation. But can this be useful in business?

If you throw a stone into a lake, do you just watch it sink before throwing in another?

Imagine if you can, throwing a stone into a still lake. Initially the lake shows you the reflections of the shore and sky and as the stone gently lands, it disappears without a trace, save for the concentric ripples on the surface. Each ripple in itself changes the reflection of the shore and the sky. They radiate from where the stone vanished and widen until they eventually vanish. Each reflection on the ripple changes as it radiates outwards and the further away from the centre the ripple becomes, the reflection fades until it no longer exists. This is the power of reflection, it only lasts a moment, but it gives you a glimpse into what could be if you saw things differently.

In business and in our personal lives we need time to reflect if we are to develop and grow. This reflection should be regular and time should be set aside, because if you don’t, you’ll probably not get the time to go about it again. So turn off your phone, your computer and stay with a topic for a while. Start with just ten minutes and build up incrementally until you feel the benefit of this practice.

I find in business that self-reflection brings enlightenment, insight, and knowledge plus it can aid learning. To give you an example, let me explain something that I’ve reflected on this week, a lot.

My biggest mistake

I was recently asked if I would be available as a keynote speaker for a function before Christmas. Now this function is something that I have wanted to be a keynote speaker at for a long time, over two years in fact. But as much as I wanted to have that chance, I was mindful of December being a busy period within the practice, so my initial reply was “I hope so”. Now this to me was an affirmative reply, a ‘yes, but I need to get a few ducks in a row first’. However, what was heard was quite the opposite. The ‘I hope so’ response was taken as a negative and I found I’d lost out on the gig. Initially, I thought that it was a good thing as I would have been unable to attend given the timings. However, upon deep personal reflection I now realise that I could have attended. I have the knowledge of exactly what I would have to achieve in order to deliver what I had promised, but I was held back by my own fear, fear of the unknown.

Why was I scared? I knew what I would be getting myself into. I could see the huge upside but I faced the reality of the downside. So in that split second, ‘I hope so’ was the wrong response. I knew what, when and how to have achieved what I needed before Christmas but the fear of accelerating that held me back and the result is that I lost out on something that I had wanted to do for over two years.

When I came to reflect on my actions, my reflection looked at the fear and it was the imagination of what would happen by travelling so far (to the US) on the run up to Christmas. My reflection was like a mirror, it showed me what I wanted to see at the time but at that time my imagination conjured up what wasn’t there. It was this unknown that scared me and why I didn’t react in the way I should have.

Learn from your emotional self

Our emotions are always present and we can’t avoid engaging with them. I know that by bringing emotion into full view I can make decisions based on both a personal emotional decision and my objective business perspective. By using this knowledge, I have learnt that I can cultivate positive emotion and make myself wiser and become cognisant of my mindfulness rather than mind fullness.

and to takeaway…

Try it, find a success, or failure in your business and spend some time reflection on what happened and what you can do better next time to enhance the outcome.