In the Leadership program I used to facilitate, we always started each session the same way. We would provide our participants with a question, or a quote, or an idea. And we would ask them to journal for seven minutes.
Now, seven minutes is not very long. Ask someone to wait for a bus for seven minutes, or tell them that the movie they’re seeing will start in seven minutes, and people are fine.
Tell people to journal for seven minutes – they will struggle.
Not everyone, of course. Some people came into the training as journal writers. But a large number of people, after two or three minutes of writing, would start to fidget. They ‘d be looking around, sighing, and clearly desperate to pick up their cell phone (something we did not allow in our sessions).
And it’s not hard to understand why. When we’re scrambling to keep up with things at work and at home, sitting in solitude and thinking feels like a luxury.
But every session, we still asked them to do the same thing. And we did it for a reason. Because if they wanted to be leaders, they needed to self-reflect. And self-reflection takes practice.
Sometimes we asked them to journal after an activity or a presentation, to allow them time to reflect on what they learned. I’ll never forgot the time one of our participants raised her hand after journaling. “I really didn’t get the purpose of the activity,” she said. “But then when I started writing, suddenly it made sense. You got me!”
In some ways, this blog was inspired by self-reflection, as I started writing to delve into my workplace experiences that led me to quitting. And I want to continue that journey, while also hopefully encouraging others to take the time to do some reflection of their own.
So I’ve picked Sunday as a good day for doing some thinking. Every week I’ll post an idea or a question or a quote. And I’ll be doing some thinking. And I hope some of you do too.