I think it is fair to say that we are not living in a deeply reflective time. We are all so busy and exposed to so much information that taking the time to stop and reflect often feels like a break in our hectic pace that we cannot afford to take.
But as this year comes to a close, I’m choosing to pause and reflect. (I’d like to say that the impulse to do this has come about organically, but no, it has come about because our head of marketing has asked me to write a blog post about the topic – even those of us who profess to be experienced in this area require a little nudge sometimes!)
Five years ago I took a four month sabbatical from work. It was a time of significant learning for me – largely because it didn’t turn out anything like I had planned. After I returned from my sabbatical, I gave a TEDx talk called Pausing to Access Wisdom. In it, I shared what I was reminded about on my sabbatical: that when I paused (which was rare for me) I found it easier to prioritize, easier to make decisions, and easier to be present.
The benefits of pausing and reflecting were so significant that I thought it would be easy to continue the practice indefinitely… but it was not. The relentless pace of working life soon overwhelmed my best intentions to lead a more mindful life.
The sabbatical, of course, was not the first time I had the opportunity to learn and practice pausing and reflecting. There have been several major life experiences where I experienced the power of pause and reflection: after my children were born; after a serious illness; after the death of my father. Each time, I was sure that the insight, the knowing, and the practice of pausing and reflecting would be forever embedded in my way of being in the world. And while each time I was able to hold onto the practice briefly, it always ended up fading into the background as the busyness of life took over.
I’ve been pondering why this cycle keeps repeating itself. And what I’ve realized is that when we think of learning, we often think in terms of acquiring a body of knowledge or a new practice that will stay with us forever once it is learned – riding a bike, driving a car, mastering PowerPoint – but in fact, much of what we need to learn requires that we keep on learning and relearning throughout our lives.
The most important skills – such has how to be a good leader, a good partner, a good parent, an honorable human being, and someone who regularly pauses and reflects – are lifelong learning endeavors.
So, thank you, Lucy (our Head of Marketing) for providing the impetus for me to once again continue to learn to be someone who pauses and reflects.
Wishing all of you a beautiful end to 2019 and a wonderful 2020… with many opportunities to continue to learn and relearn!
Hi, really enjoyed your blog. Like you there were times when a period in life requires a reflection. Mine was a diagnosis of cancer and the confrontation of the terminal nature of life. I have spent 40 years in people development, the most enjoyable and effective period was using MRG tools. During my reflection the question “Did I make a difference?” became foremost. Working in 37 countries delivering learning interventions, coaching over 2000 leaders; conducting a poll of past participants was inconclusive. I have spent the last 3 years, at the age of 68, doing a PhD on what helps… Read more »
So lovely to read your comments Mike (as always). Your reflections really resonate with me. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your insights. And congratulations on the pursuit of your PhD – what an accomplishment!