Leading with Reflection and Intention

In order to be someone others want to follow, you have to do a good job leading yourself first. If you are not growing, if you are not learning, if you are not attempting to get better, then you are not worth following. 

There are many ways to reflect as a leader. I utilize Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner and allot time every Friday morning to reflect on the week and plan the next week. At the start of each year, I create a Key Results Area (KRA) for myself and the team. It plainly communicates the priorities for the upcoming year. I then revisit, and update, them several times throughout the year based on new intel and priorities. Finally, I also set quarterly goals in my planner that outline the initiatives for the next 90 days. Some of them extend longer, even a year out. 

The point of these exercises is intentionality. I want to go in a given direction. But, just going in a given direction is not good enough. Reflection is like stopping at a rest stop on the highway, assessing how far you have come, and determining whether you are going in the right direction. Failing to do this may mean that you end up in Paris, Illinois, and not Paris, France!  

So far, most people reading probably are nodding in agreement. Most leaders, I have discovered, know that reflection is important. Further, they know that they need to lead themselves first and that they have to be intentional in doing so.

But, most leaders do not do the things that they know they should do. This is not a judgment statement, but a statement of reality. For, we live in a world more demanding of our time than arguably, any other time in human history. Therefore, we need to resist the urge to gravitate to the to-do list, stop, FULL STOP, and reflect. It is admittedly painful, yet profoundly transforming. 

The best things in life are this way. 

So, with the time remaining in this post, I am going to share the journal entry I created during a recent reflection time. I am doing so in hopes to inspire you to actually do what you know you should do. 

I should preface that the journal entry below comes from my prayer journal. Sarah and I want to be intentional about who, and what, we pray for. So, we both keep a list in a beautifully crafted journal that Sarah (not me!) created. While the notion of prayer might turn some off, take a chill pill as I am not trying to proselytize here. Rather, it bears repeating, I am demonstrating how reflection works: 

July 29, 2021 

As I wrap up another month in a very stressful 2021, I am overlooking the grounds at Saint Charles Country Club. Earlier this morning, I was able to be on the golf course with Will and Ben, and I witnessed Ben draining a 20 foot putt on the last hole, jumping up and down, and running around the green. He ended up winning the event by a single shot. Him winning a 7 year old golf “tournament” is hardly a life moment, but being here to see his joy was. Wow. Before going further, I am grateful for the flexibility my job offers. While I was not at any of the other weekday Junior Golf events this year, I was here today. Life’s best moments happen when I show up! 

Here are 3 lessons I feel like I have learned over the last month or so.

1)God blesses relational reconnection prayers. I have prayed for relationships to be restored this year with a few specific people. One person was someone that used to work at Hoffer Plastics and that relationship has been restored. So while God says “no” to some prayer requests, He seems to relish saying “yes” to ones where relationships are restored. And what joy restoration brings! 

2)Rest/Fatigue/Anxiety is a constant battle. I own that 2021 has been more stressful than 2020. And that statement is both shocking and amazing…I have discovered that the sweet spot is being other’s focused. My tendency this year is to analyze within. This makes me more tired, more anxious, and more stressed. Yet, this is what I turn to far too often. Jesus said that I should “love my brother as myself.” Amazingly, my life is often freed of stress when I actually (key word) do this. It is countercultural to the world’s way. It is also life giving.

3)The most impactful things in life tend to be the things that are met with the most resistance. For example, filling out this prayer journal, reflection, daily silence, prayer, scripture memorization, and talking only positively about others. I find the same to be true in leadership: having the honest conversation, standing up for what is right, and going the extra mile for a customer. Yet, these are the things that matter in the long run. 

If this month has taught me anything it is that summer is short and so is life. I mourn the loss around me, share in the grief of our friends, and yet remain thankful for family, faith, and a Savior that loves me unconditionally.