As we are fast approaching the end of the current year, it is a good idea to pause and reflect on our performance so far. Having studied and listened many high-performance coaches and gurus, from Jim Rohn to Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard and others, the single most important piece of advice that we should all carry forward to the new year is regularly pausing and reflecting in order to move forward. So, pause and reflect not just in the last few remaining days of 2018 but frequently and regularly in the new year 2019 and in the years ahead.  

Pausing and reflecting not only on what we have done but also on what we are and what we are becoming is the first step to clarity, self-leadership, success and leading others. Pausing our daily and sometimes frantic routine is simple but not easy. Here are two tools that have helped others to evolve and become better leaders. It may be helpful to you as well.

Self-awareness through self -reflection 

Wake up half an hour early in the morning and sit in solitude to think and reflect on the day ahead. In the morning when you are rested and fresh it is easier to concentrate and focus on the tasks that are truly important for you and not just for others or for your job. It may be helpful to have a notepad at hand and scribble down your thoughts and to do things. If you are not a person of solitude you may try the above in the nearby coffeeshop before you go to work. 

The same thing might just work for you in the office if you can get there a few minutes earlier and can have some quiet time along with your morning coffee. 

For some people this works just fine in the evening as a night routine before getting to bed. This way you can reflect on what happened during the day, how you have handled certain situations, your behavior that you are proud of and things you would prefer to have done differently. Having these thoughts in mind you can plan the next day ahead. Giving feedback to yourself is equally if not more important than feedback received from others.

During your personal time alone, ask yourself a couple of questions – what are the challenges that I am about to face today? How did my day go yesterday? Am I the leader I would like to be? What can I do differently? What will I do?

Self-awareness through reflecting on the behavior of others 

It is generally accepted that it is not easy to get feedback. Even if you ask peers or friends or even bosses for feedback it is quite common to encounter silence – everything is fine, even when you know that it is not. 

One tool that you could employ to generate feedback on your own is to reflect upon the behavior of others. Who is the worse leader you have ever encountered? What did he do to be such a bad leader? I learned it from Tony Robbins but it is simple cognitive psychology, that what we find bad in others usually resonates within ourselves as well.  Therefore, a bad behavior that we immediately pick upon probably reflects some of our own behavior that we don’t like. Identifying it on others is easier than seeing it on ourselves.  By the same token, watch the behavior of someone you consider to be a good leader. What do they do that you can adopt and improve your own behavior? 

Marcus Aurelius, the famous stoic philosopher and one of the few enlightened Roman emperors, said the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. So, act virtuous, use your time well and be cheerful.Pause, reflect give yourself some feedback and act upon it. Happy New Year!