Warren Bennis is well known for being an expert in leadership development. In his book On Becoming a Leader, Bennis wrote, “There are lessons in everything, and if you are fully deployed, you will learn most of them. Experiences aren’t truly yours until you think about them, analyze them, examine them, question them, reflect on them and finally understand them.” Bennis’s message to readers was to use your experiences in life as a guide and don’t let them use you. 

In order for an individual to develop into a strong leader, they must be open to constantly learning and experiencing new things. Learning is at the center of effective leadership development, as deep understanding is how we can use experiences to transform our mentality. Deep knowledge helps you change the way you see yourself and the world around you.

An essential part of deep learning is reflection. Self-reflection is more than thinking about your past experiences, it calls for an examination of underlying assumptions and beliefs that help you make sense of the experiences. Reflection is very important, but it’s normal for professionals to think that they don’t have time to do so. In order to work better with yourself and employees, try these techniques to help you reflect properly.

As yourself questions

When you experience something that feels important to you, take a step back and ask yourself these questions to digest and get an understanding: What did I just learn from this experience? Why exactly am I feeling this way? If I could go back, would I have done anything differently?

Talk to someone

Whether you talk to a close friend or coworker, talking about an experience aloud is a great way to reflect. You get to hear yourself and hear questions from a person you trust. Advice is also welcomed, but at this moment, you want to dig into your reflection and not steer in the wrong direction.

Keep a reflective journal

Journaling is a great way to write down your experiences and break them down. The best time to write and reflect is when you’re stuck in a place and waiting. For example, if you’re waiting for your flight at the airport, sit down and write down a few sentences.