Pause, Reflect, Learn…

“As we learn we always change, and so our perception.  This changed perception then becomes a new teacher inside each of us.”

Hyemeyohsts Storm

The ending a calendar year is always a time of great reflection and perspective seeking for me. I really enjoy taking the time to think back over the events and happenings of the past year. I typically think through and reflect on the answers to these questions:

  • What has has happened this year? What are the joys and disappointments?
  • What are the things that I have learned, and where do I still need to do more learning?
  • What are the best books I have read and what books did I leave unread that I want to add to my list for the next year?
  • What relationships did I grow and improve and what relationships do I need to invest in?
  • Who are the people that entered and exited my life and what did I learn from these relationships?
  • How have I grown as a Christian, Father, Husband and Leader? Where do I need to further grow and develop?
  • What are the most important events from the past year and how have I grown and learned from these?
  • What habits have I grown and cultivated that I must continue? What habits are holding me back?
  • Based on my answers to the above questions what should I Start, Stop or Continue?

This is just a general approximation of the questions that I reflect on as the year draws to a close. There are others that will come to mind as I work through the answers. I have found that in order to plan the year ahead I must do the hard work of answering critical questions so that I can learn and grow. It is amazing what you can learn when you take the time to pause and reflect with honesty and candor with oneself.

This morning as I was reading and meditating on a devotional I was reflecting on this verse and found it to be a great one to use as a lens for my “year in review” exercise.

‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28

Everything that happens to us happens for us, if we choose to allow ourselves to learn and grow from it. Making that choice is what gives each of us the opportunity to change our perceptions and better our lives.

Take the time to pause, reflect and learn from the past year before madly dashing into the new year that is ahead. There are valuable lessons to be learned if you give yourself the time to do so.

The story in my mind…

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”

John Lubbock

Master Sergeant Willie Wells once told me that “in the mind of the perceiver, a perception is a fact.” This as stuck with me for over 20 years now and has been invaluable over the years. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself the question “am I am dealing with facts or perceptions here?” And that question can be about self or others.

I recently reread “Dare To Lead” by Brene Brown and one tool in there really jumped out at me. (Well, there are a lot of things in that book that are incredibly good, and it is a must read but this one relates to the topic at hand…)

The specific tool she shared was a simple way to convey to others that you have a specific perception in play. The way to do this is to start your conveyance with this simple statement, “the story I am creating in my mind is…” When you do this it is incredibly clarifying both for you and for the person that you are communicating with. It strips away ambiguity and helps make whatever you are thinking sound less like a personal attack and much more problem or challenge focused. Give it a try and see if you can create new perceptions/facts.

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