The Value of Daily Reflection and Tone

I subscribe to bestselling author James Clear's "3-2-1 Thursday" blog. In this weekly message James provides three of his ideas, two quotes from others, and a single question. This week's edition contained a quote from Anne Frank that really hit home for me, given my passion for teaching forward accountability (thank you, Sidney Dekker) and constant improvement. Here it is:

“How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to mind the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time." [Link]

The header under which this quote was offered was "Self Awareness and Personal Reflection". How absolutely appropriate.

When I present on the topic of forward accountability, and specifically when I teach the Art of the Debrief, I often highlight my recommendation that new practitioners begin by debriefing at home, before bringing this important skill set to work. This is meant to drive two things: 1) Building comfort with the process, and 2) Helping build home lives that are as productive and fulfilling as our work lives. It's also meant to help us get past the following challenges which often hijack the accountability process, some of which include:

  • Justifying or excusing bad behavior or performance;
  • Not being fully honest about what actually took place;
  • Feeling bad or down in the face of failure;
  • Dwelling on the negative and failing to find the good that took place, even in the midst of a failure.

Ms. Frank's optimistic view of the benefits of daily reflection is shared by those who regularly debrief. And Ms. Frank's assertion that the outcome of this reflection is a daily subconscious effort to improve, leading to important and positive changes in a short period of time.

For those of us who are consciously trying to adopt this approach, it would be wise to capture Ms. Frank's optimism by way of the tone we bring to our debriefs. In all cases it's the tone we bring that will drive the outcomes we derive from this important reflection process.

  • For those whose tone is positive, their analysis is forward-looking and focused on improving, and the outcomes will generally be positive;
  • For those whose tone is negative, their analysis is rooted in the past and can lead to blame, shame and a generally negative outcome.

And so I conclude today's Roll Call with three questions:

  • How are you going to consciously bring the right tone to your personal and team debriefs?
  • What techniques can you adopt to ensure that you maintain the correct tone throughout the process, especially when you're evaluating a perceived or actual failure?
  • And how will you pass along the importance of tone to your teammates to help them lead their own debriefs in the future?

Think on these and keep winning!

Your Teamwork Partner,