2/4/2012 - FORBES FIELD ANGB, Topeka, Kan. --
As a new commander I was "lucky" enough to be assigned the Commander's Comments within my first month on the job. I used to find humor in assigning this to all of the new commanders. For some reason it has lost some of its humor now that I am on the other side of that table!
I decided to discuss continuous self-reflection - in other words, we are generally evaluated (on a formal basis) once or twice a year, but we should be consistently evaluating ourselves.
I did some research on this topic and specifically on management expert Peter Drucker. He states "unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes... but no plans." We must commit to improving ourselves on a daily basis.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to celebrate my grandfather in-law's ninetieth birthday. As we had dinner (he ate an entire ½ rack of ribs and a side order of fries by the way) and discussed current events he shared with me some of his stories about his service in Europe during WW II. He referenced one of the many books he is currently reading about the war. At 90, he is continuing to grow and learn - which is perhaps why he was celebrating his 90th in the first place!
As we look to improve, one technique we should consider is a process known as "critical self-reflection." This process is essentially asking yourself tough questions, challenging yourself and allowing you to clarify how you want to live. One technique many people use
to self-reflect is a process known as journaling. To be clear, this is not you writing down your daily activities and what you ate for lunch, it is more like the exercise that Dr. Doogie Howser went through each evening as he processed his day as a 16-year old physician facing the problems of a teenager.
The process of journaling is your opportunity to self-reflect on the insights and things you noticed through the day. Ask yourself: What did I notice today? After doing this for a few weeks, you'll probably notice some patterns and trends in your behavior and interactions
with fellow employees, family, etc. What positive patterns emerge? What patterns would you like to change?
As you take the time to reflect on your insights and patterns of behavior consider some of the following self-reflection questions:
· What do I really want?
· What are my most important values?
· When am I at my best/worst?
· What am I avoiding or resisting?
· What am I most grateful for?
· What am I settling for?
This journaling process can also provide additional tools to ensure we are considering the correct items on our official appraisals. As we build our appraisal plans it is an opportunity for us to ask ourselves "What do I hope to achieve in this particular area?" As you review your performance plans along with your journaling, you may come to the conclusion that you need to refocus your efforts. This point may never be realized without
taking the time to self-reflect.
So what will this exercise do you for you and your ability to do your job and complete the mission of the 190th? This exercise in self-reflection will allow you to potentially accelerate your personal development, improve your performance and effectiveness in your job as well as lead to a potential for dramatic personal growth. Continuous self-reflection is how we fill in the gaps between the official appraisals.
Keeping these points in mind as we evaluate our employees and perhaps more importantly, as we evaluate and reflect on our own performance, will allow us to continually improve. Those that are the most successful are those that never stopped learning or growing. Continuous self-reflection is one tool we can use to ensure we never stop growing.