Leading through Reflection

One of the greatest moments in anybody’s developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide from himself but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is. Norman Vincent Peale


dreamstimeweb_542095 4I was joking recently with a friend that I was appreciating how easy life was in my previous lives. Now, I am not sure exactly about living before; what I am really saying is that there seems to be so little time to stop the ferocious activity and reflect on what is happening in our world and more closely in our own lives.

If you read the biographies of great leaders such as George Washington or Samuel Adams or Thomas Jefferson, you find that they were deeply reflective people. They wrote extensively to friends and constituents about their ideas and passions. The used conversations with friends and colleagues to explore issues of great concern to them.

This type of reflective leadership continued well into the 20th century. Franklin Roosevelt was noted for spending time away from Washington in order to regain his perspective about the right direction for the country. He maintained his time for reflection even while helping to overcome the worst depression in our history and engaging in World War II. More recently, Bill Gates, the CEO of Microsoft, is well known for his annual retreats where he brings books to read and little else. This time away helps him gain perspective on what has transpired in the past year and where he can direct Microsoft in the future to assure its success.

Head With Question MarksThrough reflection, we can clear away the “noise level” of our modern existence. We are bombarded by phone calls, Internet information and communications, and an overwhelming list of things to do. At times, it seems as if we are on a tread mill that is only getting faster.

Without interrupting the patterns of our daily life, we can quickly become removed from what is truly important to us in our work and life. We lose sight of what is really going on and become increasingly imprisoned in a smaller and smaller world, with less satisfaction with almost everything.

So how about you? What are the practices you have to gain perspective on your work and life? What do you do to step out of the daily demands for your time and attention – to deliberately choose your next steps?

My own practice is:

* I sit quietly each morning before my day begins to decide what my intentions are for that day. I use this picture to help me make choices about what to do and not do during the day.

* At the end of each day, I reflect on what happened. I look for lessons that will aid me in being more deliberate. I also look for any people that I feel incomplete with. I decide what I need to do to make sure that I don’t carry any judgments or ill-feelings into the next day.

* I deliberately choose to read books that challenge my common sense. They help me look beyond my beliefs about what is possible and consider many things from a new perspective.

* I make sure that I connect with nature as frequently as possible. This allows me to remember that my work is only one aspect of my life.

* I write each day. This helps me express myself and remember my purpose.


Until later,



Technorati Tags: , , ,

Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

1 thought on “Leading through Reflection”

  1. Thomas,
    I am always surprised at how close at hand ‘stillness’ is. All it takes is a few conscious breathes in the midst of a chaotic or anxious moment to re-ground oneself. It’s possible to do this no matter where you are.

    I put as many conscious breathes in my day as possible and whenever I notice I am not awake and present.

    I feel conscious breath is a microcosm of the reflection you are talking about. It is a way to ‘clear away the noise level”, and “interrupting the patterns of daily life” in the midst of action.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s