The Power of Reflection

In sport, heck, in any kind of high performance pursuit, we talk a lot about goal setting and the mental toughness required to really put yourself out there and to maybe even fail (check out my blog on “Why Failure is Necessary” if you missed it). The path to our goals, especially our boldest and loftiest goals, is seldom a straight line: Picture a slinky, stretched wayyyyyy out – a spiral of sorts. Performance goes like that stretched, spiraled slinky – with moments of greatness, periods of stalling, and even some setbacks – up and down and around and around to your goal.

Enter in ‘Self-Reflection’ as a barometer of sorts. Self-reflection allows you to learn and find the good moments no matter where you happen to be on your spiral of progress.  Whether you’ve experienced your ideal result or had a setback, self-reflection gives you the tools to continue growing towards your goal.  That’s why I always advise athletes to engage in self-reflection after every performance, regardless of outcome (good or bad).  Self-reflection is different than debriefing your game, race, or performance; it’s more subtle than that, more like a private and compassionate conversation with yourself.

The trick to using self-reflection to grow towards even your loftiest goals is to regularly ask yourself the following 10 questions:

  1. What kind of person am I to set such lofty goals?
  2. What did it take to put myself to the test?
  3. What did I risk to compete this time?
  4. Did I execute my performance plan?
  5. Did I put it all on the line, or did I have something left to give?
  6. Was I coachable under pressure, did I self-correct?
  7. Did I support or role model for others during the event (as in leaders leading or team mates working together)?
  8. Did I improve on something since my last competition/event?
  9. What did I do well?
  10. What would I choose to improve on the next time?

In the answer to these 10 questions, you’ll discover many reasons to celebrate. If nothing else, you can celebrate that you took courageous actions and caused results that will now offer you feedback to improve and excel the next time! You can then choose what you want to do with that feedback (for instance, you don’t even have to use it all!!).

Now here’s the true magic of reflection: None of the celebration has anything to do with the score or the outcome, but rather on the process that led you to where you are! By focusing on the process vs. the results, you can then build success into EVERY performance, no matter the outcome!!

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