Ten Ways To Enjoy A Reflection Sandwich

I haven’t spent enough time reflecting in my life.  I have spent a lot of time thinking, but little time reflecting.

I think about things I want from others instead of what others want from me.  Too many times, its’ about taking and not giving.  I don’t reflect on my own leadership. I don’t reflect on my attitudes and behaviors.

Thinking, alone leads to selfish actions.  Self-reflection is followed by thoughtful action.

In Scripture, Jesus taught, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5 NIV)

Have you ever wondered why we quickly see the faults in others before we see them in ourselves?  It’s easy to become an expert in examining others.  In His teachings, Jesus warns that if we engage in this with others, we should expect the same kind of treatment in return.  Eugene Peterson, in The Message says this kind of “critical spirit has a way of boomeranging”. (Matt 7:2 MSG)

There is a stern caution as well as a simple consideration to help with this struggle.

Self Control.  Take a moment and count to ten . . . there’s great value in thinking before speaking.  A quick and effective reflection can take place before we express our opinions.

Self Consideration.  It’s easier for us to major on the minors . . . especially when the minor is with someone else and the major is in our own backyard.  There is a selfless and significant value in self-reflection.

Self Correction.  Sadly, other’s toothpicks are insignificant compared to our own trees.  An acknowledgement, acceptance and addressing of our shortcomings helps us stay in the lane of serving others.

First century writer, the Apostle James gives us a tender caution, “For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.” (Jam 1:23-24 NLT)

Strategist Dan Rockwell introduces the Action-Reflection-Action Sandwich concept.  “Bread represents action in the sandwich. Peanut butter represents reflection. There’s much more bread than peanut butter.  But without peanut butter, all you have is useless navel-gazing.”

ACTION leads to REFLECTION which leads to ACTION

When situations are not working out, we reflect from a negative lens.  Reflection without action produces:

  • Discouragement.
  • Self-pity.
  • Fear.
  • Helplessness.
  • Frustration.
  • Disappointment.
  • Bitterness.

When things are going well, we reflect through a positive lens.  The reflection without action produces:

  • Self-congratulation.
  • Ingratitude.
  • Entitlement.
  • Complacency.
  • Overconfidence.
  • Stagnation.
  • Arrogance.

When action leads to reflection and responsive action occurs, we see a balance approach where:

  • Self-awareness leads to authentic action.
  • Patterns are recognized . . . both constructive and destructive.
  • Personal attitudes and behaviors are the main focus.
  • Self-knowledge produces confidence and openness (not confidence and arrogance).
  • Personal development is more important than changing others.
  • Nagging irritations are motivation, not simply frustration.
  • Humility is both the reason and the result of the process.

Start keeping digital notes or a physical journal and list your actions.  Take a few minutes at the end of the day to look in the mirror, reflect and act.

  1. What did I plan to accomplish?
  2. What actually occurred?
  3. What went well and why?
  4. What didn’t go well and why?
  5. What was missing?
  6. What was confusing?
  7. What am I learning?
  8. What can be improved and how?
  9. What do I really want?
  10. What was my greatest contribution, today?

Vernon Brewer, CEO of World Help says, “I try to live my life in such a way that every day I try to accomplish at least one thing that will outlive me and last for eternity.”

What will be your most significant accomplishments?  Changing others . . . or challenging others.  It’s toothpicks or trees.

Act . . . Reflect . . . Act, and those trees in your own eyes will be gone and you will see the forest of true leadership.

(Concept and thoughts from Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak)

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