Do You Reflect? – 4 Simple Questions To Make Your Reflection A Habit

Written By Kevin Watson

On April 12, 2016

Do You Reflect? – 4 Simple Questions To Make Your Reflection A Habit

Apr 12, 2016Reflection

Kevin Watson

Kevin Watson

Director & Lead Coach

When do you take time out to reflect?

Is it at the end of the day or week? The end of the month, or even the year?
Perhaps after a project or challenging piece of work? Maybe you reflect after a particularly tough conversation?
It’s important to recognise that without these moments to reflect, your growth as a leader would be somewhat constrained.
How can you go about achieving clarity and self-awareness?
Read on for 4 simple questions you should be asking yourself after every day.


Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.Peter Drucker


Questions for Reflection

The habit of reflection is one of the most powerful techniques you can adopt to help you grow as a leader.
However, for many the act of reflection is unfamiliar territory and may at first appear difficult, so it is useful to have a tried and tested framework to use.
Whilst traditional learning logs can be useful tools for some, the aim of using these questions to help you reflect and learn is to simply encourage objectivity and awareness of your experience, how you respond and what you learn from it.
Over time, they can be used to measure any changes you make and will serve as a useful reminder of what works for you in different situations.
By taking each question in order, you will be able to extract any learning from an event or experience.
Here they are:

1. What happened?

This first question encourages greater self-awareness of the event, by recording only the facts of what happened.
Initially, a single sentence may be all that you record. But with careful, repeated probing questioning, deeper insights and more analytical understanding of the situations you encounter can be uncovered.
Follow up questions may include:

    • why do you think it happened in that way?

2. How did you react?

The second question begins to surface your response to the experience – the thoughts, feelings and the behaviour. Again, be persistent and probing with your reflection to make the distinctions between thinking, emotions and behaviour.
Follow up questions include:

    • how did you feel as it happened?
    • how did this lead you to behave?

3. What have you learned?

The third question encourages you to recognise that deep-learning is usually a combination of both the previous two sections. This is often a very different way of thinking from some traditional learning approaches, which tend to emphasise the need to memorise and regurgitate hard information or ‘facts’.
Follow up questions may include:

    • what have you learned before that is similar?

4. When and/where will you apply your learning?

The fourth question encourages the application of deep-learning into everyday practice and behaviour.
Sometimes future actions can be captured in a single sentence. But try using the SMART acronym, as it will help to focus your commitment on specific measurable actions within a definite time frame rather than recording a simple good intention.
Follow up questions may include:

    • what can you develop further from this?
    • how will this help you achieve your goals?

Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.Margaret J. Wheatley


Call to Action

This reflective framework may, at first sight, seem deceptively simple. But, as it grows in familiarity, it can become a really powerful habit.
For everyday use, a single sentence or bullet point in each section may be all that needs to be recorded. The key is simplicity.
Let me know how you find it by leaving a comment below or dropping me a line.

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