Reflections and the Strategic Mind

I was recently on a vacation and wrote this piece about self-reflection that I want to share with you now.

Having a strategic mind or the ability to think strategically is highly valued by many in the business world, myself included.  It requires the ability to look outside yourself, to observe and to think critically about the big picture in your current reality/marketplace, together with a strong intuitive sense of where markets are headed and where innovation can create big opportunities and strategic advantage.  For real effectiveness, this visionary component must be accompanied by the ability to identify the critical steps to be taken, in the proper order, to convert great ideas to action in a sustainable way. Such competence often makes the difference between the extremes of being highly successful and eventually disappearing.

While this strategic mind is highly valuable, it can also get in the way of some of the deeper reflection required to develop and master your leadership mindset. Check it out. Find yourself a quiet time and just try to shut it off long enough to gain some really good new insight into yourself.

Unless you have practiced yoga, meditation or other mind quieting disciplines, you will probably quickly find your mind in “action mode” going over your task list, your travel plans, remembering all the things you have failed to address, or if nothing else, planning your version of a grocery list.

As a case in point, I will report on myself.  I am currently bobbing on a mooring ball in a beautiful little anchorage call Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau Island in the Southern Caribbean Islands.  The palm trees are waving in a luscious breeze, the temperature is about perfect, the water a beautiful turquoise as it laps up on the long, curving sand beach.  But I digress, the real point is that despite near perfect conditions for presence and reflection, my mind tends to constantly go to reviewing our cruise plan, double-checking distances, being sure we've planned all the necessary customs and immigration check-ins and check-outs that will be required, and checking wind speed and direction.  Are you kidding me? We're anchored. We're here for the night. We have no access to new weather reports from here, and the speed and direction hardly change much from day-to-day at this time of year anyway.  Later I'll be lying under a bright starry sky and that won't stop my mind much either!

So it's clear to me that perfect circumstances are not going to do the work for me and probably not for you either. As far as I know, the only real access to the "deeper work" that is required to really catalyze your leadership development is going to come from self-observation.  If I don't self-observe, I can't self-correct.  

I'm going to offer a couple of suggestions and then go practice them myself:  

1) Ask myself one or two really great questions to focus my reflections.

2) Reflect and be with them without rushing to “the answer” for as long as I can.

3) See if I can get quiet enough to hear the deeper answers, beyond the task list and action items level.