Saturday, September 24, 2016

Reflection or Blame?

In education, we’re constantly talking about the need to reflect upon our work.  The reflection, we know, will make us consider what we could do differently; lead us to make necessary changes; and come out, the next time, better than before. 

But reflection can easily begin—and end—with assigning blame.  Which doesn’t help anything.

It doesn’t reflect.  It deflects. 

Let’s say I’m running a staff meeting that quickly devolves into a mess.  It’s disorganized and cluttered and disjointed.  Not knowing what else to do, I stutter and stumble through.  Later, back in my office, I admit to myself, “Wow.  That didn’t go well… at all.” I might think to myself:
  • The people in the back weren’t paying attention.
  • They didn’t even bring the agenda I sent them.
  • We have GOT to re-configure the space in the room.
  • They don’t realize that this stuff I’m telling them is important.
  • They show zero respect for me, as their leader.

But these things?  These are not reflection.  Instead, they just assign blame to the things that led to a crappy meeting.

So how could I ask some questions that would lead to genuine change?  Simply twisting the questions to include the word “I” might help:

  • What could I do to engage the people in the back of the room?
  • The agendas I create aren’t valued.  What is their value?  Should I re-think why and how I create them?
  • Am I utilizing the space well? 
  • Why do I feel I am not respected?  What action steps could I put into place to work through this?

Problems are never solved well with a pointed finger… unless the finger is pointed directly, squarely, and aggressively right to our own chests.  Just like looking in a mirror shows us ourselves, that’s what we should see when we try to work through challenges.  That,  (said the mirror), is real reflection.

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