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Finding IT: Getting to the Heart of Reflection

How to survive the world of white
A. Reflect on who I am. “I’m
a consultant with the Leadership and Team
Development group at Target. One example is
trying each day to understand my purpose in life Target’s Executive Leadership program. The
as it affects my relationship with God,” is one reflection tools used in the program include self-
reflection. Other reflections in this article assessments, 360-degree feedback, journaling,
include research and survey results from 80 coaching, mentoring, and open forums for
business professionals related to the above discussion and synthesis of data.
dilemma. Challenges:
It is not even a reality for a lot of organizations,
TREND Bassett explained, because for many
organizations, intrapersonal development for
In a world besieged by doing more with less, individuals is not part of the culture. In fact,
working smarter not harder, and increased only 15-30% of organizations are long-term
velocity, people’s purpose and focus is reflective companies that are committed to
increasingly fragmented. We have permanently employee development, explained Michael
entered the “world of white water” – Peter Norman, an organizational development
Vaill’s (1996) phrase to describe the consultant who specializes in service
unpredictable environment and turbulent waves development. With a tool called “The Learning
of change in which we work and live. Having Organization Assessment,” Bernie Saunders, a
entered permanent white water, we all must partner with Integra Learning Systems, Inc., has
learn to personally and professionally ride these individuals assess their organizations. He said
constant waves of change. Popular business the following statement specifically addresses
literature suggests that a trend or fad, like reflection: “There is sufficient time scheduled
developing a learning organization, will help into people’s professional calendars to step back
individuals and organizations cope with white from day to day operations and reflect on what
water. Instead we need to heed wisdom that has is happening in the organization.” According to
roots as deep as the immortal Greek philosopher Saunders, individuals always rate the question
Plato: “know thyself” and “an unexamined life not at all or to a slight extent.
is not worth living.” Plato’s ancient wisdom
reveals the importance of self-development and TO KNOW THYSELF
reflection as a vision for individuals and

The vision of having a high level of self-
M astery of the outside world starts with the
practice of mastery deep within oneself.
Goleman (1995) argues that those who are
awareness is essential for individuals and emotionally intelligent (the ability to understand
organizations’ progress. Evidence exists that the yourself; how you think, feel and what you want
vision is becoming a reality for some individuals out of life) are at an advantage in any domain in
and organizations today, but not for others. life. He refers to the foundation of emotional
Successes: intelligence as intrapersonal intelligence -- one
There is a transformation of meaning happening of Howard Gardner’s seven multiple
in the workplace, said Carrie Bassett, owner of intelligences. Someone who possesses a high
Wise Ways Consulting. Workers are intrapersonal intelligence is often described with
questioning meaning and making their “inner- the terms: sense of self, self-awareness, self-
world more evident to the outer-world” within knowledge, wisdom and intuition. Kline and
their organizations. For Target, reflection is a Saunders (1993) state that everyone in the work
critical learning and development component for force who undertakes the journey of self-
its employees on all levels, said Jeffrey Swartz, discovery becomes more of an asset because

engaging in inner contentment and developing a quality of what we do and how we live.
life plan is one of the best ways to celebrate life! Reflection is “the process of stepping back from
an experience to ponder, carefully and
Research Results: The “I am” statement persistently, its meaning to the self through the
The participants were asked to complete the development of inferences. When a person
sentence “I am…,” Their results are coded into engages in reflection the person takes an
seven themes. experience from the outside world, brings it
• self-description: “I am thoughtful and kind.” inside the mind, turns it over, makes connections
(16%) to other experiences and filters it through
• self as work “I am concerned about my personal biases” (Daudelin, 1996, p. 39).
position.” (8%)
• self as being: “I am a spiritual being in Research Results: Reflection Methods
human form.” (16%) There are many ways to reflect. Out of the
• self as process: “I am in the midst of an following 14 methods asked, participants
ageless journey.” (24%) typically used 10 either on a personal and/or
professional level: journals, affirmations, prayer,
• self as roles: “I am a mother.” (10%)
mental imagery, mind mapping, meditation,
• other: “I am almost done.” (6%)
silent time, exercise, music, coaching,
• Left blank (20%) mentoring, performance appraisals, self-
assessment, and planning.
description The three most common methods used are
work planning (95%), Self-assessment (82%), and
8% Mental Imagery (76%). Half of the
professionals surveyed do not reflect with mind
10% 16% roles
mapping (56%), meditation (55%), or journals
24% left blank
(54%) which could enhance their personal and
professional development. If organizations
would spend a portion of their training budgets
Robert Coles’ (1976) extensive interviews with on introducing and supporting a variety of
middle-class Americans reveals how they relate formal reflection methods, then it would not
who they are (I am…) with a reference to the only be a valuable learning opportunity for the
work that they do: “…they feel they are what employees but for the organization as well.
they do: ‘I am a policeman’ or ‘I am a
machinist’” (p. 37). However, only 8% of the Reflection is crucial for learning. Vaill (1996)
participants in this study, who are middle-class says that in order to keep abreast of permanent
Americans as well, described themselves with a white water, learning needs to be a way of being.
reference to the work that they do. One reason Swartz said that self-reflection is often the most
for this discrepancy is that participants may have worth while, yet most difficult way to learn. He
shifted the focus from Coles’ research indicating explained that discovering and owning-up to
self as work to the current journey of self as these personal insights could sometimes be
process. Since self as process (24%) is three painful. Mary Jo Hanson, a consultant who
times that percentage (8%), it indicates the trend works with learning organizations, says that
of workers searching for fulfillment, purpose asking the right questions provides golden
and meaning. reflection opportunities: “The wisdom is more
deep for them when it comes from inside of their
Research Results: Reflection Value

R eflection is one of the best ways to develop Participants rated “myself” and “my company”
intrapersonal mastery and enhance the on the value of reflection with a 5-point

agreement scale with 1 being I strongly disagree SUMMARY
and 5 being I strongly agree.
In the midst of the world of white water lies the
latest workplace trend which urges us to jump
Q. Re fle ction tim e e ncourage d
on the buzzword bandwagon or to heed Plato's
simple and time-tested ancient wisdom of self-
5.0 my company development and reflection which urges us to
look within our selves for guidance. Those of us
S eries1 3.9 2.5 who see self as process, are willing to discover
who I am -- know thyself -- and engage in
reflection --an unexamined life is not worth
Q: Reflection is w asteful living.

5.0 my company
How will you survive the world of white water?

Series1 1.8 3.0
Coles, R. (1976). Work and self-
respect. Daedalus, 105, 29-38.
Q: Reflection valued for learning Daudelin, M. W. (1996). Learning
from experience through reflection.
M y company Organizational Dynamics, 24(3), 36-48.
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional
3.9 3.0
Intelligence:Why it can matter more than IQ.
New York: Bantam Books.
Kline, P. & Saunders, B. (1993). Ten
Steps to a Learning Organization. Arlington,
Q: No personal value from reflection VA: Great Ocean Publishers, Inc.
Vaill, P. B. (1996). Learning as a way
5.0 my company
of being: Strategies for survival in a World of
permanent White Water. San Francisco: Jossey-
Series1 1.5 2.6

Janae Bower is an inspirational teacher,
business consultant and award-winning author
What do these results tell us about the role and of the book The Little Girl Who Found IT. She
value of self-development and reflection? These works with organizations and individuals to help
professionals value reflection and believe it is a get IT. You can contact Janae at
valuable part of their learning, yet they don't, 612-554-1367 or
necessarily get the support from their to find out more about the
organizations to reflect. Reflection can be book and her work.
incorporated personally and professionally many

different ways, whether it is designed into
trainings or built into schedules. In whichever
way it is incorporated, participants’ results
indicate that reflection is a valuable tool that
promotes self-development, individual learning
and organizational learning.


Here are examples of two completed exercises you can use to reflect on who I am.

“I am Lifeline”

I am….
always on a spiritual searching for my very lost and
learning journey life’s purpose frustrated
today 6 weeks 6 months 1 year

 What would your “I am Lifeline” look like today, 6 weeks, 6 months and 1 year from now?

“I am Balance Sheet”

Debit Credit
I am statement: (increasing your assets) (decreasing your assets)

always learning increasing knowledge becoming unfocused

on a spiritual looking within having anxiety

searching for my feeling alive losing balance
life’s purpose

very lost and questioning meaning questioning faith

 What would your “I am Balance Sheet” look like?