Snapshots Announcements Spotlight UTSA Athletics

May 2011, Issue 10

Message from the Vice President

Dr. Gage E. Paine

“Unfortunately, too often it’s the people’s failures that get them to reflect on their experiences. When you’re going along and everything is working well, you don’t sit down and reflect. Which is exactly the moment when you should do it.” ~ Warren Bennis quoting Barbara Corday

An important, though often neglected, leadership task is reflection. Reflection time allows us to learn from successes as well as mistakes. Reflection time helps us with time management, because we’re better able to focus our efforts in the most effective ways. Unfortunately, in the press of the day’s phone calls, e-mails and meetings, reflection time is often what falls to the bottom of the to-do list. That’s why our ‘session’ today is designed to create an opportunity for reflection.

There are many ways to ‘reflect.’ Sometimes getting up from the chair and walking away from the desk is the best way to reflect. A short walk across campus can help clear the cobwebs from the brain and we then have a clearer idea about an issue or program. Have you ever worked a jigsaw puzzle and gotten frustrated because you can’t find a critical piece that you are sure must be obvious? You know if you give up and walk away, most of the time, when you walk back to the table the piece seems to jump out at you. In the same way, if we are struggling with something, stopping our work and thinking about something else--reading a short article, or completing another simpler task--will help us gain new insight.

Today, I’m going to give you a chance to practice reflection right now as you read this.

First, grab a sheet of paper and a pen and place them both next to your keyboard.

Next, pick one meeting or conversation that you had today. It could be a meeting that went well or one that was difficult. Your choice, and there is no right or wrong. Just grab the first one that came to mind when you read the first sentence of this paragraph.

As you read this sentence, take a deep breath and then let it out slowly. I’m willing to bet that, whether you intended it or not, just reading that sentence helped your breathing change. Try it one more time – deep breath in and deep breath out.

Now, pick up your pen and on your sheet of paper answer these two questions about the meeting or conversation you selected. (And yes, I really mean write it down. The act of writing helps focus our thoughts and helps us articulate those thoughts more fully. Then our ideas are captured and we remember them more accurately.)

1) What’s one thing I learned from this meeting/conversation?

2) What’s one question I still have?

See? That didn’t take so long, did it? You’ve just accomplished something that will help you do your job more effectively and be a stronger, more thoughtful leader. It seems to me that reflection is one of those tasks that we make more difficult than it really needs to be. Here’s this week’s challenge: Copy that boxed section and keep it on your desk and at least once a day walk through the steps (including the deep breathing) and answer the two questions. At the end of the week, take a little longer time for reflection and analyze the experience. How did it work for you? What did you learn? If it worked for you, great; keep it up. If it didn’t, can you devise something that works for you?

Have a great week and I look forward to hearing what you learned by trying to add more opportunities for reflection into your day.

Best wishes,