Julius Caesar is famous for coining the phrase, “Experience is the teacher of all things.” Benjamin Franklin put his own spin on it when he said, “Experience is the best teacher, but a fool will learn from no other.”
While I get their meaning very well, and am out of my depth to contradict two of the greatest men in history, I politely offer these modifications:
Reflected experience is the teacher of all things.
Experience that is reflected upon is the best teacher, but a fool never reflects.
It is only when we look back on our experiences through the objective lens of time and distance that we can identify those areas where we are doing well and those areas where we can improve, and make a plan for that improvement.
In a previous post we discussed that what we traditionally refer to as failure is nothing but feedback, and that a good practice for those that wish to be high achievers is to fail more and fail faster. But in order for you to maximize the value of your “feedback” you must reflect upon it.
This leads to the discipline of reflection. Each day set aside a short time, even 15 minutes, to reflect. If you’re a morning person, do it in the morning. If you’re a night owl do it each evening.
Review the previous day. Reflect on each interaction you had with other people, how you spent your time, and your thoughts and attitudes during the day. What went well? What would you do differently if you had that situation to do over again? What lessons did you learn? Make notes in a journal. Then make your plan for the next day and how you are going to apply what you learned.
Doing this each day will cause your feedback loop to become immensely useful and productive. You will begin to see massive improvement in your performance in all areas very quickly, and you will no doubt begin to pass your peers who do not reflect.
Just imagine what even one month of constant reflection will do for advancing you in the direction of your dreams!