On Reflection – Turning Experience into Insight

Reflection is what turns experience into insight” says John Maxwell in his end-of-year blog post as he encourages great leaders to pause in their life to prepare for the coming year. It is a time to look back on what they had done, whom they had met, and the changes they had realized in their own life and the lives of those whom they served.

In this preparation, it is not only an assessment of what can be improved incrementally. It is a deeper more profound exploration driven by their life’s purpose and meaning. Last year, as every year, they opened their eyes to new ways of seeing the world – their mindset, work, perspectives, themselves – which provided new paths to travel and explore. Their reflection is a time of an exciting and profound renewal. They enter the new year knowing in the depths of their mind, heart and soul that the best is yet to come… and it will because they will choose it to be. As Theodore Roosevelt tells great leaders: “Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.”

As we begin this new year may we remember the words of Brad Paisley: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” May this beautiful and wondrous next chapter of our magnificent life’s journey be our best yet! Yes, the best is yet to come. Life is so very, very beautiful.

Have a beautiful and wondrous day and our best new year yet!

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2 Responses to On Reflection – Turning Experience into Insight

  1. Eugene Siskoske says:


    This is a wonderfully written article. We must not forget the true value of reflection and the positive impact it has on our future.

    I have subscribed to this blog!

    Thank you,
    Eugene S.

  2. Jack Beach says:

    Maxwell’s assertion that “Reflection is what turns experience into insight” is an essential principle of leadership development—but one that is largely overlooked. There is a common heuristic (at least I think it is common) that leadership development is 10 percent classroom instruction, 20 percent on-the-job coaching and mentoring, and 70 percent experience. What we generally fail to do, however, is shed light on: “How do we learn from experience?”

    Many assume that learning is automatic and uniform. Yet, we can easily find examples where two people have the same experience and different takeaways—and a third person may have no takeaway at all. Robert J. Thomas (How Do You Find What Matters in Experience: Becoming a More Effective Leader) puts it more succinctly, “Experience by itself guarantees nothing.”

    Although we usually do learn something from experience we do not necessarily learn as much or as quickly as we could—or for that matter, the right things! By reflecting on our experiences, we gain the ability to articulate the lessons to ourselves and to others. By being able to give voice to our experiences, we can not only share lessons learned with others, but we can also accelerate our own development. Without reflection on experience and articulation of the lessons learned, our learning will be haphazard and incremental at best.

    As always Mike, thanks for passing this on.

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