Leaders help people navigate an uncertain world. They can see the trip ahead and predict hazards that might arise. That is what inspires people to follow their vision.
John C. Maxwell recognizes the importance of navigation in leadership. The Law of Navigation is one of “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” in his book.
Where do leaders gain these awesome navigation skills? They gain them the same way any sea captain does. They lead the ship over calm and stormy seas. The experiences they gain are vital, but that’s not where they gain their vision. Their vision comes from what happens after the boat reaches the harbour.
Great leaders think back and evaluate their performance. Often when we are in the middle of the sea of real-life experience, we get carried away by the moment. The learning comes later when the boat has been docked and we have time to think about what happened.
John C. Maxwell calls this reflective thinking. He says, “When you reflect, you are able to put an experience into perspective… reflective thinking enables you to distance yourself from the intense emotions of particularly good or bad experiences and see them with fresh eyes.”
When you take the time to consider both good and bad experiences, you gain a truer perspective. Going forward, you can act with emotional integrity and have confidence in your decisions. Having a clearer picture brings value to everyone. You become a leader with strong navigation skills. Throughout your life, you continue to improve and grow. You help others do the same.
Leaders are often engaged in the enthusiastic pursuit of forward motion. In short, they get things done, and that is important. But they also recognize the importance of taking a pause to reflect on opportunities and challenges.
Here are a few tips to help you make the discipline of reflective thinking a part of your life:
“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” -Vince Lombardi
The best is yet to come. It starts with you.