The Necessity of Reflection

Written by David Pullan

The Necessity of Reflection

For the last week McKechnie and I have been working in India, and I feel as if I have learned as much from the experience as I hope our clients did from us.


One of our colleagues on the event was Dr Jen Jenkins from The Positive Group who worked with the delegates on their personal resilience.


At the heart of Jen’s message is the fact that it isn’t what happens to us that is the issue, it is the way we react to it; or as Shakespeare put it, ‘There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.’ 


One of the key tools that Jen used to help people understand their reactions to situations is what Positive call the Emotional Barometer. Essentially it is a matrix in which the two axes represent

  1. The level of your energy from low to high, and 
  2. The quality of your energy from negative to positive.


A very simple analysis would give you,

  1. Low Energy/Negative Quality = Depression
  2. High Energy/ Negative Quality = Anger
  3. Low Energy/High Quality = Reflection
  4. High Energy/High Quality =  Dynamism.


Now you don’t have to be a genius to see that 1 and 2 aren’t great spaces to be in. Apart from the effect they have on your blood pressure and the messages they send to others, they shut down a lot of your cognitive function and mean you are only partially effective as a leader. All I can say is that if you spot yourself in either space look into tools such as self coaching, positive appreciation and mindfulness to help you to move away from them.


But what I learned about the other two options gave me pause for thought. 


In my solution focussed, ‘time is money’ Western mindset I had assumed that Dynamism is the motherlode for which we all seek. Well think again young Pullan, for you have much to learn.


Apparently Reflection is the most vital of the four spaces. It allows you to find the tools you need so that you can spring into Dynamism, and it provides an oasis of calm in which to recharge and analyse.


Of course Dynamism is vital, but it is impossible without giving enough value to Reflection.


And this is exactly what I saw in India.


Anyone who has been there will tell you what a sensory overload it is. Nothing prepares you for the extremes you will witness and the sheer onslaught of life in the major cities.


Yet despite the pressures, I can honestly say that I have never witnessed people who live on the boundary of Reflection and Dynamism with such commitment.


What I saw was people who thought deeply about their circumstances and then exploded in an infectious wave of joyous action. It is no accident that this is the land that gave us both yoga and Bollywood.


So this week I want you to think about how much time you are giving yourself to reflect. Are you putting it into your diary as dedicated time that will help you and others? Or are you grabbing the odd minute here and there as pressure permits?


On another note, I want to draw your attention to this week’s photo. It is done by the guys at Electric Lime They are amazing people to work with and are the epitome of Reflection and Dynamism. They think deeply about their work and then go completely nuts. Believe me…I ended up in a tuk tuk race through the streets of Delhi because of them.









  • W B Yeats

    'Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.'