Reflect Improve and Build

By Micah Slavens on Nov. 23, 2010

Moving towards personal and professional development.

What we’ve done in the past informs what we do today.

Yes, it’s a bit of an obvious statement, but I think it’s still valuable to consider. The things we do in the moment have all these little tiny fingerprints from what we’ve done before. We all have have memories, perceptions and life lessons learned, and I think we benefit when create time and space to reflect on them. Reflection is a big part of the learning process and ultimately helps improve what we do in the future.

So, Reflect.

We have way too many learning moments in the past to remember them all. I read too many good articles over the span of a week let alone this past year to remember them all. How do we reflect with a barrage of good thoughts and ideas to think about? I don’t claim to be an expert on this sort of thing, but part of good reflection is using tools and methods to help you remember what is useful.

When my parents were building their house. They had these big folders filled with magazine clippings of homes, theories from books and sketches of ideas. These were accumulated over the course of five years, and they represented all the good ideas my parents wanted to incorporate into their house. When it came time to draft a blueprint, all those earmarked and catalogued ideas helped them make better decisions for what is one of the biggest expenses in their life.

It was just a simple file folder (not an app?!?), but it helped informed the way they thought.

When a good idea comes along but isn’t particularly useful immediately, hang onto it and wait for the day where it could be indispensable. One thing that I think this practise does is it protects us from just blindly responding to the fads or blips of the day. A good idea doesn’t have an expiry date.

Improve thyself.

We all do things a certain way today, but that doesn’t mean it should necessarily be done that way forever. One of the best questions to ask yourself is Why? This shouldn’t imply that we should all play the cynic or the skeptic. Rather, we should ask ourselves tough questions not because we want to tear something down, but rather because we want to be a part of making something better.

Another thing to consider about improvement is that it is iterative. Rarely is there ever a single one-time change that radically improves the nature of something. Instead most improvements are small in nature and happen frequently. Look at software, there are constant improvements and versions of great software launched daily. The day to day changes aren’t noticeable, but over the span of months the small changes can show huge progress.

Build away.

Just like my parents, there is a time to go ahead, push the ‘go’ button and build. Many of our ideas sit on the sidelines because we don’t think it’s the right time to implement them. We face decision paralysis and we can be drawn to the idea that no change is better than a bad change.

But with most things, you don’t have to change everything at once. Tweak here, modify there, dabble with this, etc. When we get our ideas out into the game, even just a little, we can see whether they have merit or not, learn from them and can make a better decision.

Reflect. Improve. Build.

The main thing to remember is this isn’t a one-time linear process. This is a cycle: Reflect. Improve. Build. Reflect. Improve. Build. Reflect Improve. Build.

The cycle puts your ideas in motion. It allows for easier collaboration with others, and in the end you’ll be moving forward and making things better.

Also remember we have to become comfortable seeing things as dynamic rather than static. Then we see that things are always changing and it becomes much easier think about putting effort into making things better.

Micah Slavens


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