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Author: Lisa Colton

High Holidays Lessons for Everyone: Using Reflection to Move Forward

Fall is always a time of transition when vacations are over, school years are starting, and the weather changes. Transitions are always a time for reflection, regrouping, and looking forward.

When a leader retires, the organization must take stock of where they are at, and what they need for the next era. When a child starts the new school year, parents reflect on how far they’ve come and what milestones they’ll achieve this year. My seven-year old daughter, for example, is just having that amazing reading explosion, and I’m excited to think about what books she’ll be reading independently by the end of the school year.

See3 has worked with many organizations within the Jewish community for years. And for the Jewish community, this is a time of very serious introspection and reflection. Rosh Hashanah (literally “Head of the Year”) is later this month, celebrating the start of the Hebrew calendar, and Yom Kippur (literally “Day of Atonement”) follows shortly thereafter. These two holidays together make up a period of reflection that helps everyone think about self-improvement, and recommit to themselves and the community.

At See3, we have been thinking a lot about “lean” models, “agile development”, and the empathetic “design thinking” approach. All of these approaches -- strategic, technical and creative – are based on iterations. Try something out, evaluate how it’s going, be reflective, and iterate. Just like in life, there’s no one finish line – it’s a constant process of growth, evolution and self-improvement.

So, at this time of seasonal transition and personal reflection, we also want to encourage you to step back professionally to appreciate what you and your team have accomplished over the past year, to reflect on what you’ve learned and how it might inform the future. When we’re often so focused on strategy and outcomes, perhaps this is a valuable opportunity to think about your organizational culture, how you appreciate and support one another, and how you’re growing (individually and collectively) as professionals.

A few great places to start:

  • Check out 10Q, a project of Reboot. Starting September 24th, they’ll send you one question per day for 10 days. They’ll save your answers and share them back a year later to help you reflect on how you’ve grown. Keep the answers private, or share with your team to get to know each other better.
  • This is a great reflection sheet for groups of educators based on the Jewish concept of “heshbon hanefesh” (accounting of one’s soul), that you can adapt for many settings.
  • The Harvard Business Review has a great recorded webinar on coaching employees that you might find useful in designing a reflective process.

At Rosh Hashanah we say, “L’Shana Tova U'Metukah,” a Hebrew phrase meaning “For a good and sweet new year.” We have a tradition of dipping apples in honey to ring in that sweetness. Honey straight on the tongue is pretty great. If you’re not Jewish, I recommend you use this reflective practice as an excuse to try it!

How do you do annual personal, professional and/or team reflection? Why is it valuable? Share with us in the comments.

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