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Rethinking Reflection…. Why "On Refraction" is the Key to Personal and Professional Growth





We've all heard the age-old advice that at the end of each week, we should take some time to reflect on our experiences and actions. The idea is that by pondering over what we've done, we can learn from our mistakes, replicate our successes, and ultimately improve our lives. But what if this popular concept of reflection is missing a crucial element? What if we've been using the wrong term all along? Perhaps it is time to reconsider the phrase "on reflection" and replace it with "on refraction."


Reflection vs. Refraction


Reflection, in the context of personal growth, often implies a retrospective analysis of our past actions and experiences. While reflecting has its merits, it primarily involves looking back and observing what has already happened. It's like gazing into a rearview mirror, examining the past without necessarily altering the course of our future.


On the other hand, refraction suggests a different approach, one that involves not merely looking back but bending and redirecting the light of our past experiences to illuminate the path ahead. By refracting, we can split our problems and successes into actionable insights that guide our decisions and actions, making the upcoming week more successful.


Why Reflection Falls Short


Firstly, the act of reflecting can often become a passive exercise. It's easy to get lost in thoughts and observations without taking the necessary steps to address our weaknesses or capitalise on our strengths. Reflection, by itself, doesn't propel us forward.

Then comes Analysis Paralysis. It’s a big problem when you constantly find yourself looking back on the week that was. Reflecting too much very often leads to a time drain where we become consumed with what happened, instead of how we can avoid the problem in the future. It's possible to overthink our past actions and their implications, which also causes stress and anxiety without yielding substantial results.


Reflecting alone also doesn't guarantee that we will learn from our mistakes. We might identify our missteps but lack a clear strategy to prevent their recurrence in the future. So what can we do differently?


The Power of Refraction


Refraction, on the other hand, is an active process that involves breaking down our experiences into actionable components. Here's why it's a more effective method for personal growth:


Refraction allows us to focus on action points. When we refract our experiences, we naturally turn our attention towards actionable steps. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong or right, we concentrate on how to implement changes for a better outcome in the future.

It also encourages a problem-solving mindset. Instead of getting lost in the things that went wrong, refraction encourages problem-solving and forward-thinking. It prompts us to address the issues we've identified and devise strategies to overcome them, effectively bending the light of our past experiences to illuminate potential solutions.

Another massive benefit if the mindful setting of goals. By refracting our week, we gain clarity on our goals and how to achieve them. It directs our attention to specific actions we need to take to meet those objectives, ensuring a more purposeful and successful week ahead.





How to Embrace Refraction


I was reminded of the concept of changing the phrase to “on refraction” while looking at a rainbow last weekend. It was quite surreal my brain simply thought “the light goes in white and comes out with all of the other colours” … “what if a problem could go in and all of the answers could come out of the other side” I hadn’t been drinking and wasn’t really thinking about work at the time it was just one of those moments in time when my brain stopped working normally, I suppose. The strange thing was this isn’t the first time I had had this thought, the rainbow just reminded me of it.

So, having used this concept for some time I concluded ( now reminded of its effectiveness ) it would be a good idea to share it, maybe it will help you? Changing the way you review your weeks work and using refraction instead of reflection can make a big difference in how you tackle tasks and progress through your challenges both short and long term.

I am not a coach, nor do I want to be… but if I were, my best advice for embracing the concept of refraction would be this.

· Set clear objectives, start each week with a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. This clarity will make it easier to refract your experiences in line with your goals.


· Take actionable notes throughout the week, jot down your observations, both positive and negative. Don't just record what happened but focus on what can be done differently next time.


· Review and adjust. At the end of the week, review your notes and split your experiences into actionable steps. Consider what changes are necessary for a more successful upcoming week.


"Reflection" may be a well-worn term in personal development, but it's time to consider its limitations. By replacing it with "refraction," we shift our mindset from passive contemplation to active problem-solving. We acknowledge our past experiences while simultaneously charting a course for a more successful future. So, next time you're wrapping up your week, remember the power of refraction – it might just be the key to unlocking your true potential.

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