Rachel Carson’s books the Edge of the Sea and A Sense of Wonder introduced many readers to the “spectacle of life” in tidepools. Do you remember the first time you wandered to the edge of a tidepool? Perhaps, at first glance you did not notice anything. Suddenly, as your eyes settled, you noticed anenome tentacles waving in the water, hermit crabs chasing each other and periwinkles sliding along the top of a rock. Tidepooling requires that you slow down and observe. Consider taking a moment each week and “tidepool” in your office?
What would you notice about yourself? What if you looked at the experiences of your week from multiple perspectives, just like you do when tidepooling by the sea? The Center for Creative Leadership firmly believes that good leaders practice “surface and deep reflection”. As I thought about this recommendation I wondered if people would even know where to begin with those two types of reflection.
Perhaps, tidepooling is a way for leaders to do both surface and deep reflection.
Tidepooling in your office might look like this:
LOW TIDE: Tidepooling needs to be done at low tide. Therefore, the first step to office tidepooling is to schedule a time to reflect. Pick a regular time, each week when you will have the best visibility for self reflection.
FOCUS: Second, tidepooling requires you to focus just on the tidepool, not the sky, the sea, the bluffs overhead. Therefore, your second step for office tidepooling is to slow down and start focusing on you. Ask yourself: 1)What successes did I have this week? What strategies did I apply to achieve those successes? 2)What strengths did I apply to achieve my goals for the week? 3)Where did I have successful collaboration with a colleague? 4)What were my highest energy activities? 5)Where was my greatest performance? lowest performance?
REFLECTION: Third, as the tide waters retreat and your eyes settle, you will begin to see things you did not notice at first. Take your third step by beginning deeper reflection. Ponder… 1) When did I have a conversation that went well this week? What about my approach helped it to go well. 2)When did a conversation result in a poor outcome? What was I doing that contributed to the poor outcome of that conversation? What might I do differently? 3)When did I experience frustration? What was I doing that caused frustration for myself? and others? 4) What prevented me from moving myself closer to my greater goals? 4) What are the critical steps I must replicate next week? 5) What are the behaviors I want to stop doing? What will I do instead?
ENGAGEMENT: Last, as the water begins to rise in a tidepool, you’ll need to move quickly away from the edge. The tidepool waters will get deeper and you’ll begin to notice the sky, sea and land. This is your time to take your reflections even deeper. Look deeply at yourself:
- What am I doing to mentor and develop others so they will thrive as leaders?
- How can I be of better service to my community?
- Who in my community requires more support and resources to thrive?
- What is one thing I must shift this week to bring the best of myself to others: colleagues, family, friends, and neighbors?
As you complete your surface and deep reflection look up and around you. Step out of your office and take time to help your colleagues see their successes. Help them to have a sense of wonder about their performance, energy, and goals.
Dip your toes together into surface and deep reflection. Enjoy tidepooling together.