Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reflections on Reflecting - Part Two

So how do you get better at reflecting? How do you get better at weighing up all the variables, possibilities, contributing factors, to a situation or circumstance?

Here are a few quick fire thoughts...

1. Understand your biases - we all have them, we are all biased towards all sorts of different things in all sorts of different situations. We have complex personality biases, biases due to nature and biases due to nurture. We have simple biases, some people are more negative than positive, some people all ways take the side of the underdog. Know your biases and take them into account when you are reflecting on something.

2. Ask someone what they think and why they think it - have you ever noticed that different people have different opinions than you on all sorts of things? Have you ever noticed that some of these people (one or two) are intelligent and wise people that you respect? How can these intelligent people draw conclusions on an issue so different to yours? Ask them. It will give you insight into their reflective process and perhaps allow you to see things from a different perspective.

3. Try using different thinking hats has you reflect - this just means intentionally thinking about things from different perspectives. Negative, positive, objective, creative, etc, etc. Make your own (figurative not literal) or use Edward de Bono's.

4. Learn to mull - that is to think over, consider, dwell upon, ponder, muse, contemplate, and weigh. Certain situations require quick thinking, instant consideration of all the facts known, and decisions to be made. Where possible; mull. Take time to consider. It can be over the course of a week, a couple of weeks, overnight, or best off all with some cheese and crackers and a fine Shiraz (all though not possible when you are required to mull over something at work). Basically practice slowing things down where possible to give careful consideration.

5. Converse more - make an effort to have more conversations and more meaningful conversations with the world around you. Learn to ask questions, this will get conversation going and also allow you to hear other people's considered (hopefully) opinions. You'll never know what your learn. As you reflect on what they think, don't just reflect on their theories, reflect on how they may have come to their conclusions and ask them. You'll learn a lot that could help you.

Here are some things to reflect on...

* What are we going to do about child abuse in New Zealand? What could you or I do?
* How green has God called us to be? What part should Christians play in looking after the environment?
* What are the top 10 essentials of every summer break? Will test match cricket make the cut?

I look forward to reflecting on these issues in future posts.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reflections on Reflecting - Part One

Reflecting on reflecting sounds quite deep and meaningful. Perhaps even complex like looking at a mirror through another mirror back at another mirror, oohh. The whole scenario has the potential to get very complicated, deep and philosophical. A little bit like the comment I recently received from the marker of my latest assignment…

‘The key question is whether the popularisation goes so far as to boil the book down either into inapplicability, or into incoherence?; ‘reductio ad absurdum,’ to use the Latin phrase.’

Now tell me, is a comment like that really necessary? Or even helpful?

Who really cares? Well sadly in the world of academia things like that are just par for the course; or should I say ‘par pro tractus?’ Which I would say except that it sounds a bit like ‘pass the protractor,’ which isn’t really that flash.

Without in anyway wishing to get deep or philosophical I thought I would share a few thoughts on reflection and the need to be able to reflect well.

Reflection is the process of careful thought. It is the process through which considered ideas are formed. It is the process through which we filter that which we hear, see, feel, and experience and then draw conclusions.

It is a process that many people are inept at.

Reflection is an attribute that is sadly lacking in many people. It could be because of the postmodern (everything is true – nothing is true) world that we live in. Why bother reflecting? It could be because of the incredible access we have to information. Why should you think about something when you can just Google it and find the answer waiting for you on the web? It could be because people are in fact generally lazy. Most people don’t want to think for themselves or don’t believe that are ‘bright’ enough to think for themselves, especially about something even remotely complex. ‘Leave that to the bright sparks who write books and speak Latin.’

Whatever the reason – everybody needs to learn to reflect.

For sure some people will reflect on deeper more complex issues than others, but everyone needs to be able to reflect. Especially in regards to questions such as…

- Why do I believe what I believe about __________?
- Why do I react the way I do when __________ happens?
- Why is ___________ a recurring issue or circumstance in my life?

We need to practice reflecting and learn to reflect because…

Not everything you read in a book is true.
Not everything you google or wiki is true.
Not everything you hear in a sermon is true.
Not everything you believe is true.
Not everything people tell you is true.
Not everything that happened was caused by the things you thought caused it.

And so on and so on.

Reflecting is the first stage of learning and will lead you down a path of significant personal growth. You’ll learn humility, to listen, to search, to discover, to balance, and to draw more accurate conclusions.

It will enable you to stand stronger, firmer, more confident, and more certain in life; while at the same time living more teachable, mouldable, and willing to change than ever before.