Reflection – The Power Of The Pause

The Law of Reflection says that “Learning to pause allows growth to catch up with you.”  I have found that no matter what we do in life, there is always the need to stop or pause and let the events we have encountered catch up with us. Reflection is one way we can do this.


Most of us experience many interactions and activities every day.  Some good and some bad.  I believe that we have to opportunity to learn from all our experiences.  The key to doing this is to find time to reflect, to pause, and to process what we have been through.  When we take the time to reflect, it allows us to filter out the distractions and focus on the learning part.  Learning gives us insight into how we might respond when going through the same experience again.


Much of the time, we are in an environment that is influenced by many things that are beyond our control.  It is imperative that we make time and find a place that we can reflect.  How often are you driving down the road and have a great idea cross your mind?  By the time you get to your destination, your mind has been filled with several more things and that original idea is gone forever.  Finding a time and place to reflect allows us to record these thoughts and experiences and use them as a way to grow.


When you intentionally take the time to reflect, go into the reflection time with purpose.  When we go into the reflection period with and expected outcome, the chances of success are much more likely.  Be intentional about documenting what has been learned.  Formulate a follow up activity and construct a framework on what to do with the learned insight.

Make the time, find a place and feel the Power of the Pause.  It just may be the best investment of time that you make today.


Maxwell says there are four I’s you should use to direct your reflection:

Investigation- Ask questions, dig into the situation, find out exactly what happened, both good and bad. By fully investigating the experience you can uncover what went wrong, what went right and what you can learn from it all.

Incubation- Maxwell says that reflection should be like putting your ideas and experiences in a slow cooker to simmer for a while. Don’t just give them a passing thought and move on. Truly mediate on them and see what you can learn.

Illumination- After you investigate and incubate an idea or experience, Maxwell says you need to illuminate the lessons from it. You should find areas you did well at and areas that need improvement. Illumination distinguishes between the two.

Illustration- Use your experiences to tell a story. Write out the lessons you took from it, how it made you feel and what you will do different next time. Maxwell calls this putting meat on the bones of your ideas. Come up with action plans for implementing what you learned.

The law of reflection says that in order to grow we must intentionally learn from past experiences, both failures and successes.


The Achilles’ heel for a lot of leaders: They get a little momentum going, and they celebrate but don’t reflect. Leaders should do more reflection and less celebration. To reflect on their experiences, ask, “What did I learn? What am I learning at this stage? And what am I going to change?”


A-minute-of-thought-is-worth-more-than-a-hour-of-talk-John-Maxwell - Anna Simon RN BSN, HHC

What does it mean to rest our brains?  To STOP. Pause. AND REFLECT!  We rush rush rush through the motions in life.  Work, eat, sleep..etc.  How often do we stop and reflect on what's going on or what happened?

 John Maxwell said, in his book "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth", "Time alone allows people to sort through their experience, put it into perspective, and plan for the future."  Also, he said "If we don't take the time to stop and reflect we can miss the significance..."  This means that by continuing to go through the motion without stopping to reflect on the value of the situations and events that take place you'll never learn from them nor will you gain the thoughtful experience that can bring your further.

 I was asked "What would be the first thing you would recommend in making changes to be healthier and happier?"

 My answer was not to eat healthier, it was not to exercise more or even sleep more.  It was to STOP.  It was to self-reflect and ask yourself questions that you normally don't take time for.  Why are you unhealthy? What in your life makes you stressed? What makes you unhappy? More importantly, What makes you happy? And what do you need to do to make these changes? 

There is a lot of power in these questions.  You are more powerful, much more powerful, than you think or know.  As you learn to spend time with yourself and enjoy it you will gain access to knowledge, potential and inspiration you never thought possible.

 Stop in your day and take time to reflect on your day, on your life, on your week.  Spend time giving gratitude or praying or having a conversation with God.  Spend time asking yourself questions that you may have been avoiding.  Take this step to be true to yourself.


Reflect for Success

Susan Mazza | 16 January 2014 | Personal Leadership

In The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell illuminates the importance of learning to “pause to allow growth to catch up with you”. He refers to this as the Law of Reflection.

There is another habit, however, often masquerading as reflection, that can undermine your success. That habit is processing.

What I mean by “processing” is an intense stream of thoughts that are focused on analyzing why something didn’t work, what you should have done differently, who was right and who was wrong, etc.

From the outside, processing might look like you are reflecting in quiet solitude. Internally, you might experience that the outside world has fallen away while your mind is hard at work. It can feel strangely productive, even though it will rarely produce anything of value, other than to assuage the uncomfortable feelings of lament, guilt, regret, shame or fear for the moment.

You see, there is one significant difference between a mode of reflection and a mode of processing. The ability to recognize the difference can give you the power in any moment to shift your attention, from trying to alter a past you cannot change, to curating insight and wisdom that can contribute to your future success.

It all comes down to the questions you choose to ponder in those opportunities for reflection.



“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result they get better answers.” Anthony Robbins


“Why did…” Questions Trigger Processing

Questions that begin with “why did,” such as “why did this happen?” or “why did they…?,” are perhaps the biggest culprit in stirring our minds to process. “Why did” questions tend to drive us to seek satisfaction in the form of things like validation, being right, and understanding where to place the blame. Alternatively, we assume we must be to blame, so processing becomes like a salve to soothe our shame with our litany of responses to “if only…” and “why didn’t I…”

“Why did” questions are also typically focused on understanding a past we cannot change, as though we could actually fix it just by thinking about it until we understand what went wrong or even who went wrong.

In either case, the outcome will be clarity about what you should have done, conclusions about who you can or can’t trust, including perhaps yourself, and decisions about what you will or won’t do next time that may or may not work out. Chances are this won’t be the last conversation you have with yourself about this either, because when your attention keeps going back to trying to understand a past you cannot change you will never really be satisfied.

What” and “How” Questions Empower Reflection

If you look at John Maxwell’s list of questions for personal awareness all 10 of them begin with the word “what.” He includes questions like: What is my most worthwhile emotion? What is my highest high? What is my lowest low?

“How” questions, such as “how could we help others to be better leaders?,” “how am I growing?,” “how could we make this situation better?,” are also powerful because they keep our attention on the future.

They show us the way to what we can do vs. keeping us focused on what we should have done.

Not all “why” questions are all bad either. Knowing your “why,” for example, as in “why is something so important to you?,” “why does this really matter to them?,” etc., are very useful in triggering constructive reflection.

The outcome of true reflection is insight that helps you to do better and be better in the future. The gifts of reflection come in packages of “aha” moments that leave you inspired and motivated or even simply at peace.

Ultimately the best way to know whether you have been reflecting or processing is to observe your energy on the other end. Are you feeling energized or at peace? Or are you feeling depleted or defeated?

Learn to recognize the difference and not only will you fuel your success now, but you might even change the course for your future.

Chapter 4 – The Law Of Reflection

Learning To Pause Allows Growth To Catch Up With You

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There are many different ways of growing and an infinite number of lessons to be learned in life.

But there are some kinds of growth that come to us only if we are willing to stop, pause, and allow the lesson to catch up with us.

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How reflection can help you grow:

1.Reflection Turns Experience Into Sight

Experience is not the best teacher. Evaluated experience is!

There’s an old joke that experience is a hard teacher because the test is given first and the lesson is given afterward. That’s true, but only if the person takes time to reflect after the experience. Otherwise, you receive the test first and the lesson may never come.

People have innumerable experiences every day, and many learn nothing from them because they never take the time to pause and reflect. That’s why it is so important to pause and let understanding catch up with us.

Instructors notes:

I think people make a big mistake here because they’re so focused on activity, being busy, and rush-rush-rush. The thought of taking time to reflect and evaluate their actions is too overwhelming. They tell themselves that they have no time to stop and reflect because they can’t afford to stop to take away from the activity. Doesn’t more activity get you ahead in life? Hence the problem with the average person…the failure to realize that doing a lot of the same will get you a lot of the same unless you stop, reflect, evaluate, and change your strategy.

2. Everyone Needs A Time And A Place To Pause

I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t benefit from pausing and reflecting. In fact, stopping to reflect is one of the most valuable activities a person can do to grow. It has much greater value to them than motivation or encouragement. Pausing allows them to make sure they are on the right track. After all, if someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed up. He needs to stop, reflect, and change course.

If we don’t take the time to pause and reflect, we can miss the significance of such events. Reflection allows those experiences to move from being like markers to life makers. If we pause to allow growth to catch up with us, it makes our lives better, because we not only better understand the significance of what we’ve experienced, but we can implement changes and course corrections as a result. We are also better equipped to teach others from the wisdom we have gained.


Instructor notes:

I personally take several times a day to reflect but I find it best for me to “reflect on the fly” as I am doing things. I used to be very spontaneous and just go with ideas but found that I was making far too many mistakes. These mistakes actually slowed me down in the long run. Now, I’ve trained myself to reflect as I go even if it takes a little longer because in the long run I find myself way ahead of schedule while doing a better job. I also reflect and evaluate my past performances with my mentors. I also find myself bouncing things off them as I reflect on the fly. At this point in my life it just a habitually pattern of what I do in a day and don’t even think twice about it. I used to do everything on my own and just kept working hard finding myself running a hamster wheel but getting nowhere.

3. Pausing With Intention Expands And Enriches Thinking

Leaders are so action oriented and have so many responsibilities that they are often guilty of moving all the time and neglecting to stop and take time to think. Yet this is one of the most important things a leader can do. A minute of thought is worth more than an hour of talk. I strongly encourage you to find a place to think and to discipline yourself to pause and use it, because it has the potential to change your life. It can help you figure out what’s really important and what isn’t.

4. When You Take Time To Pause, Use Your I’s

Investigation – Pausing means more than just slowing down to smell the roses. It means stopping and really figuring them out.

Incubation – Incubation is taking an experience of life and putting it into the slow cooker of your mind to simmer for a while.

Illumination – These are the “aha” moments in your life, the epiphanies when you experience sudden realization or insight. It’s when the proverbial light-bulb turns on. Few things in life are more rewarding than such moments.


 Illustration – Most good ideas are like skeletons. They provide good structure, but they need meat on their bones. They lack substance, and until they have it, they aren’t that useful. All of us are watcher – of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway – but few are observers. Everyone is looking, not many are seeing.


Page 59

Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they bet better answers.

If your questions are honest, they will lead you to solid convictions. If you ask quality questions, they will help you create a high-quality life.

Instructor notes:

This is concept that you must master, because when you do, life becomes so much easier. It becomes very easy and you become more effective at dealing with people. In the end, that is 100% of what our life revolves around – communication with others. Asking quality questions also makes you more efficient while gathering better information. I would rather spend the time to think of the quality questions I need to ask and work less because I have better information, rather than asking poor questions which directly leads me to working harder because I have poor information, If a person will begin with certainties, he will end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he will end in certainties.

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Questions to help develop your personal awareness:

1. What is my biggest asset?

2. What is my biggest liability?

3. What is my highest high?

4. What is my lowest low?

5. What is my most worthwhile emotion?

6. What is my least worthwhile emotion?

7. What is my best habit?

8. What is my worst habit?

9. What is most fulfilling to me?

10. What do I prize most highly?

What you want to accomplish in life and where you are in the journey will determine what areas you most need to think about today, tailoring the questions to yourself. But the most important thing you must do is write out the questions and write out the answers. Why? Because you will discover that what you think after you write the answer is different from what you thought before you wrote it. Writing helps you to discover what you truly know, think, and believe.

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All of this probably sounds like a lot of steps and a lot of trouble. You’re right; it is. That’s why most people never do it. But it is worth every bit of effort you put into it. The farther you go in life, the more critical it is that you take time to pause and think.

Instructor notes:

Bull’s eye! This slows you down and you can’t afford to slow down right? Wrong! It is more trouble learning from the school of hard knocks than taking the time to stop, reflect, and evaluate so you can avoid the school of hard knocks teachings. I have found from experience that the school of hard knocks isn’t much fun. Especially if you didn’t learn your lesson the first time!

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Never forget that your goal in personal growth is reaching your potential. To do that, you need to keep pausing, keep asking questions, and keep growing every day.