Making time for reflection

“Hansei” is the Japanese word for reflection. One of my UMHS colleagues, Dr. Jack Billi, told me he’s impressed that I am writing a blog and sees it as an example of Hansei. He says as leaders we don’t take enough time to reflect. I agree.

A typical day for me is running from one meeting to the next, driving back and forth from my office to the hospital campus, and squeezing in email when and where I can. Evenings are more email and prepping for the next day’s meetings.

The practice of writing a blog has indeed caused me to be more thoughtful about a range of topics. I find myself observing things differently. I reached out to one of my industry colleagues, Anthony Guerra, Editor-in-Chief of, for advice when I first considered writing a blog earlier this year. He encouraged me to do so. He told me that through the practice of writing a blog I’d start looking at things differently, observing things in new ways. He was right.

I have a running list of blog topics that I add to throughout the week as I’m in different situations. They are in a sense all reflections. The discipline of writing a weekly post means I sit down once a week and reflect on something of importance.

There are many ways we reflect in our work as leaders. “Lessons learned” sessions after a big project are a form of reflection – what did we do well, what could we do better next time. The practice my IT department has of doing an ESIR (Enterprise Service Incident Review) after a major incident is another form – what happened, what was the impact, what was the root cause, and what corrective actions do we need to take to prevent re-occurrence. PDCA (plan, do, check, act) in lean speak involves another form of reflection. The “check” step is reviewing results of the improvement – how did it go and what would you do differently next time before making adjustments in the “act” step.

There are many ways we reflect in our personal lives. The practice of journal writing is one of those. I’ve had periods in my life where I regularly wrote in a journal – it helped me process difficult situations and think through changes I wanted to make. Stepping back and considering your long term goals and how well you are meeting them is another form of reflection.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving – that American holiday where we pause and give thanks amidst a lot of turkey and football. Perhaps it can also be a day where you carve out some time to reflect. Think about what’s important to you – family relationships, friendships, involvement in your community, professional work and career, or long term goals. Whatever it is, stop and make the time. You might also try to add the practice of reflection to your daily or weekly routine.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


4 thoughts on “Making time for reflection

  1. Jeanne Kin on said:

    Great post Sue! Thanks for highlighting this critical aspect of both personal development and organizational learning. Jeanne

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