An inscription was carved over the door to the temple of Delphi twenty-four hundred years ago: Know thyself.
It’s good advice for living a rich, meaningful life. And it’s a great tip for improving yourself personally and professionally so you can achieve your full potential. Here’s my rule of thumb: To grow yourself, you must first know yourself.
That’s what the fourth area of the Potential Matrix, the reflecting quadrant, is all about. In my new book, The Potential Principle, I show how to use this area and the others—the performing quadrant, the thinking quadrant, and the learning quadrant—to make your best even better. This final quadrant works in conjunction with the others, providing clarity and deeper understanding of yourself so you can move forward in becoming the person you really want to be.
When you spend time reflecting, you’re hoping for epiphanies—sudden and striking realizations or breakthroughs in your life. When an epiphany occurs, something previously obscure becomes clear, often to powerful effect. An epiphany can lead to great gains, helping you understand how you feel about yourself and your circumstances, and what you can do to improve yourself.
Your inner world informs your outer world. Looking inward to discern motivations, hopes, fears, and dreams offers some of the greatest leverage to growing in every area of your life. Ultimately, good reflection leads to action, benefiting both your inner and your outer world.
Reflection can be challenging for many, so how do you incorporate introspection into your game plan for becoming the best you can be? I share lots of ideas in the book. Here’s one piece of advice:
Stop and make space to reflect.
Reflection goes deeper than thinking. Thinking is about using information, while reflection is more about gaining insight. You can think while you’re doing other things, like exercising or washing the dishes. But for true introspection, you need to relax and be still.
When you think, you contemplate questions and challenges, and open yourself to understanding more about your life, even those things you might rather avoid. You think about, but you reflect upon.
The most challenging thing about introspection is to appreciate its value and make time for it. But when you look at the great women and men of history, they were people of depth who often had rich inner lives that came out of deep thinking and reflection.
As you strive toward your true potential at work and at home, take a break periodically from performing, thinking, and learning. Spend some time reflecting. You’ll be surprised at the insights you gain.
Pre-order The Potential Principle at potentialprinciple.com.
New York Times bestselling author Mark Sanborn’s new book The Potential Principle: A Proven System for Closing the Gap Between How Good You Are and How Good You Could Be is scheduled to release September 5, 2017 and provides a map and method for becoming better than best. By identifying the four key areas in which growth is possible—thinking, performing, learning, and reflecting—and applying the four tools of improvement in those areas—disrupt, refocus, engage, and expand— Sanborn reveals the secret for achieving breakthrough improvement in any area of life. Mark is president of Sanborn and Associates Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. He is a noted authority and an in-demand speaker on leadership, customer service, and extraordinary performance.