In our careers, we don’t always achieve everything that we would like to achieve. We may not secure a promotion, win an award, gain a payrise or attain our outcome objectives.
But life isn’t a game of hopscotch where you have to follow the rules to get from 1 to 10. Does it matter if the stone you throw bounces, slides or rolls into your target square instead of landing cleanly? Is it enough to be touching the line rather than being dead centre? Can you be creative in how you hop across the board? What if you wobble when collecting your pebble – or don’t complete the entire sequence? Should there always be only one winner? What if you decide to swerve towards a new destination?
Of course, sometimes things work out exactly as planned, and our efforts pay off. And we should celebrate those achievements. Success leads to success. In career terms, “winners” benefit subsequently from the opportunities that success brings and in turn improve their future advancement.
Yet the fast track that commonly rewards early or easy achievement, ignores the value that lies in the achieving (to paraphrase Einstein).
We need to acknowledge the learning that is gained on the slow track, or from the missteps and meanderings that add richness to our experiences and career encounters.
In terms of professional practice, reflection connects practical experience and insight. This approach supports sustainable career development.
We can build on achievements – through reviewing what we’ve done – reflecting on our actions, what we’ve learned and where there is scope for improvement.
When we consider not only where we want to end up, but how we intend to get there, we use reflection to identify good practices and prepare to take appropriate action.
Adding in a middle stage of reflexive thinking, we focus on ‘the achieving’. This reflection in action – being aware of what we are doing – allows for agility and adaptation. It recognises that destinations may change, that alternative trajectories may appear, that we’ve hopped off on the wrong foot.
Reflection allows for achievement to be measured in ways other than an absolute result. It encourages enjoyment of achieving – and recognition of the benefits we acquire along the way. Through reflective practice we are able to take a ‘what works’ approach, and realise that we – and our achievements – are more than good enough.