Reflection Deficit Disorder?


Reflection in water with a quote from Margaret WheatleyLast year, in an effort to be more reflective about what I am learning and how I am growing, I committed to 52 weekly wisdom posts on LinkedIn. Doing so made a huge difference in what I remember from all the webinars I’ve attended as a participant or facilitated myself. Intentional reflection has helped me imbed my learning.

I continue this practice this year, attempting to connect my learning for the week to a single word. So far, it’s been going smoothly.

Reflection Deficit Disorder

I heard the subheading term several years ago from Tony Wasley (former Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife). He spoke the term at a committee meeting during a national conference and it really stuck with me. I know I have suffered from this “disorder” and as I look around the field of conservation, it seems widespread.

People go from meeting to meeting without pausing to reflect. What did I hear or learn from the last meeting? What does this mean for my work? What is the next step that I can take with this information?

What happens is that we end up in information overload and rarely actually act. Upon deep reflection, sometimes the conclusion is that I don’t have to take action. Other times, the next action might be very small and I can do it now or quickly schedule the task. If the next action is bigger, I might brainstorm so I can decide on the next best move.

Simply put, if we aren’t reflecting, we are running on auto-pilot, and likely reactionary rather than responsive.

Overcoming the “disorder”

You don’t have to be as elaborate as I’ve been in committing to writing my reflections each week. There are some simpler ways.

  • Take 10 minutes at the end of every meeting and major encounter to journal what it means for you and if there are any actions required.
  • As you are taking notes, leave a space on the left or write your notes to insert reflections and/or curiosity questions.
  • Insert pauses into meetings and ask people to reflect on what they heard. I use in most of my workshops and frequently ask reflection questions.
  • Set aside weekly time on your calendar, at least an hour or two, to reflect.
  • Consider setting some intention for each week and then check in and grade yourself on how well you kept your intention. Note what might have derailed it. Eventually, you might find a pattern.
  • Set a meeting time with colleagues where your goal is a reflection and sensing into what is happening around you and the team. What are people feeling, thinking, and hearing regarding the work?
  • Join a group, outside of your workplace, where reflection is happening. I participate in the Center for Purposeful Leadership’s Hearth and Essential Conversations. I invite you to join me there.
  • Read a book and create a 1-page summary or notecards with key learnings or tools.

What would you add?

My Reflections

Below is a list of words (with links) that have been a part of my reflective practice so far this year. Links are provided to the post if you want to read more.

Anchored: This is my word of the year. In this reflection, I talk about Anavah (my company name) and the Immunity to Change process.

Power: This post is focused on some learning from Lily Zheng, author of DEI Deconstructed.

Edge: Here I talk about the transformation happening at the edge of our being. I also talk about crossroads and being open to the truths of others.

Sacred: This one gets at a simple question – what if everyone and everything were sacred?

Fatigue: Here I talk about general exhaustion, but also about survey fatigue and sharing fatigue.

Acknowledgment: A concept that is so important to reality. We need to acknowledge feelings, pain, and our parts of the mess.

Relation: This one celebrates some people around me and why the relationship is so important.

Becoming: Have you ever thought about who you are becoming?

Transition: This is about some movements I see regarding well-being, action/inaction, and mechanistic to humanistic workplaces.

Purpose: I reflect on my purpose to connect people to themselves, others, and Earth.


Reflection is a part of the learning process. I use this learning loop below. If you are only doing the first two steps, the experience and understanding, and skipping reflection and decision, what are you really learning?

Learning Loop: Experience, Understanding, Reflection, Decision

When planning your next meeting, consider walking your agenda through this loop. Add time for reflection and decision (next action), so that people can walk away knowing exactly what to do with the information they just received.

What is your process for reflection? Feel free to share.

Note: I’m not sure where the term originated, but upon Google search, this article came up from 2013.

Written by Michelle Doerr

©anavahconsultingllc 2023

Tags: #Reflection #reflective
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