Reflection is an introspective, iterative process that transforms your self-knowledge: how and what you think.

Reflection is an opportunity to slow down and consciously contemplate. You need to give your mind time to think through things and digest information. How will you know if you are headed in the right direction if you never stop to think?

Picture this: the perfect start to a creative project

The initial experience of doing creative work and leading others to deliver great projects and initiatives; consider it akin to a walk on the beach. Picture this; the sun is shining. The water is sparking and fresh. The air is clear and crisp. You bound in and out of the ocean, submerging yourself in the water and then emerging to skip or walk along the sand. Life is good. The creative work starts to flow. And the sand under your feet is golden and smooth, like a luscious natural carpet.

Then; pebbles.

After a while, though, the sand becomes a bit harder to walk on. As your creative project gets further along it’s unique path, pebbles emerge underfoot. The sand just isn’t as smooth as it was when you first started out. In fact, the pebbles are distracting, and making it harder to enjoy the serendipity of creation. I like to think of these pebbles as gem stones in the making.

Those pebbles are of our own creation. And they are a natural part of the creative process. They form in the way that any natural stone forms – through heat and pressure. The pebbles are there to slow you down and make you uncomfortable. Don’t fret – its part of the initiation into the process of creative and personal growth. The pebbles are signalling it’s time to slow down. To reflect. They’re telling you that you’re moving through Learning Ground.

But they will remain pebbles until the initiate works their own magic on them. That means it’s entirely up to you as to what these pebbles turn into gems. But if you’re willing to do the reflection, processing and integration that comes as part of the journey, they can swiftly change into stones of beauty and value.

Finding meaning in your experiences

The art of reflective practice can work well if you want to reflect on your own creative work, or if you’re a leader of creative people. Reflective practice can be applied in many contexts such as:

  • Creative practice – the doing of a piece of work as an individual or as a team
  • Creative direction – bringing a creative concept to life through others
  • Leading people: how have you grown the creative capability of others?
  • Integration of personal values and creative work – how did you work on something that was really meaningful to you and what came up when you did.

“Reflection is a deeper form of learning that allows us to retain every aspect of any experience, be it personal or professional — why something took place, what the impact was, whether it should happen again — as opposed to just remembering that it happened. It’s about tapping into every aspect of the experience, clarifying our thinking, and honing in on what really matters to us.”

–  Geil Browning, Ph.D.

Pebbles into gems: what is reflective practice?

 Creative work is, in the best sense of the word, about setting an intention and embarking on a journey to see bring that intention into being. Things don’t always go to plan though – which is why reflection is such a big part of our learning. A regular, self-led reflective practice helps us to get the most out of those learnings when they come up. To sit with the experience, to understand the learnings, to see how they can help you grow as a creative practitioner and leader. The richness comes from what happens when you get to know yourself better, when you observe how you respond to certain triggers, to stimulation, to setbacks, to challenges and thinking.

Reflection is an iterative process of analysis, composed of a few essential stages. Working through each of these stages will help guide you towards greater understanding and insight. That reflection then allows us become wiser as we apply those learnings, insights increased knowledge of ourselves in new contexts.

Questions to ask when pebbles start to appear

Gemstones can absolutely be transformed from the pebbles that appear underfoot throughout your creative journey. But you have to put in the work to understand what they are, and what they mean.

These could be questions such as:

  • What’s the situation?
  • What’s my sense of my pebbles are turning up?
  • When did I start noticing them?
  • How bit are the pebbles and how uncomfortable are they?
  • What are the possible reasons why things are getting rocky – and what’s my contribution to that?
  • How am I feeling about everything?
  • What are 5 things I could do to address the pebbles?
  • What are some things that the pebbles might be indicating?
  • Having implemented some adjustments, am I getting back to smooth sand – and have I gained a gemstone in the process?
  • With new gemstones in my pocket, what does the return to a smooth, sandy beach look like – and how am I richer for it?
  • How does this relate to my larger creative and leadership goals?

All the best with your reflective practice – I hope you find it as valuable as I do!

Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice. – Anonymous

Download my free workbook on the Art of Reflective Practice!

‘The Art of Reflective Practice’ is part of my Mindful Creativity Toolkit. It includes:

  • Handy info on the benefits and rewards of building a reflective practice
  • points on how a reflective practice can make you a better creative practitioner and / or leader
  • a template to guide you through the process of experiencing, reflecting, thinking and planning
  • Guidance on how to to find meaning in your experiences, to enrich your reflective practice.

Download this great resource now, and enrich your creative journey through powerful practice of mindful reflection.

You’ll also receive my fortnightly Mindful Creativity emails. And, each month, I’m releasing another part of the Mindful Creativity Toolkit – so you’ll also get that delivered to your inbox for free.

Download your Art of Reflective Practice workbook

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About Jordan

Thanks for visiting my website! My name’s Jordan – I’m an abstract painter, writer and digital producer. I’m passionate about all aspects of creativity and I incorporates the practice of mindfulness into many of my programmes. I also lead creative teams and over the last fifteen years I’ve led, coached and developed creative professionals across the Asia Pacific region.