Reflecting Critically: The Art of Looking Back for Individual Contributors

In this article, the author emphasizes the importance of critical reflective practice and challenges common beliefs about reflection and its role in personal growth and professional development. The author introduces a critical reflective routine for individual contributors and provides practical recommendations to make reflection meaningful and actionable.

The article begins by highlighting the significance of looking back at one’s past self and acknowledging change, appreciating growth, and learning from mistakes. The author quotes Søren Kierkegaard, the first existentialist philosopher, to emphasize the value of reflecting on past experiences.The article then explains the concept of critical reflection, which involves bringing unconscious aspects of experience to conscious awareness and challenging one’s takeaways from practical experiences. The author mentions David Kolb’s “Cycle of Learning,” which consists of four stages: Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization, and Active Experimentation. According to Kolb, learning and growth are only possible when all aspects of an experience are analyzed, assessed, and challenged through reflection and experimentation.The article emphasizes that reflection is essential in design, as designers need to be flexible, adapt to changing environments, learn from failures, and constantly question their expertise. However, the author notes that designers often reflect unconsciously and without structure or depth. To address this issue, the author introduces a reflective framework called Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle, which provides guidance for critical reflection.The reflective cycle consists of several steps. First, the situation is described in detail, focusing on the connection between actions and outcomes. Then, the individual’s feelings before, during, and after the experience are explored to understand their motivations and beliefs. Next, the experience is evaluated and analyzed, challenging underlying assumptions and beliefs. Finally, a conclusion is drawn, and a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) is set for future improvement.The article emphasizes the importance of constant reflection and suggests keeping a daily reflective journal to assess progress and focus on different aspects of personal growth. The author also suggests sharing reflections publicly to hold oneself accountable, improve writing and storytelling skills, and connect with like-minded individuals.In conclusion, the article highlights that reflection is an ongoing process that helps individuals become better practitioners by questioning beliefs, asking more questions, and continuously challenging themselves. The author encourages readers to embrace reflection as a means of personal and professional growth.