Simon Sinek on How Reflection Informs Personal Growth

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In Chapter 7 of 16 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, author and public speaker Simon Sinek answers “What Role Has Reflection Played in Shaping Your Personal Growth?” Sinek notes the importance of looking internally at his past actions and decisions and evaluating his performance. Using the example of sales training, Sinek notes how the observer often learns the most. He applies this to his life to inform his approach to making more optimal future choices and avoiding pitfalls.

Simon Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. His goal is to “inspire people to do the things that inspire them” and help others find fulfillment in their work. Sinek is the author of “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”. He works regularly with the United States Military, United States Congress, and many organizations, agencies and entrepreneurs.

Sinek is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and an adjunct staff member at the think tank RAND Corporation. Sinek earned a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Brandeis University.

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Erik Michielsen: What role has reflection played in shaping your personal growth?

Simon Sinek: The ability to look at one’s self critically. To say to one’s self, you were good in that situation. You weren’t good in that situation. You could’ve been better in that situation. Not to be overly critical meaning you’re always at fault if something goes badly or not be so filled with hubris that you think everything you did was fine and it’s always the other person, but to be able to sort of separate yourself to look at the situation from a—as if you were the third party evaluating it. You know, when they do sales training those—you know, it’s always three people, one who pretends to be the salesman, one who pretends to be the customer and one who observes. And then they all take turns, you know, and the one who does the learning is the observer. So the question is, can you be your own observer, like can you replay a situation? And so self-reflection has been huge for me and I’ve been huge into it for many, many years. The ability to say, okay, I can take some responsibility for the outcome of that, good or bad. And I can learn to do that again, or can I learn to spot those situations and avoid them in the future?


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