Blog: Success Starts with Self-Reflection


I was recently reading a book by Thomas Merton, titled A Thomas Merton Reader. Within the chapters of this reflective book, I found a theme — success lies within the realm of reflection.

So, when you keep hearing this message lightly tapping you on the shoulder, I guess you have to stop and reflect. So I did. Within a few moments of quiet contemplation, a few things struck me.  The silence was at first very loud, I had to get used to it. However, once the noise within my head stopped, I began to wander off on different trains of thought, which was extremely productive.

I began to think there might be something to this “reflection” stuff, so I dug a little deeper.

I found some writings by Jack Mezirow, a professor of sociology at Columbia University. He points out that, “a defining condition of being human is that we have to understand the meaning of our experience.”

This one line gave me serious pause. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks — understanding is the key.

Malcolm Gladwell reinforced the 10,000-hour rule (10,000 hours is how long it takes to become an expert at anything) in his book, Outliers. At the heart of his message was that you have to thoroughly understand the topic or the subject before you can master it.

Becoming an expert in one’s self requires a certain amount of humility. It’s only with a humble heart and mind that we can progress into an expert understanding of who we really are, or what makes us tick.

As a salesman, this sense of self eventually links back to professional selling. In selling, there are so many components at play, but if you are not a self-aware person then you’ll never project the confidence required to build trust and close deals.

The real rainmakers in sales are the ones who are willing to look themselves in the mirror and say, “I could do better at this,” identify their discrepancies, and set a path to fix them.

Developing the skill of internal reflection and honestly assessing one’s performance — no matter the task — is rapidly becoming a required skill in our changing workforce. Those who are able to master it are the ones who we now call the new “self-made” success stories.

It is those that have mastered the art of internal reflection and critique that reach that ultimate success, whatever it may look like.

Timothy Laube, of Clarkston, is general manager of Pittsburgh-based Kroff Chemical. He works from the company’s Detroit office, and has more than 20 years of experience in sales and business. 

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