A quotation sometimes attributed to Dale Carnegie is “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” Hearing it often produces a chuckle or grin, but if we replace the words “worried about” with “created” it takes on a whole new meaning.
When we reflect on how we got into what we perceive as today’s messes or triumphs, we can see the dots of our yesterdays getting linked. Connecting the dots of triumph is much more fun than connecting those of messes, of course, but in either case, the important piece is how we reflect on and value the dots we created, and where the lines connecting them could have been drawn differently.
Reflection is the line between the dots. Reflection is a commitment to see, understand and admit where we went right or wrong in our yesterdays, and is an important step we can take today to invite the tomorrow we desire.
Reflection can show us the missed opportunities for listening with full attentiveness to those who needed us. It can show us where we can still create an opportunity to offer long-overdue gratitude or apologies to others because we were dismissive or too self-involved at the time to notice our behavior. Reflection can show us where we disregarded our own intuition or better judgment telling us what to do – or not do – and now we’re in a jam.
The dots we reflect on today were created yesterday. Those of tomorrow are being created today. Being mindful of the lines in between is the pathway to better dots.