Got 10 minutes? The Power of Reflection


I started to write my blog today and part way through it I felt like throwing it out the window – it was sooooooo boring! I felt I had said the same things a million times. So instead I’m just talking to you from the heart today – it is something I have wanted to do but have been on high productivity mode for so long, it is hard for me still to slow down.

It is 5 days away from year end. I suspect that I’m not alone in feeling a little ambivalent about everything – both my past year and the year to come. Ambivalence can arise when you don’t spend enough time doing meaningful reflection work. So let’s reflect on the power of reflection. For example, if I took 10 minutes right now to ask myself 4 or 5 questions about the past year and my hopes for the future year, I guarantee I will not feel quite so ambivalent.

I will do that with you in a moment but first let’s think about the same phenomenon happening at the end of a workshop you have given or a meeting you have facilitated. Amazing learning, insights, and connections have occurred and you are just going to let them walk out the door without realizing the incredible depth of the work they’ve just done! That’s why I’m saying take 10 minutes. Take 10 minutes to help them synthesize the most important aspects of the day or meeting. It might be as simple as this:

    1. 1. Each take a moment to recall an activity or discussion point from the meeting. What was that?
    1. 2. Choose one of those activities/discussion points that caught your interest. Share what was exciting about it.
    1. 3. How will this activity or discussion affect your work going forward?
    1. 4. What do you want everyone in the room to know about the follow-up tasks you have to do? (It could be support you want to request, empathy or a “high five” gesture to motivate you to do your tasks.)

So that’s a 10 minute conversation that you can adapt for closing any workshop or meeting. Borrowing from Nike’s slogan, “Just do it!”

As for my own year-end reflection, here are the questions I’m going to answer for myself:

1. What are 7-10 moments/events that rise to the top from 2017?

  • Having our son Gabriel come home to live with us for the last 2 months of the year. He is a great cook and he is teaching me to love food and cooking again.
  • Dancing in the rain and cold in Montreal with our daughter Jessica and 200 other women from around the world.
  • Creating a series of 3 new virtual courses, easy to complex, around facilitating humane and engaging meetings….being astonished that the complex course oversold before any of the other in the series!
  • Celebrating my 40th wedding anniversary in my homeland of Canada and unexpectedly purchasing property in Victoria, B.C. so we can move there sometime in the next 5 years.
  • Celebrating my mother’s 88th birthday at a giant party my brother and sister-in-law organized in Puebla, Mexico.
  • Getting to work with Rangineh Azimzadeh Tosang with an incredible group of parenting support providers over a 6 month period.
  • Being the main project manager for a major house renovation that lasted from start to finish about 9 months!
  • Attending a Vancouver music festival with great friends, Julie and Dan, for four days and nights (had not been to a music festival in 20 or so years!)
  • Getting closer to Lilian Wang and Yvonne Yam and supporting them in their brilliant work as facilitators and change agents.

2. How would I describe the atmosphere or mood of 2017 for me?

There were moments of exhilaration with my work. I didn’t mention it above but I absolutely loved working with a climate change organization as this was one of the key areas on which I want to have an impact. I was astonished a lot – it came from observing a continually changing U.S./World environment. It also came from my own resilience in dealing with a serious foot injury from surgery late in 2016. I can now walk several days in a row for up to 9 miles (14 km). I was astonished that I could dance in the rain and cold for 4 days in a row and build up my strength so much through regular attendance at pilates and spin classes. I’ve also had to combat serious discouragement about how I can have more impact in equity and social justice.

3. What from 2017 do I want to leverage for 2018?

  • I want to leverage the incredible enthusiasm of the international facilitation cohort that we are just starting now. I am more than delighted with the caliber of this cohort and have great hopes in our ability to change the world.
  • I want to leverage the good work I started with one climate change organization and carry it forward to several more. I already have a potential new organization to do this with starting in February.
  • I want to leverage the good relationships I have built in Asia and bring these to China and Japan next year. In particular, I want to honor and deepen my existing competency in and commitment to ToP methods. this will ensure I continue to provide even higher quality ToP training in Asia and in the U.S.
  • I want to leverage the close relationships I have with my daughter and son and continue to stay open to ways that they teach me about healing and connection to the planet.
  • I want to leverage the sense of peace I had when we decided to move back to Canada in the future and use that to apply to my work in the USA and elsewhere while here – allow the peacefulness to pervade everything I do.

4. What and who do I need to engage with in the first quarter of 2018 to ensure a brilliant meaningful balanced year?

  • There are a number of friends and family that I love being with and I want to make sure I schedule ample quality time with them.
  • I want to stay well rested and protect my meditation, yoga and exercise time to stay healthy.
  • I commit to practice the new ways of cooking and eating that our son Gabriel has been teaching me.
  • I will continually strive to ask my closest colleagues, family, friends and clients for support and feedback on how I am doing – with them and as they observe me.

In closing, please use or adapt these questions to provide powerful reflection moments for yourself, loved ones and in situations with colleagues. You can turn an ambivalent, potentially stressful moment into one of transformation and deep meaning. May the beginning of 2018 be powerful and joyful for you.

Barbara MacKay

Barbara loves “everything facilitation”. She thinks BIG! She loves working with other facilitators around the globe to create transformational results for client groups. She loves teaching others how to do that. She loves presenting at global facilitator conferences. She loves certifying new professional facilitators. If you also love what process facilitation can do for the world, connect with her – virtually or in person. She believes facilitation processes, used well, will provide the roadmap to a more just and sustainable world.


  1. Claudette on August 24, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    It works quite well for me

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