Almost a decade ago, I treated my family to a holiday meal at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. I remember wanting the dinner to be special and memorable. I desired to reflect on the past year with my family and learn how I could be a better husband and dad. My goal was to hear what was on their hearts and minds. I’d been inspired by Patrick Morley’s Man in the Mirrorand was exposed to Plato’s philosophy, “the life which is unexamined is not worth living.”
Taking a cue from Plato, I moved our normal dinner conversation to a deeper level and began asking them what they remembered about the past year. What were their successes and challenges? What did they learn and how will they change? What did they want to accomplish in the next year?
It was quiet at first. . .. I got blank stares. I couldn’t imagine what was going through the minds of my wife, Carla, 16-year-old daughter, Caroline and 14-year-old son, Benton. But, my family soon caught on and engaged in the discussion. We all found it enlightening to hear each other’s thoughts, successes, failures, and dreams. So much so, that we’ve made the dinner and discussion an annual event called Ruth’s Christmas; it’s become our favorite family tradition.
Before our annual holiday dinners, I make it a practice to send everyone a list of questions as a way to prime the discussion pump. The topics and questions varied slightly over the years but in essence remained the same. Here are the ones I sent this year:
Over the years, we’ve laughed and cried during our time of reflection. We understand that insights come from reflecting on experiences and the ideas help us change and grow. And, we’ve learned that experience is indeed the best teacher and that the examined life is worth living. Lastly, we invest time looking back to look forward. We envision the future. We share our hopes and dreams.
How about you? Have you taken a moment to slow down and inventory all that you experienced this year? Do you have someone to share your thoughts and dreams? I recommend that you call timeout, reflect and use the above questions to shape your thoughts and learn about others. If you do, you’ll grow and become a reflective leader.
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