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Alexandra Reese's Growth Guide

Timely leadership insights to accelerate your growth & impact


Happy holidays! Whether you’re celebrating a holiday or not, I hope you enjoy a slower pace at work this week and next. It’s a beautiful opportunity to focus your time and energy on you and those you love. 

And it’s in that spirit that I bring you today’s Growth Guide in which I share my favorite approach to the year-end self-reflection. 


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Self-reflection is the first and most important step in creating your self-leadership development plan, which is one of the three things I recommend you do at the end of the year to set you and your organization up for a standout 2023 (see the 10th edition of the Growth Guide for a rundown of all three things).

By dedicating time to reflect on the past year before you jump into planning for the next, you give yourself the gift of true insight. Insight into who you are, what lights you up, how you show-up, and where your most valuable growth opportunities lie. 

The brutal truth is that 92% of people fail to achieve their development goals.

It’s not because they’re lazy or they don’t make a good faith effort. It’s because they don’t have the insight needed to set the right goals for them. 

You may be part of the 92% if… 

You’re not deeply inspired by your goals. This can happen when you set goals based on what you think you should want. When your goals do not reflect what truly matters to you, they will not motivate you to do the hard work required to make change that sticks. The most successful, happy people I know bucked status quo definitions of success and set goals utterly unique to them.

Your goals are vague. When you lack the insight to set specific, measurable, and achievable goals, you will struggle to create a meaningful action plan. An incremental improvement and a transformational leap necessitate very different action plans; it’s important to know what you want to achieve, so you can calibrate your efforts accordingly.

Your action plan reflects others’ pathways to success. Your strengths, weaknesses, and current context are entirely unique to you. So, even if you share the same goal as someone else, you will likely take different paths to achieve your goal. While it can be valuable to gather inspiration from those who have achieved your goals already, don’t let their path override yours.

To join the 8% that achieve their goals, dedicate time to reflect on 2022. This is a non-negotiable. 

There are four types of insights you want to generate through this reflection:

To generate meaningful, actionable insights, don’t start with abstract questions like “what is my purpose?” If you don’t already have clarity on these abstractions, you’re unlikely to find meaningful answers starting here. Through my work as a coach, I’ve found that starting big abstract questions tend to result in vague cliche answers because you’re asking your brain to do too much processing and reasoning at once.

Effective reflection requires a thoughtful process to guide you from concrete moments to abstract insights.


Step 1: Identify concrete meaningful moments

Make a list of meaningful moments (events, happenings, etc.) in four categories:

1. Wins: Celebrate your success and build your confidence by listing all of your wins in 2022. Two tips: (1) Don’t just include major accomplishments, also include feel-good moments; and (2) Don’t just include professional wins, also include those from other facets of your life. You can use iPEC's wheel of life diagram below as a framework for the eight facets of life. 

2. Surprises: Surface cognitive biases by listing moments that derailed your expectations, both in positive and painful ways. Beneath most unmet expectations are false assumptions that reflect errors in logic and reason. As noted by James Bailey and Scheherazade Rehman in their research on self-reflection, “When we are mistaken, we are surprised — and mistakes, lapses in judgements, and wrongful assumptions are worth our reflection.”

3. Frustrations: Frustration arises when people and situations get in the way of things that matter deeply, like values and goals. So surface what matters to you by listing your frustrations. 

4. Failures: Identify growth opportunities by listing your failures. 

Step 2: Learn from your meaningful moments

Ask yourself the following reflection questions about each event category (note, you do not need to ask yourself all questions; pick the ones that resonate most with you!):


  1. Which moments gave you the greatest sense of purpose or most lit you up?
  2. Which moments had the greatest impact on others?
  3. What other cross-cutting themes emerge, as you reflect on your wins?


  1. Which surprises caused you or others the most stress, pain, or discomfort? Which created the most joy or delight?
  2. What expectations or assumptions did you or others make that led to these surprises?
  3. Which expectations or assumptions served you well and led to positive outcomes? Which did not and caused you pain?


  1. What types of things (people, situations, etc.) created the most frustration and why?
  2. What can you learn about what I value from this list?
  3. What can you learn about how you manage frustrations?


  1. Which failures hurt the most and why?
  2. What can you learn about how you manage failure?

Step 3: Generate insights

Use the template below to generate insights from the lists you made in steps 1 and 2. Use the prompts that work for you and skip those that do not.


Join the 8% of people who set and achieve their goals is possible. And it starts with generating the right insights to guide goal setting and action planning. I hope you enjoy this process! In next week’s Growth Guide, I’ll share how to turn these insights into meaningful goals and actions. 


Opportunities to Partner

Your Leadership Mindset Blueprint: What could you achieve if you felt engaged, motivated, and fulfilled--even when times are tough? How would you show-up differently for yourself, your team, and those you love if you felt calm, confident, and in control of your actions and reactions? How would it feel to navigate life with the support of someone who only has your best interests at heart, who listens without judgment, and who supports you in creating the life and legacy of your dreams? This life is possible! And it starts by shifting your mindset. This 4-hour experience will empower you to do just that with dramatic results. Read more and sign-up here.

Growth Mastermind: You’re ready to transform your life, organization, and legacy while building lifelong relationships with other likeminded leaders. The Growth Mastermind integrates coaching, strategic advisory, and peer-to-peer learning to push the bounds of your leadership potential and impact. This unique developmental experience will bring together small groups of four to six growth-minded leaders who are in similar stages of their leadership journeys. Read more and sign-up here.

One-on-one and Team Coaching: You're ready to improve your life, leadership, and impact. As your coach, I'll work with you (and your leadership team, if desired) to clarify your vision and purpose, set bold goals, build an actionable strategy, and cultivate the mindset, beliefs, and behaviors necessary to achieve sustainable results without pain and stress. 

Growth Advisory: You've been working diligently to grow your organization, but have yet to achieve sustainable results. Or perhaps you've done exceptionally well and are ready to take things to a new level. I can help you hone a compelling vision and strategy, then execute with confidence, ease, and joy. 


Links to Past Editions

Here are links to the first 11 editions:

Dec 15: Nine proven strategies to eliminate stress

Dec 1: Three things you can do now to boost success in 2023

Nov 17Eight signs you've got a feedback problem & how to fix it!

Nov 10: Make performance management your unfair advantage

Oct: 1/ The four elements of a high-performing leadership team, 2/ Cultivate an empowered leadership mindset

Sep: 1/ Replan for Q4, 2/ Jumpstart growth through self-awareness, 3/ Three Qs to save you BIG in your next strategy process 

Aug: 1/ Adapt your strategy process, 2/ Support your mid-level managers, 3/ Halt your mid-career crisis

Jul: 1/ Win with values, 2/ How to get hybrid work right, 3/ Vacation like a European

Jun: 1/ The mid-year review, 2/ Sharpen your creative skills, 3/ Win through failure

May: 1/ Prepare for downturns; 2/ Better, faster decisions; 3/ Embrace difference to improve performance

Apr: 1/ The Q1 review, 2/ Prime yourself for success, 3/ Focus your innovation investments for impact


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