The Art of Reflection: Review – Reflect – Act

French impressionist Claude Monet is known by his amazing brush strokes to create such vibrant works, such as the Water Lilies (right) from his home. Yet, many may not have known that he had eye problems in the form of cataracts that prevented clear eyesight when creating his best works of art.

In battling the possibility of blindness that might prevent him from painting, he used eye drops, various glasses, and multiple surgeries to aide him in keeping what eyesight he could to continue with his passion for painting. By having this insight on his issues with eyesight, the quote below provides even more meaning to his talent, hard work, and a leadership moment:

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

Claude Monet

As leaders, we need to keep a mindset in the importance of reflection, and not just for ourselves but in creating these opportunities for others.

Too often, in our efforts to respond to data, we tend to move to action steps too quickly. Instead, it’s important for leaders to work from a data-informed approach of:


If we are afforded time, allowing the opportunity to reflect is crucial.  That step is often missed, rushed, or not given the opportunity to be part of the change process.  Reflection is not natural, it take effort and can be facilitated through questions, time, literal space (to get away from others or distractions), and dialogue. 

The “Review-Reflect-Act” process isn’t linear, it’s cyclical.  Through an iterative process, it’s important to build in overt practices that allow a team to Review and Reflect before and after the Act steps have been implemented; it’s not a “one-and-done” model. 

As you continue to lead work in the continuous improvement cycle with your building or school teams, reflect on the planning with these questions:

  • How can you build a system of Review-Reflect-Act in your own practices as well as with your leadership teams?
  • What strategies can be incorporated in your work to allow team members to reflect individually, with others, and as a team?
  • How can insights from the review process be facilitated in the development of an action plan?

Towards the end of Monet’s life, his eyesight was so bad that he was unable to see the full color spectrum. To continue his art, he memorized the locations of the different colors of paint on his palette to create work, such as The House among the Roses (left). Talk about commitment to his passion!

Make sure that as you continue in leading work with a data-informed approach to review information and set course, take time to create an environment for reflection to take place.


  1. Dumbledore to Harry Potter:

    “Laitnetop ruoyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi”

    Reversing the inscription and rearranging the spaces produces:

    I show not your face but your potential.

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