Reflection is a powerful thing and something I make time for each and every day. Reflection is an activity that ensures we take the time to acknowledge our progress, think deeply about what we continue to learn though life, and posture ourselves for the next steps in this wonderful adventure we call life. Reflection shouldn’t focus merely on our individual adventure, for there is no such thing. In this interconnected world, each individual life is influenced by more and more of our fellow human beings. Some influence our lives directly and some do so indirectly. Some do so deliberately and some by happenstance. And, some are positive influences, some benign, and still some are negative.

The New Year has conditioned many of us to consider¬†the past, connect with the present, and commit to the future on an annual basis. I use the word connect on purpose because the present most certainly connects the past with the future, and to acknowledge the connective nature between our life and the lives of others…we are all connected. The year I decided to make the theme of my reflection that of roles. I chose to evaluate my life through three very different lenses. The lenses of Because, With, and Despite. On the surface you may see little more than two prepositions and a conjunction. You may also see distinct differences between the relative cause and effect of each.

To illustrate the differences between each of these lenses, I offer three variations of a statement…

  1. We accomplished our goal with you on the team
  2. We accomplished our goal because you are on the team
  3. We accomplished our goal despite you being on our team

In each instance, the outcome was the same – we accomplished our goal. The difference is the perception of our individual contribution to the outcome. I am certain that many good things in life that I have benefited from were just good fortune or were because of a result of others carrying more than their fair share of my weight. I may not have directly contributed to the outcome nor did I hinder the cause. They happened with me on the team. There are other life experiences that wouldn’t have happened without my presence and direct contributions. They happened in part because¬†I was on the team. And still there were things that happened because others were able to compensate for my missteps. They happened despite my ‘contributions.’

Too many of us take credit for the good fortune that happens in our presence. Not all of us take responsibility for the unfortunate outcomes to which we directly contribute. And the modest may overlook the fact that certain things just wouldn’t have happened if it not for them. Clearly, each of these statements could be flipped upside down and I will leave that for you to ponder. My hope is that future reflection will give us all additional reason to believe more positive things are happening because of us – because of you!

  • Are your children developing into adulthood because of, with, or despite you being their parent?
  • Is the team you are leading winning because of, with, or despite your leadership?
  • Are you the person you are because of, with, or despite your inner circle?