Every six weeks, I set objectives to work on for the business. I create a vision for the period, line out SMART goals, and add in some meta questions to consider over the period (like how to practice a specific strength.) At the bottom of the document is a section I complete at the end of the cycle, named “Close Out.”

Close Out is a self debrief where I answer questions about what worked, what didn’t, patterns, and pain points. It’s where past John meets future John to close the circle on our ambition.

Invariably, something changes after that debrief. The objectives have passed, successful or not, but their full benefit isn’t realized until I debrief them.

To give you an example, let’s say that you set a goal to hire a new salesperson in the next 6 weeks. If you’re successful, your business capabilities grow. If you’re not, they don’t.

But in both cases, there is an opportunity for meta level growth that will pass unrealized unless you reflect on what happened.

If you’re successful, you might reflect and realize that a specific hiring pool worked really well or that you wasted time during the process by initially messing up the job description.

If you’re unsuccessful, you might reflect and realize that you didn’t do a good enough job getting the word out to potential candidates, but your hiring process was sound and you should do that every time.

Despite objective success or failure, there’s always an opportunity for growth that is only realized if you pause, think critically about the events, and identify changes to apply next time.

Featured image is the phoenix from the 12th-century Aberdeen Bestiary. Most of us don’t know the full story of the phoenix. After it self-immolates, the reborn version of itself puts its ashes into a wax and myrrh egg and flies the egg to the temple of the sun god in Heliopolis where it inters it with its predecessors. In this way, past (ashes) are always a kernel for the future (egg) in the present (temple of the sun god.) Used under public domain.