This article discusses using reflection as a critical thinking process to create ‘meaning’ from our experiences, ‘meaning’ which can then be applied when facing new challenges.


For many people, starting something new can cause fear and discomfort. Author Kate Whalen says that starting something new can be confronting because it requires us to bear the discomfort of being a beginner and necessitates experiential learning. She said Covid-19 catapulted our society—on a massive scale—into the online environment; an experience for which many people were not prepared. Covid-19 forced many leaders to face new challenges. Whalen argues that instead of talking about turning learning into 'experience', we talk about turning experience into learning, a process that requires critical thinking through reflection. She says people who get the most from their learning can reflect on past experiences. Whalen suggests that when leaders learn from new experiences, leaders also need 'scaffolding'—a term Whalen describes as support that helps people gain independence and mastery. Whalen's article lists some tips to help leaders learn through reflection—a process which should help leaders achieve conscious competence.