Personal After Action Reviews – Parent and Child Editions

In a recent Facebook post made by a old friend, John Stulak, (old as is long-time, not age-wise). John stated that he was 16,443 days old and that he was awakened at 3am with this thought:

The day is the natural cycle of our lives. The cycle of light and dark, being awake and sleep, has more significance than the cycle of the seasons. The day is what counts. Each day is a complete unit in itself. At the end of each day I can look back and take stock. How have I been? What have I learned? What can I be grateful for? I can hold a day’s experience in my mind quite easily. Trying to go back and take stock of a whole year is much harder. Numerous incidents and discoveries are inevitably forgotten. I also find it far more meaningful to think that I have lived through over 16,000 days this life, rather than 45 years.

imageHis post reminded to get back in the habit of doing a personal AAR (after action review) each day. In a ten-year journal given to me by my wife a few years ago, I record the answers to the following questions:

  1. What did I hope to do today?
  2. What went well? Why did that go well?
  3. What went wrong today? Why did it go wrong?
  4. What am I going to do different tomorrow?

I can’t tell you how dramatic the improvement is over time. Consulting guru, Alan Weiss calls this change The 1% Solution, improve by one percent and in 70 days you are twice as good.

About six months ago, my genius wife, Christine, developed a similar tool with our five-year old son, Sean. When putting him to bed each night, we ask him to say:

  1. One thing good about today.
  2. Hope he has a good nights sleep.
  3. One thing he is looking forward to tomorrow.

We do it in the form of a prayer after he says his Gloria Patri, as it connects to the past, present, future form of the prayer, but I think this is easily modified and adapted without a religious spin.


3 thoughts on “Personal After Action Reviews – Parent and Child Editions

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  2. Spot on Christine.
    I think that only the skilled warriors among us dare to view their role as one that 1)is pervasive (beyond those institutional titles) and 2)is held to account: in parenting, mentoring, managing, being a friend, etc.
    Embracing the leader within leads to the confidence in ourselves to make a difference in these areas of life. Leading an AAR at work would have to be driven by a sincere desire to improve the people in that team; and that takes leadership.
    And maybe that journal that we create over time becomes the basis for a book that changes the lives of millions.
    Craig Juta

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