Reflection 4: Reflection – the optimising coach’s best kept secret

Reflection (dark pink-green)
A well-oiled process of systematic reflection is the optimising coach and mentor’s best kept secret.

It provides you with both the unconscious and conscious information you need to be able to work in a highly individualised way with each one of your clients.

I am sure that this is what you and every effective coach or mentor aspires to do. However, often we do not give ourselves the time or space to collect all the information together we need – about our client and about ourselves – to make personalisation as refined a process as we would wish.

You know that what enables one person to learn may be diametrically opposite to the support another client needs to make that neurological shift that moves them on. How one client sees, makes sense of and responds to the world requires you to select the approach, tool or technique from your coaching and mentoring rucksack that is going to be the most effective FOR THEM.

The second of 2 key questions relating to reflection, highlighted in last week’s blog, is clearly relevant here.


How can I use reflection to better understand how to work most effectively with each and every one of my clients?

And this is where systematic reflection comes into its own.

What do I mean by ‘systematic’? I mean planned, regular, consistent and recorded.

  • Planned? – Time built in to integrate conscious reflection into your practice before, during and after coaching or mentoring
  • Regular? – Applied to each coaching or mentoring session
  • Consistent? – Asks the same questions with a focus on you as well as on your client
  • Recorded? – Collected in a way that enables you to apply it to your work with the individual and, as appropriate, to your practice as a whole

It may sound as if I am asking you to add yet another layer to what is already a pretty full schedule of planning, keeping yourself up to date, supervision and recording. Definitely not! What I am suggesting is that the very information you collect to ensure that all those activities above are focused and fruitful should be built into a regular process of systematic reflection. Reflection that looks both at what is going on for your client and what is going on for you. Reflection that becomes such an intuitive process that the information you need is there to collect just as you would pick ripe apples that have dropped from a tree.

In my experience reflection does not need to be a time consuming process once you get into the habit. Like any habit internalisation means that most of the processing is going on even before you are aware of it. The more you use reflection in a systematic and regular way the more the information that ‘appears’ in your consciousness is finely tuned and very quick to record.

This is why systematic reflection is the optimising coach and mentor’s best kept secret – it can reduce your work load rather than increase it!

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