Last year I studied for ILM Level 7 in Executive Coaching - a rewarding but terrifying experience for someone who had not engaged in structured study for over 35 years! Part of the course requirement was to write ‘reflective logs’ of the coaching sessions I undertook - these recorded the feelings, thoughts and behaviours of myself and my client and how this would influence my coaching practice going forward. I was sceptical to begin with - just how much ‘reflection’ could one have on a single session? As a seasoned arts management professional I am used to a fast moving pace at work, handling multiple tasks, solving problems, meeting deadlines... no time to stop and think!
Fundamental to coaching is the belief that solutions are more powerful and sustainable when self-generated - so, pretty soon, the penny dropped and I understood that ‘reflection’ not only served to improve my performance as a coach and therefore benefit the client - but also acted as a sort of ‘self-coaching’ tool. It enabled me to better understand my own values and motivations and how that affects my coaching - but also my work and my personal and professional relationships. This understanding supports my development as a manager and a leader, with my team and with my peers and improves my self-awareness. It gives me the knowledge I need to make change in myself.
So how to sum up over 36,000 words of reflection that I completed during the course? In common with many women, I have a strong desire to be useful and get things right, which gets amplified into an urge to solve things. At best this can move mountains, at worst it is makes me take on more than I should and stresses me out. The great thing about learning to be a coach is that it provides a context in which I can take responsibility and be useful, but in a way that does not require me to generate solutions for other people.
Reflection can also turn plain old worry into constructive self development - and you don’t have to do a coaching course to start!
This book could be useful if you want to find out more:
The Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning by Jennifer A Moon
Louise Jeffreys leads the artistic marketing and media relation functions at the Barbican Centre and is responsible for the formulation, implementation and delivery of the Barbican's artistic programme and strategic vision. She was previously Head of Theatre and Arts Projects at the Centre, programming and leading Barbican International Theatre Events (BITE) which became one of London's most innovative artistic programmes, presenting and co-commissioning leading international theatre, dance and opera. Prior to the Barbican, her previous roles include Administrative Director at the Nottingham Playhouse, Head of Production at Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, and Technical Director at the English National Opera. Jeffreys is a certified ILM Executive Coach and Mentor, Chairman for the ABTT (Association of British Theatre Technicians), and is on the Board of Trustees for the English National Opera and Told by an Idiot. http://www.barbican.org.uk/