If I could recommend only ONE thing to supercharge your own growth and development, it would be self-reflection. Not just occasionally when things went wrong, but as an ongoing way of working with yourself. Most people check their teeth and the tires or oil in their cars more often than they check in on their own practice, or their own inner lives – what a missed opportunity.
I am not just dispensing advice to others, I am saying this because it works. It has been fueling my own growth from the very first beginnings in working with people and I can safely say it has made me a different person and much better at what I do. You can only take people on journeys if you have done a bit of a journey yourself, and self-reflection helps you bring home the fruits and making them edible. When working with others, it is also an act of responsibility towards them.
I had two events over the last weeks that really hit home again for me how valuable reflection is and how manifold the ways are to do this. I wrote up a typical (and, of course, anonymized) coaching process last week using a particular kind of intervention for a book project (details to be shared when the time is right), and I participated in a research project on a (different) coaching technique where I was one of the people interviewed by the researcher.
Guided by the researcher’s questions, we deconstructed some of my coaching practice, and how I choose different ways of working in a process. Where I am taking things straight from the book(s), where I have modified things over the years and combined them with other elements, and where I take the spirit and general principles and then flex and flow with it to use it more as a frame or a container than the as the actual tools therein. It was a good time to take this step back to take stock. To appreciate the journey, to get input and feedback from the person interviewing other practitioners as well. To revisit my practice as a practice and to look at it from the outside.
Coaching unfortunately doesn’t have the same supervision requirements as other professions like psychotherapy have. People do it (if they are responsible practitioners), but it is not a must. And people do it in lots of different ways (if at all). I think that is a pity this doesn’t play a bigger role.
Any practitioner working with the inner lives of people would benefit a lot from this (looking at you, L&D, and looking at you, leaders and politicians of all stripes out there driving massive change affecting millions).
What do you do to take a step back and reflect? What feedback and input do you seek out? And what do you do with it? How do you look after yourself?