Saturday 2 March 2019

Question X

As part of my coaching practice, I write reflective notes after every coaching session. I start with a narrative outpouring: my initial stream-of-consciousness reflections on what has just taken place. Then I use a pro forma and work through a series of questions designed to prompt examination of all aspects of my approach. Reflection is key

These notes are designed primarily to ensure that I reflect on and learn from my practice, and also, of course, are very helpful in preparing for subsequent sessions. They are also the source of the issues I take to supervision. Up until now, my favourite - or possibly most hated - question on the pro forma has been: What would I least like my supervisor to know about this session? Clearly that is a powerful question in terms of self-examination; and for obvious reasons, when preparing for supervision, I look at all the answers to that question on every review sheet since my last supervision meeting.

But I have come up with a new question, which is my current favourite.  And that is Question X. Question X is a prompt to myself to ask a new question. And that question is sometimes: what is the question I should be asking about this session? I have found that a fascinating question to ask myself: the answer often surprises me, and the answer to the resulting question is often very revealing.  But the other use I have for Question X is to ask myself a question about a current aspect of my work I am seeking to improve or examine in detail, or a model or theory I want to work with and practice until it is integrated in my work.  

For example, one of the essays in the Heart of Coaching supervision (a book I blogged about recently) is about philosophy, purpose and process; and an exhortation to reflect on all three and how they are integrated in one's practice. I found the essay, and the ideas in it, really stimulating; but of course, the risk is that I forget them and move on, as I continue to read (currently, Thinking, Fast and Slow, about which I will doubtless blog in due course). So I am going to use Question X this week to ask myself about philosophy, purpose and process in my work, and how (or whether) they are appropriately integrated. 

The joy of Question X, then, is that it makes what can be a very repetitive exercise (the completion of a pro forma) fresh every time - and makes me focus on whatever needs to be at the leading edge of my learning at any point in time.

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