In this issue
The compass rose: coming home to ourselves through reflective practice (free article)
Karyn Prentice and Elaine Patterson
Here and now, this space between us
Tim Jones and Catherine Noel
Ask the Executive
‘How do I market myself as a coach?’
Meet the member
What makes a good coach? As practitioners, how do we gauge the effectiveness of our work with people? And what is the difference between a good coach and a great coach?
As I read through Sally Brown’s cover feature in this issue, the latest in her Coaching Conversations series, it occurred to me that two key themes were emerging: the practice and process of enquiry and that of inquiry. Many of the contributors stress the importance of acquiring regular client feedback, of keeping up to date with developments in the field, and of working within a recognised ethical framework – an outward, externally focused method of professional development. However, what also struck me was an equal emphasis on the need for reflective practice – through supervision, and/or peer support, through creative practices such as journaling, and a regular self-care practice – an inward, internally focused method of personal self-development, attending to ourselves as practitioners and as human beings. This practice of inquiry seems particularly relevant when we are going through a period of change or transition in our life and work – perhaps we are changing how we practise, and with whom, or we have identified a particular pattern emerging in our work that we wish to change. Perhaps we are noticing a change in the kind of clients we are attracting, or we feel a desire to work in a different way. Karyn Prentice and Elaine Patterson offer up a model for this kind of self-reflective inquiry, ‘the compass rose’ – a map for literally and metaphorically moving through an exploratory process that embraces both the internal and the external, and connects ‘our soul with our role’: our inner life, roots and values with the bigger picture and our higher purpose; and our ways of being with our ways of doing.
Last year, I took a sabbatical from my own private coaching practice, as I was feeling called to work more integratively, and I found my practice was naturally evolving in other areas. At times, I have found myself not practising at all, which has caused questions of identity to surface – if I am not working directly with clients, then what is my role? Regular supervision throughout this process has helped me to stay ‘in the work’, and I realise that it is through the continual process of inquiry – through meaningful conversations, and attending to my own creative and personal development throughout this period of change and transition – that I am able to retain my sense of self and my identity as a practitioner, even when I am not practising. I see an interesting parallel here with Jane Moffett’s article on the role that coaching can play in supporting working women who have taken a maternity break from the workplace. Drawing on her own recent research with a group of working mothers, she explains how a coaching intervention helped these women integrate their pre- and post-baby identities – their identities as professional working women and as mothers, defined as ‘ego’ and ‘soul’ identities – into one cohesive whole.
Issues of identity, change and transition also surface in our fourth feature, in which a counsellor-turned-coach and a coach-turning-counsellor compare notes on their respective journeys. Catherine Noel and Tim Jones, who work for the same organisation, take a break from work and invite us to share in their ensuing conversation, exploring what resides in the ‘here and now’ of the space between them. Tim and Catherine would also be interested to hear from you – can you relate to any of their experiences? If you are going through a process of retraining or changing how you practise, do get involved in the conversation – you can contact Tim or Catherine directly or get in touch with me at the usual address below.
While preparing this issue for press, I find myself returning to the words of Parker Palmer, quoted in Karyn and Elaine’s article:
‘Our lives (as people practitioners) both deserve and demand reflection. We demand reflection because we must know what it is in our hearts, lest we do more harm than good. We deserve reflection because it is often challenging to sustain the heart in work.’1
Reading through these contributions, I feel honoured to be in the company of people who demonstrate such unwavering commitment to continual reflection and inquiry, and by our refusal to live an unexamined life. I look forward to facilitating this and other conversations in the future.
1 Palmer P. In: Intrator S, Scribner M. Leading from within: poetry that sustains the courage to lead (Introduction). San Francisco, Jossey-Bass; 2007 (p1).