What if… mindfulness weren’t so fluffy after all?

What do you think of when you picture mindfulness? Something fluffy and soft, like a comforting pillow?

I ask this because these days mindfulness is talked of widely as a solution to almost every ill. If we’re mindful, we might eliminate depression and stress, cultivate clarity of vision, influence our surroundings to the good, run better companies, and possibly live longer more healthy lives. Practising mindfulness for even a few minutes a day could increase our sense of well-being, helping us to be comfortable in our own skins, as well as accepting of life as it really is, as opposed to being fretful because things aren’t what we’d like them to be…

Fluffy FeatherIf this were the full story, mindfulness really would be the ‘grand fluffy pillow’ of development interventions. The problem is that the story’s a little more complicated than that. What if mindfulness weren’t so fluffy after all?

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4 bite-sized insights into Career Coaching

Have you ever wondered what career coaching is all about? Many coaches without a careers advisory background shy away from tackling career issues head on in coaching sessions. I was pleased to participate in an excellent CPD workshop on this topic recently, and I’d like to share with you some insights I took away from it, just in case you’re wondering what career coaching is all about too…

career compass‘Approaches and Tools for Career Coaching’ was facilitated by Paul Walsh – a coach, facilitator and trainer who’s currently a Learning & Development Specialist at Manchester Metropolitan University here in the UK (you can see his LinkedIn profile here). Packed with fascinating insights and practical tools to help us move forward, it encouraged everyone present to have that bit more confidence in tackling career-related matters.

I can’t reflect all the goodies from the session in one blog post. So here are  4  bite-sized insights that made the biggest impression on me. I hope they’ll leave you feeling encouraged too.

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The importance of non-directiveness in coaching – and 2 good reasons to build awareness

Remember that in a previous post I outlined the 5 basic coaching skills we really need to become effective coaches? We’ve already taken a look at the first four: contracting, use of some kind of structuring mechanism (with the GROW Model as an example), listening, and questioning. At long last we’ve arrived at the fifth basic coaching skill: non-directiveness.Cartoon man with blue arrow

In this post I’ll be taking a look at non-directiveness, as well as its place on what Myles Downey has called the ‘Spectrum of Coaching Skills’, before giving  2  good reasons for making sure we put effort into building awareness of when our interactions are non-directive and when they’re not.

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5 good reasons to become a reflective coach

Much is said in coaching circles about the need to be a ‘reflective coach’. Most experienced coaches would have us believe that they already are ‘reflective coaches’. But what does being a ‘reflective coach’ really mean, and why should we bother thinking about it, let alone work towards embodying it?

two headsIn this post, I’ll be looking briefly at what the word ‘reflective’ means in the context of coaching, how we can put together a template to use in our reflections, and  5  good reasons we should all put our efforts into becoming truly reflective coaches.

To me, this isn’t just another ‘flavour-of-the-month’ phrase to be batted around. Along with deep, transformative listening, it’s at the very core of what coaching is about. Listening is the coach homing in on the coachee – and reflective practice is the coach homing in on her or his own internal dialogue.

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What if… terrible coaching sessions weren’t really that terrible?

Have you ever left a coaching session groaning, “Can things really get any worse? Is my coaching really so dire? I’m an idiot!”? Whilst this can be a common reaction amongst coaches in training, don’t be fooled into thinking it doesn’t happen to more seasoned coaches from time to time too.

Man holding unhappy red squarePossibly the reaction is accurate. The coaching session was that dire, and you really are an idiot. I’d hazard a guess, though, that if you’re a qualified experienced coach (or even a newbie in most cases), the more likely story is that something’s been triggered in you which has retrospectively coloured your memory of the experience of the whole session. It’s part of a reflective coach’s duty to try to get to the bottom of such things rather than brush them under a convenient carpet to be tripped over at a later date.

Here I’m going to touch on the kinds of circumstances that might cause such an extreme reaction in a coach, and suggest  3  simple processes we can build into our planning which can help put the experience into perspective. These  3  processes are things we should be incorporating into our thinking anyway, but here we’re looking at them as being helpful when we really need to find a different perspective.

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