Busyness, the ‘state of being busy with many things to do’ dominates our lives. So much so, that we compete with each other to ‘win’ in the busyness stakes. When asked “how are you” we reply “busy, really busy” – in vernacular – ‘flat out like a lizard drinking’. In contrast, in coaching, learning depends on us not being busy – but rather taking the opportunity to stop, pause and reflect – flat out like a lizard sunning itself!
You may wonder why there has been a break since our last bulletin. Well, I could suggest it is because we have been busy at WhyteCo. However, it is really because in May I was away travelling and taking time out for learning. However, as we all too often experience, the minute we stop work and start to relax, we get sick. Like so many other professionals, when I stopped work I fell prey to the phenomenon of ‘leisure sickness’. During the forced rest period that a minor illness demands, I thought about our everyday culture of busyness and coaching.
Welcome to our fourth evidence-based coaching dialogue. This month we look at the importance of the coaching relationship providing a space for reflection and learning.
Australian research found an important characteristic of executive coaching is the space created for people to reflect and think and learn (Tooth, 2014). This opportunity in coaching to “pause and reflect” or to “step off the treadmill” (MacKenzie, 2007) contrasts with the habitual action and busy nature of our lives. As described by one executive, “you can always find an excuse that you’re very, very busy which is why I think the coaching can be effective because it forces you to stop and think” (Tooth, 2014). For reflection to occur, it is important for people to perceive themselves as “off the job” (Boud, 2006).
However, it is not just stepping back from the busyness of daily activities that makes coaching significant. It is also the relationship between the coach and the person being coached that is at the core of what happens in coaching. The value of reflection and learning about self in a coaching relationship is more profound (and greater) than what’s achieved alone (Tooth, 2014).
For professionals managing coaching in organisations, this research reinforces the importance of coaching being an opportunity for people to step away from their daily work activities (and frequently their physical workplaces) to learn. People who enter a coaching engagement who are unable to take (or who are not afforded) adequate time to commit to coaching are unlikely to maximise the benefits of the experience.
Have you experienced coaching as a break from the busyness?
Please contribute to the discussion and let us know what you think of our fourth bulletin.
Boud, D. (2006). Creating the space for reflection at work. In D. Boud, P. Cressey & P. Docherty (Eds.), Productive reflection at work (pp. 158-169). London: Routledge.
Mackenzie, H. (2007). Stepping off the treadmill: A study of coaching on the RCN Clinical Leadership Program. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 5(2), 22-33