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“The best part of the process is that I now know where exactly I went wrong. And, of course the good news is that I know exactly what I did well”. said Rajesh Biswas ( the name used is fictitious) a senior executive in a fast moving consumer goods organisation when we were having a coaching review. The process he was referring to is called by many names: some call it a “Reflective Journal” others a ” Coaching Log” and so on. What  matters is not what you choose to call it – but what it is and what it does for the person being coached.

Let’s stay with Rajesh’s case to make the point. He went on to describe specifics– by way of example:          ” Giving in to that request came a bit too early” he admitted. “Maybe I should have waited for some more time before accepting the changed terms quite so readily”. This was an example of his reflection on what went wrong. As we analysed the situation, he told me he realized his mistake as soon as he saw his client’s reaction. He recognized that he could have struck a better deal for himself. However, once he had accepted the revised terms, he had lost a point- in a manner of speaking.

“And, oh yeah” Rajesh added ” Based on my last experience, I was careful not to speak of price till the very end. Just listening to the client gave me a lot of insight into what exactly he wanted and more importantly a sense of just how much it meant to him. This gave me the confidence that my terms were just right”.

In a reflective Journal, the person being coached is asked to jot down feelings based on experiences in different business situations. This is best done as soon as possible after the situation.It can, of course, be done later as well as long as you are able to recall your feelings and the details of the incident. Putting down your thoughts helps you to reflect on what you said and did- and the consequeunces of these actions.

The journal is used as a provide of data- for purposeful actions. With the assistance of the coach, the executive anaylses what went right and wrong- and consolidates learnings from that experience. I have found the reflective journal to be a very useful tool.

The management guru Peter Drucker spoke of the value of reflection when he said ” Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action”.

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This is Post No: 284 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.