The unexamined life is not worth living – Socrates
Self-development is the hallmark of Action Learning—a journey rich in challenging new encounters and events. Keeping a journal helps participants draw together the threads of their experience by connecting their recorded observations and insights about themselves, their colleagues, and their work environment.
A journal enables the writer to take charge of his own development by promoting self-awareness, accountability, and adaptability: capabilities indispensible to learning.
Benefits of Keeping a Group Coaching Journal
- Learning from experience (successes, mistakes, uncertainties and challenges).
- Tracking the evolution of thoughts and actions.
- Holding oneself accountable for achieving goals and responding to complex situations.
- Applying ideas and concepts to actual work/life experiences.
- Broadening existing perspective–viewing situations from various angles.
- Sorting out and expressing feelings and complex emotions.
- Recognizing behavioral patterns and organizational realities (and their impact) over time.
- Anticipating, considering options, and planning future actions.
- Reframing past experiences in light of present knowledge or wisdom.
- Examining assumptions, values, and beliefs.
- Sustaining performance by documenting activities and accomplishments.
- Posing provocative and challenging questions.
- Recording ideas for future presentations, articles, or projects.
- Reflecting on personal insights.
- Recording memorable quotes from speakers or colleagues.
How to Use your Journal
The Overall Process
- Identify a trigger event or interaction (along with the date and place).
- Describe your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Explain why you responded as you did.
- Jot down the relevant immediate and mid-term consequences.
- Think about what you learned by writing a question to yourself.
- Note how you will apply what you learned to other professional and personal circumstances.
- Draw an image that represents your experience.
Throughout the Group Coaching Process
Pose a question to yourself (such as one of the following) or respond to a facilitator’s or set member’s question.
1. My Value as a Set Member
- What difference do I make to my co-workers/colleagues/team?
- When did I laugh the hardest during our work together?
- Whom do I admire and why?
- What happened that surprised me?
- What strength do I rely on too much?
- What can I bring to and learn from my colleagues?
- Have I maximized my team role (facilitation, decision-making, creativity, etc.)?
- How can I boost my engagement and participation?
- What is my level of courage and honesty?
- How do I show support?
2. Progress on my Goals
- What have I done that worked well, and why?
- What didn’t work well, and why?
- What are some signs that I’m making progress? Are there other ways to measure my improvement?
- How do I feel when I try something new (venture out of my comfort zone)?
- What am I resisting or avoiding? What causes my resistance? How should I deal with these factors?
- How can I come up with more alternatives?
- What am I avoiding?
- What is my energy level regarding this goal?
3. Developing a Skill or Attribute
- Get clear on the target (what would success ideally look like?)
- Do I/why do I really want this change? What will be the immediate and extended benefits (to me, others, my organization)? What will be the potential costs? Is the effort worth it?
- Have I already taken action to develop this capability? If so, how have I demonstrated this skill?
- Who are the members of my set who display this competency? Who doesn’t? What specific behaviors indicate their level of competence? How can I observe, adopt or avoid similar behaviors?
4. Learning from a Current Problem
- What is happening? What is not happening?
- How am I feeling, thinking, and acting?
- What is particularly stressful or painful about this? What is at stake or seems threatening?
- Have I responded (so far) in the way that I’d like to respond? If not, why not?
- In what ways is this situation the same or different from similar circumstances? What patterns do I recognize?
- How would I like to be supported? What resources can I enlist?
- What can I learn from this situation?
5. Reviewing a Difficult Interaction
- When did I feel most frustrated during the Group Coaching meeting (or journey)?
- What happened?
- What were my assumptions and expectations?
- What did I hope would happen?
- What were my team members’ expectations, thoughts, feelings and needs?
- What did I learn?
- What are my best options moving forward to positively influence the situation?
- What does stress bring out in me? Why?
- Am I getting better at giving constructive (difficult) feedback/input? How can I improve?
Tips and Cautions
- The most effective learning records include specific statements about experiences and insights (e.g. “I was frustrated when John ignored me, but I did not do anything about it.”) and how to apply these ideas to future circumstances (e.g. “I will sit near him next time and speak up first when I want to say something”).
- Reflect on and measure what matters to you, because what we pay attention to becomes integrated into our performance.
- Learning means acquiring the knowledge, skill, and mindset to act effectively in a wide variety of life’s circumstances—predictable and unpredictable. You know that learning has taken place when you understand or can do something you couldn’t do before.
I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be. Albert Einstein