In our continued journey into the art of reflection, we shall be looking at the interrelated concepts of mental models and cognitive bias and how they impact on our capacity to reflect meaningfully. In our previous blog post in this series, we discussed the idea of cognitive preferences and suggested that when reflecting we could enhance our reflective activities and outputs by applying System 1 and System 2 type thinking modes to the issue that we were reflecting on (Kahneman, 2011).
One of our obsessions is spreading the word about the power of coaching and contributing to both local and global communities of practice. Earlier this summer, we were delighted to work with Paul Lin, founder and president of Oxford Educational Cloud (http://www.oecglobal.org/about/team/), to tailor and deliver our Introduction to Coaching workshop for a group of Chinese entrepreneurs. The group were on a visit from China to soak up the culture of Oxford and Cambridge and also to access quality academic learning to inform their business leadership and practice.
Reflection 4: The act of reflecting
In previous blog posts we referred to personal preferences relating to reflecting. We suggested that some people might prefer to have some structure to enable them to think effectively whereas others might prefer a more free-flowing approach to this process. We proposed that two types of opportunities for engaging in reflective activities; these are formal sessions where groups of people might get together to reflect on specific issues or there may be more opportunistic moments that occur to reflect informally under more solitary conditions.
Continuing with the dichotomy of preferences, let us turn now to the granular aspect of reflection; the act of thinking or cognition. How we think is an integral aspect of reflection. Cognition has and continues to be of interest to various disciplines, including among others, Neuroscience, Philosophy and Psychology. Antonio Damasio, whose professional interests span all three areas attempts to explain the concept of consciousness, as without it humans would not be able to engage in acts of cognition. Due to technology and non-invasive procedures, it is now possible to look into a living brain and observe neural pathways as they activate when a person is thinking about something, which in the context of these blog posts is what we refer to as reflection; therefore to be able to reflect draws on the need to be conscious.
Reflection 3: Formal or Informal Reflective Time? How to be an Opportunistic Reflector
In our last blog we shared our ideas around different methods that support the process of reflection. In this blog, we will explore how to maximise the scope for reflection in life through making the most of both formal and informal reflective time.
In an ideal world, reflection would be something that we schedule into our lives as we do for work, gym visits and television viewing. Making diary time, even for just a short period, can help establish a framework within which learning, enhanced thinking and actions can be drawn. Having a structured approach within that time enables us to make the most of it. A short series of questions can be helpful, e.g.
Reflection 2: Find Your Preferred Method of Reflection
In our last blog we explored how to find purpose and intent as a way to distil experiences and provide time for reflection. In this blog, we will explore our second aspect of reflection – finding your ‘preferred method’ – what works for you? Just as we have preferred learning styles, we also have preferred ways of engaging in reflection involving varying degrees of structure and interaction with others.
Reflection 1: Purpose and intention or think about what you want to think about
In our last blog we set out the landscape for engaging with reflection as a way of becoming more productive in the workplace and arguably more effective learners.
This blog post discusses our proposed first aspect of reflection that is ‘Purpose and Intention’. As individuals, we have choices about what we want to reflect on, so it is not our intention to provide you with a list of suitable topics for reflection. We do, however, suggest you may care to think about the words ‘Purpose’ and ‘Intention’ as a way to help you to distill your daily experiences in a way that enables you to give time to an issue that would benefit most from some reflective practice.
According to Rene Descartes, the ability to think rationally is what differentiates humans from other species but there is evidence that suggests otherwise. Some animals seem to be showing signs of the ability to think and experience emotions. https://www.economist.com/news/essays/21676961-inner-lives-animals-are-hard-study-there-evidence-they-may-be-lot-richer-science-once-thought