The Power of Reflection


Coaching is inherently a reflective thinking space. This year, I've decided to go analogue with my reflective practice to see what new things emerge.


For those that know me, I am a big advocate of giving new ideas and experiences a chance to be properly assimilated so that I can be constantly working towards self awareness and improvement. It wasn't easy at first though, and I often just found myself writing about what happened rather than what it meant. So, I thought I would share with you three models of reflection which can help add a little bit of structure to the reflective process. As I am increasingly saying to my clients, this is a really great thing to do after a coaching session. Just sit with your thoughts for a short while and think about what you've discovered and what it means.


Rolfe et al (2001)

What, So What, Now What?

The simplest is often the best. This model which is incredible easy to remember fundamentally asks three questions. What? So What? Now What?

  • What: Describe essentially what happened. Was it good or bad? Which bit did you enjoy and which things were more challenging?

  • So What: Describe why this experience was significant. What did the experience make you ask about yourself? What emotions came up? What made certain elements feel significant?

  • Now What: Is about next steps. How will you apply yourself with this new thinking? What will you do differently? What about this could you share with your friends, family, colleagues or coach?

Gibbs Reflective Cycle (1998)

Taken from Graham Gibbs' work around learning from experiences, the Reflective Cycle gives a great structure to process events and consider how these experiences inform future decision making. Its cyclic nature is great to use with either repeating events or iterative change. It can be used for both thinking about things that went well, as well as those things which are more difficult.


Big Decisions

A great exercise I was introduced to during my Post Graduate Certificate with Barefoot Coaching was a series of questions to build awareness around intentions and impact to enable decision making:


  1. Am I prepared to pay the cost of this decision, financial or otherwise?

  2. Does this action benefit everyone around me as well as myself?

  3. Does this action represent growth for me as a person?

  4. Does this action come from wisdom and courage, instead of fear or doubt?

  5. Does this action stem from an internal desire instead of something I feel is expected of me, or put upon me by others?

  6. By saying "yes" to this, I am saying "no" to....

  7. By saying "no" to this, am saying "yes" to...

  8. What will happen if I do this?

  9. What will not happen if I do this?

  10. What will this give me that don't already have?


Hope some of these exercises help with your reflective practice!


Catch you soon,



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 © Gary Buxton 2021