In studying for my coaching course I have been introduced to existentialism.  I have found the theories and ideas around existentialism fascinating which I why I wanted to reflect on them here.  As I have learned more, I have realised that many of my favourite TV shows and films have strong existentialist themes including Bojack Horseman, Rick and Morty and Fight Club.  I think there are a number of reasons why I am particularly interested in existentialism at the moment including my own mid-life, reflecting on the direction my career has taken and the decreasing health of my father.   I am interested in what some would see as the darker aspects of existentialism , including the acceptance of our own mortality, and using that as a driving force to make the most of life.


Much of the existentialist theories I have researched have focused on the importance of being authentic to yourself, rather than being happy.  There are several definitions of authenticity, but for me it is about taking responsibility for the way you live your life according to your values, beliefs and passions.


Taking responsibility for your own choices is a key part of existentialism. But sometimes choice can be overwhelming, even paralysing.  Buridan’s ass is a tale of a donkey who was stuck between two bails of hay, but could not choose which one to eat, so he starved.  This summerizes the paralasis of choice.  From an existentialist perspective, it is often not important which choice to make, as long as you make a choice and are committed to it.  Whichever choice you make will have conciquences good and bad so you may as well pick one.  There is also the theory that whatever we choose or do or say, is so unimportant in the grand scheme of things that we may as well just commit fully to doing something.


In greek mythology Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to roll a bolder up a hill every day for eternity.  The existentialist Camus related this to the absurdity of having to do futile work everyday, but the key is to learn to commit to the task and embrace the absurdity of it.   “The struggle itself […] is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy”.


From a coaching perspective there are a number key things I have taken from existentialism including; focusing on authenticity, drilling down into why someone is doing something or feeling a particular way as well as recognising the importance and responsibility we have that comes with the freedom we have over our own lives

Made with Padlet

Contacting and supervision

A quick update on where i’m at.  I have to get 3 coachees for this year.  I have now decided who they are and my first session is on friday.  The first sessions with the coachees will be a contracting session, and I am a little nervous about it. I have lots and lots of coaching books now, which I have been scanning to find info on contracting, plus I am making use of the resources on the portal as well as the notes I made from my initial session with my CMS (Coach mentor supervisor).  I was despirately trying to get all the first sessions in place by the end of the month but I have now decided not to add that pressure, even though this means going off the suggested timetable.

I was in oxford for my first workshop which was on supervision.  I have to say the best bit for me was meeting others who have been in the course.  There were three other delegates who have been on the course together since March.  I got some really useful advise off them about what books were really useful (Julie Starr, the coaching manual), how to manage the reading list (dont feel you have to read every book from cover to cover) and how to manage your time (see above about pushing back my contracting sessions.  The session itself on supervision was useful.  I initially thought supervision was just about observation. I was wrong. we unpacked some meanings on interpretations of the word and then went through some examples of different types of supervision.  We went through a devels/angels advocate example which felt like a cut down version of the 6 thinking hats, but it was very useful.

Ive also tried to sneak in some coaching conversations with friends, and it has highlighted that I dont feel I know what im doing yet.

Photo 19-09-2017, 12 11 33

Reflecting on reflection

As part of this course I have to sumbit a number of Reflective Notes (RM). These are structured documents to record reflections on research and activities.  The structure is based around the following questions

1.       What was significant and why?

2.       What did / do I think and feel about that? Why might that be?  Is / was there a link with my actions / behaviour?

3.       What am I learning? What have I learnt? (about myself, coachees, coaching, contexts for coaching?)

4.       How will I apply this to my ongoing learning and practice?


I have just had some feedback on my first reflective note, and I have just watched a recorded webinar on reflective practice so I thought this would be a good time to reflect on reflection.

While I found the questions in the structure really useful for reflection, I had real difficulty breaking my natural flow of reflection up into the boxes for each question.  Some of the feedback I had was something that should have been in box 3 was in box 4.

Although its been some time since I reflected as part of a fomal study programe, I think I am generally good at reflecting.  My feedback from my RN was generally positive ‘better than average for a first note’.  I have been thinking about how I reflect a lot outside of work.   I run a book club.  Every month I read the chosen book, reflect on it a bit, go to the meeting, then add my reflections to the group discussion/reflections and after each meeting I write a blog post summarising and reflecting on the meeting.  There are lots of benefits to the club, one being the reflection we are forced to do, individually and as a group, means we get a lot more out of the book that we would buy just readining it. I am not the only one who has got more out of a discussion about a book than the book itself.  Then summarising and reflecting on the meeting in a blog post is a good way of capturing our thoughts.

I have found blogging a really useful way to reflect over the years for different reasons. As well as this blog which I have about the various training courses I have had, I have also kept reflective blogs on a previous job and my experiences suffering with a skin disease.  One of the things I appreciated about blogging was the freedom to use my own ‘voice’ to get thing clear in my own mind.

Although I don’t have a blog about running, maybe I should.  I recently had a really bad run that I couldn’t complete without resting for 10 mins and then hobbling home with an injury.  I posting a small reflection on Facebook about this and it was useful as it forced me to think about what went wrong and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  I guess its all about turning a bad experience into a positive learning experience.


Book club: https://proudpages.blog/

Skin: http://kevsprp.blogspot.co.uk/

Work (previous role): https://newlearning.wordpress.com/

One quote that keeps coming up on this course is “Trying to learn without reviewing is like trying to fill a bath without putting the plug in” (Mike Hughes- Closing the learning gap).

DIPLOMA in Professional Coach-Mentoring – Initial Briefing Session

I have just had my first session with my Coach-mentor Supervisor (CMS) as part of my diploma in professional coach mentoring. One of the things that came out of this was that I have got out of the habit of reflecting on things, so I am writing this blog post to reflect on how it went.
Much of the session was her finding out about me and asking questions such as
– What are your strengths/positive attributes?
– What do I want to get out of these sessions?
– What can I do to help motivate you?
– What do you want to know about me?
– What is your experience of coaching?
I tried making notes, but I have probably missed some of these questions. While she had an agenda of things to cover in this session, she said future sessions will be based more around my agenda. Before I joined this session I she sent me contract on how we can work together, which she called a hygiene sheet. This covered things like agreeing to time commitments, being open and honest, confidentiality and how she will provide a balance between support & challenge.
We discussed the balance between support & challenge and why it is important to aim for a high combination of the two. There is a table where this quadrant of High support and High challenge is called the ‘Loving Boot’

I felt that part of this session was to get to know me, and for us to have an understanding of each other, beyond the hygiene sheet, hence the questions above.
We discussed what I wanted to get out of the course and these sessions. At the moment I need some help with understanding the differences/boundaries between counselling/coaching/mentoring. We discussed this at some length and this led onto discussing other options such as reverse mentoring and peer mentoring. I also had concerns over what counts as a coaching conversation, particularly for the log of activity I have to keep. She referred me to Erik Parsloe’s definition of a coaching culture as being one of ask not tell. So my coaching conversations are when I ask questions to help people develop themselves. I think that’s my understanding of it so far.
One of the areas I have to sort out is deciding who will be my 3 coachees for the next 6 months. I have put an email out to people at work and I now have 6 to choose from. I will have calls with all of them to help me decide and aim for a good variety of people and needs. I also have to decide and book my preferred workshop sessions.

Final COLF Sessions

COLF Tangent: Using Music

Background music Tracks (Other Silk Roads) – Manu Cornet via https://www.jamendo.com

Further info in public domain music

COLF Reflections Units 7&8