"Coaching & Mentoring Through the Looking Glass"

Key to our success as Coaches’ and Mentors’ is the skill and desire to critically evaluate our practice; Regular periods of self-reflection, viewing ourselves through the mirror, enabling us to make sense of our experiences.

Thing is, this process and way of thinking doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so what exactly is involved?

An excellent description of reflection can be found in the Harry Potter novel ‘The Goblet of Fire’.

Dumbledore, chief wizard and head teacher of Hogwarts school, in a conversation with Harry talks of having excess thoughts!

‘Harry stared at the stone basin. The contents had returned to their original, silvery white state, swirling and rippling beneath his gaze.

“What is it?” Harry asked shakily. “This? It is called a Pensieve,” said Dumbledore.  I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.”“Err,” said Harry who couldn’t truthfully say that he had ever felt anything of the sort.“ At these times” said Dumbledore, indicating the stone basin, “I use the Penseive. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into a basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links (J.K.Rowling 2000).

Critical evaluation therefore requires us to store our thoughts in some way. Our “penseive” will take the form of a diary, reflective log, audio/video recording, or when studying a qualification ,a written assignment.

Critical evaluation involves reflexivity, “drilling  down” on experiences, making use of models and theories to enable in- depth analysis. Examining  situations from differing perspectives and identifying any resultant new thinking which can be applied to future situations.

 Everything about us, our personality, beliefs, values, behaviours have an origin somewhere. Critical evaluation gives us the opportunity to challenge ourselves, enabling growth and develops understanding.    

 For those of you studying a qualification, I have included links to documents published by University of Portsmouth and University of Wolverhampton, which will prove useful.



Critical examination is similar to the work of a film critic.

If you embark on regularly reviews of the movie of your life as a coach/mentor so far; what do you identify with, what patterns do you see emerging? How does this make you think and feel? What changes would you like to make?

You might not like what you see, hear or feel, however if we develop our emotional intelligence and accept what we discover the rewards are endless.

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  • Hi Sorina,

    Thankyou for taking time out to post. I totally agree that feedback is a gift, which will sometimes be the missing pieces of the puzzle. You remind me though that this will highly dependant on our levels of emotional intelligence and the core behaviour of " understanding self".    

  • Hello Kevin,

    Critical examination of ourselves is essential indeed, but in the same way we should accept relevant criticism from others and use it to improve ourselves. From time to time, other's feedback can be the missing piece of the puzzle and can bring us real insight about us, and about the way we mirror ourselves in the others.

    Critical evaluation of oneself and openness to  and acceptance of others observations can bring us some excellent coaching skills.


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