About a year ago, we had a freak accident at our house. We were in the bathroom giving our twins (Ainsley & Hailey) a bath and when we pulled them out to dry them the bathroom mirror literally fell off the wall and shattered into pieces. Our little Ainsley had to get four stitches on her forehead, but otherwise, we were all unharmed. Needless to say, it was a shocking experience that could have been much worse.
While my wife was at the ER with Ainsley, I spent about an hour cleaning up all the shards of glass that now filled our bathroom sink and floor. As I was cleaning up the broken glass, I thought about what a metaphor this was for our lives. Under normal circumstances, our bathroom mirrors provide such clarity. It has its place on the wall and it provides a clear and recognizable reflection.
However, our lives aren’t quite so predictable. At times our mirrors will fall and shatter into pieces and we lose the clarity we once had. Our reflection is instead fragmented into thousands of tiny pieces. The plan we had for our lives seems like a distant memory now as we look at the shattered glass spread across the floor. We are left to pick up the pieces.
As coaches, we are also there to help our clients reflect on their actions and their experiences. What are they learning? Where are they growing? What are their emotions telling them? These are questions that often go unasked in daily life.
In his book Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills, Stoltzfus says “when coaching leaders, you are often working with people who are accomplished doers, but less adept at being and reflecting” (2008. pp. 80). I believe that this applies to more than just leaders. We as a culture have become less adept at taking time for reflecting in general. We are the most connected culture in history but we are losing the art of proper reflection. It is not as important what we do but rather who we are in our essence. This is especially important for us as Christian coaches. We must allow our clients the time and space to reflect on their often busy and hectic lifestyles. Allowing time for reflection will also aid our clients when they begin setting action steps.
I once had a mentor who told me that experience is not a great teacher. It is evaluated experience that is the real teacher. He was telling me that simply experiencing something was not as valuable as reflecting on those experiences. Once we have a chance to evaluate our experiences, then we are able to gain new insights and wisdom to chart more productive action steps using these insights we learned by evaluating our experiences.
What I learned from my experience of picking up pieces of broken glass is that clarity is not the goal. Clarity is as fragile as a bathroom mirror. Instead, trust is the goal. As Mother Teresa so eloquently stated that “I will not pray clarity for you. Clarity is the crutch of the Christian. But I will pray trust for you, that your trust will increase.”
As coaches, we must trust the process and more importantly trust the Holy Spirit that our clients will gain new insights in reflecting that will lead to growth. Reflection is a key tool for us to allow room for growth for our clients and also for ourselves.
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