CARVER Coaching & Performance Newsletter

Hi Paul here,

I hope this finds you well, and that Christmas has been good to you. This week’s theme is…


(The ‘R’ of The CARVER Framework)

Reflective practice is an ongoing process that serves to make sense of, and learn from, past experiences. It is an effective method of facilitating reflective learning and improving future performance and outcomes. Though it may appear to be a simple process, reflective practice is not easy; it requires purposeful effort and proactive engagement. It requires a high level of self-awareness, accountability, and self-regulation. However, with purposeful effort and proactive engagement, reflective practice can be a transformational tool that assists in building better, more desirable habits to refine and improve our practice and performance.

There are two key stages to reflective practice. The first is the reflection itself – identifying the key takeaways from the situation we are reflecting on; what worked well, and what areas can be improved. Reflective practice also provides us with an opportunity to assess how true we are to living to our Values & Visions; it is a chance to consider how our actions align with our beliefs. Reflection allows us the opportunity to hold ourselves accountable for our actions and honour what we set out to achieve. Our actions should be congruent with the Values we set and the Visions we are striving towards. Reflection drives self-accountability, it keeps us disciplined and affords us the opportunity to evaluate and refine our behaviour.

Once you have identified areas to modify or improve, the second stage of reflective practice is to put these learnings into action. Identifying areas for improvement or change is just the first part of the process; they must be met with action in order to create change. A simple Habit Tracker or Reflection Log is a useful tool for tracking our actions.

Tracking during a session and/or after a session allows us to record observations and refine our process. Reflection is part of a continuous cycle of improvement; there is no end to it. Experience is important, but in order to learn in a productive manner, it is critical that we reflect on the experience. Without reflection, we will move aimlessly from session to session. Learning will become sporadic as opposed to efficient and focused. As humans… we are designed to drift.

Honesty is crucial to the reflective process, bearing in mind that the objective is self-improvement rather than self-preservation. The answers too many of your questions lie within, and the challenge is to access them through deeper reflection. Reflective practice is personal and we should avoid comparing ourselves to others. Instead, the focus can be honed on improving self. This can be achieved by using a Reflection Log and rating our performance in different areas. See below a simple CARVER Reflection Log I often use.

This information can then be condensed to identify what …

1. I need to start …

2. I need to continue …

3. I need to stop …

Next week in CARVER Insights I will share with you my January Habit Tracker from my journal. By then I will be 6 days in and patterns will be emerging. Reflection and tracking are great tools to help us live an informed and deliberate life and afford us the opportunity to learn and grow as we go.

CARVER Insight

This week I’d like to share with you my observations from what I believe is an exceptional learning and development environment. One thing I know for sure about coaching and performance is that… environment is the silent hand of behaviour. I have been writing this piece in my head for the past few months, and feel that the Christmas period is the perfect time to share it with you.

My wife has a great faith in God and is a strong and active Christian. When she moved here from Texas to live with me, we began to attend Discovery Church Galway on a consistent basis. In coaching and performance parlance, let’s just say… I am not as ‘talented’ a Christian as my wife and although not new to the game, it is fair to say I have missed a lot of training and have work to do. Having gone to this church week on week for a consistent period, I have observed first-hand and marvelled at how an exceptional environment is crafted.

Firstly, we are greeted at the front door by two smiling faces, and two further smiling faces just inside. Name badges are often used, and church often begins with a shake hands and hello to those around you; we are there to connect and celebrate. Every day a circa 8-piece band plays 2 songs to begin. There are drums, guitars, keyboards and so on. The music is powerful and uplifting. Everyone sings along as the words are projected onto a big screen. Different groups perform each week. All god’s children have a place in the choir… there is opportunity for anyone with interest.

The Pastor’s name is Paul. He is warm, relatable, knowledgeable and humble; he is a servant leader. It is obvious he cares deeply about his Church and its people. He frequently talks about the purpose of the church, and what he wants it to embody. His sermons are considered, relative and from the heart. Guest pastors often preach; both male and female, black and white, young and old. There are example and role models for all as Pastor Paul frequently steps aside in order to allow new people opportunity for growth. He is a leader who facilitates growth; the church is constantly regenerating.

A team of people help with the lighting, videography and technology, while another team provided teas, coffees and food for those who stay on after church to catch up and socialise. A prayer team is on hand for anyone who needs prayer. Counselling is provided for those in need of help. People bring their unique skills and talents and make things better; everyone can help, there is a job for everyone and the needs of the people are met. The children attend the Children’s Church which is upstairs, and volunteers lead this in an age-appropriate manner. The teenagers also have their own time together on a Friday evening.

Throughout the week there are various activities and gatherings: music lessons, training, bible studies and so on. People’s competencies are grown and so they are enabled to contribute at a higher level. The conveyor belt is constantly churning out skilled people who are competent, confident and motivated to contribute to this vibrant environment. Once a month, the ladies meet for dinner in the church on a Friday and have themed evenings. The last one was African evening… my wife had a great time.

People gather in family homes during the week as part of connect groups. They share their troubles and hardships, and support each other; vulnerability drives connection. The diversity in the groups is amazing. This humbles people who have the capacity to be humbled and gives one a great insight into how other people live. We are all the same, really. Outreach programs connect to and serve the community in a number of ways.

So what you ask has all this got to do with coaching and performance? Week on week I have observed a vibrant atmosphere and environment where people come with a sense of purpose, willing and able to contribute to the greater good. They come to serve and be served. They come to help; it is through giving that they receive. The environment is engineered in a way that drives such behaviour. Everyone can contribute in their own way. They have choice, opportunity, competency and they feel related to the purpose and mission…. The Self Determination Theory in practice. The environment drives the most desirable behaviour of all: Contribution. And for the ‘weak’ and ‘underdeveloped’ like me it gives us a place to grow.

So as I observe with my coaching hat on, I continue to ask myself how can I create an environment within my team where people both want and are competent to give the best of themselves and their skills. I have said it before and I may well say it again…coaching and performance are omnipresent and are principle-based practices.

Learn as, and where, you go,


Copyright Paul Kilgannon 2021
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