Reflection as a Tool for Growth

Reflection as a Tool for Growth

Have you ever been asked to describe yourself and been stumped in finding an answer? It can be difficult to put words to questions like “what drives you?” and “what do you want to achieve?” if you never think of them. Reflection, whether personal or facilitated, is an integral part of personal growth and achievement.

However, “Type A” people, those who are accomplished doers, tend to be less adept at reflecting. Coaching can help these high-achievers master the art of reflection, in turn helping them to extrapolate and maximize the learning from what they have already achieved.

Reflection Styles

Reflection is not a “one size fits all” discipline. One area that Type A people, and others, often need help with is identifying a reflective style that works. Asking the right questions can help uncover the best style and the ideal time or environment for it. Consider asking these sorts of questions:


  • “What kind of time and place are most conducive to reflect?”
  • Do you reflect best by talking through things out loud [extrovert style] or by pondering or writing by yourself [introvert style]?
  • “Have you kept a journal in the past? Has that worked for you?”

Reflection Questions to Ask

Reflection questions ask us to stop and examine what is happening at a deeper level. They are not just questions about where you have been; they help you determine where you want to go and how to get there. Examples include:


  • What is behind that feeling?”
  • “What would it take for you to solve that problem?
  • If you could get the answer to one question, what would that question be?
  • “What lessons will you take away from this particular mistake?”
  • “Are you holding onto something that is holding you back? Why?”

Solidifying the Learning

Any time someone makes a major breakthrough, you can get extra mileage out of the event by reflecting on how it happened. Important insights about change and how to succeed in other areas of life can come by tuning into what makes change work in another area. A second important reflection task is to make the change or insight stick. Reflecting on how to make the change permanent can have a powerful impact.


  • “How did this change happen? What events and circumstances led to the breakthrough?”
  • “How can you make this change stick, so you never have to learn this lesson again?”
  • “What bad habits might lead you into slipping into old ways? How can you change those habits?”

Following the Emotion

Most of our emotions are also information we can use to pin key learnings. We feel things for a reason. Emotions can tell us things that reason cannot, because emotions bypass many of our conscious defenses and provide a window into our being. “Following the emotion” is the technique of tuning into the emotional cues you see (or feel), and reflecting on them and exploring them further.


  • What are your emotions saying?
  • What is your body saying? Close your eyes for a few moments and really pay attention. What sensations do you have? What do they mean?”
  • “Is it just fear that causes you to feel this way?”

This is another post inspired by the book Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills. For more reflection questions like the examples above I recommend picking up this book.