The personal development side of a doctorate

August has been about the Literature Review. Typically, this is Chapter 2 of the Thesis and I decided to approach it as I had done with Chapter 3 and understand its purpose first before I launched into just reading things. Now I have realised that each part of the thesis is about proving yourself as a researcher and not just peripheral stuff to the research, I am looking at things differently. Would I have done a DProf if I’d known it was about ‘training’ to become a researcher? Not sure although it is counterbalanced by the access to, and need for, some interesting conversations and reading material.

The literature review is important as it basically sets out to see if anyone else has answered your question before and why it’s worth doing. Although I have been reading lots on neuroscience, what has become clear is that my literature review needs to be about ‘coaching change-hesitant clients’, which I am less keen on doing, it has to be said. One reason why most of us were nervous about doing the Lit Review is because we were worried that someone else had in fact worked on our beloved mission. This unfortunately guides you to prove yourself right (this research is needed) rather than reviewing what has been done on the subject already.

As with chapter 3, the value and purpose of doing a literature review was useful to consider. I have now taken a step back from my topic and I’ve thought about it from the reader’s or examiner’s viewpoint: If I was them what questions would I have regarding the credibility of the research and the need to do it. Or ‘What’s the landscape around this?’ So, my questions are looking to explore what coaching literature there is on change-hesitant clients and how to work with them. Also, what mind/brain models are there in the coaching literature and what makes them useful. I also felt it was beneficial to widen my reading into related fields such as therapy and personal change.

The second aspect is around neuroscience and coaching. For example, how has neuroscience come into the coaching literature; is it adding value or not; how is it being used to help practitioners and whether there are neuroscience models/ partial models of the brain being used. I think this is a comprehensive review although I am a bit worried that it is a bit too comprehensive.

Just writing out these questions and putting myself in the shoes of the reader has really helped with detaching myself from the topic. It took a bit of doing, to let go, but the shift came from thinking about what I would want to know about my colleagues’ DProf topics. That was easy and it made me really curious about what the answers would be for my topic, which surprised me.

I wondered how this would be helpful to my coachees. How could we explore the same issue elsewhere/ for others without creating caveats when they returned to themselves? I think for some, getting that mental shift, to being calmer, would be helpful although you really have to have detached rather than think you have – this is worth striving for. Having done that myself has re-demonstrated the power of doing it. This is why I think it is important for a coach to be coached or to do some form of experiential CPD as you ‘feel’ the effect it has rather than just theorising about it. (Reconnecting to the magic of coaching)

Have we got carried away with ‘everything must be digital’ and ‘quick’ – “that’s want people want”? There are a few articles appearing which are exploring the consequences of that. Here are two that grabbed my attention: Exam results and Social interactions

I’m also transcribing the interviews conducted in July, which has been quite an eye-opener. Like most people I dread listening to myself and facing-up to how that comes across. Added to this – my system also recorded the video! So when I replay the recording, I get to see myself and the interviewee! Luckily the transcribing software (Express Scribe), if minimised, has a small video window. And when I am transcribing I look mostly at the keyboard and focus on the talking. However, once I got into it, I started to peek at the video and saw myself as the interviewee would have done – that was very useful and I have already made some adjustments from it. Again, detaching myself and seeing myself as if I was the other person was very helpful. Somehow when I am Skyping, because it is live, I don’t get that same experience. I am so glad I had to do it and glad I could do it privately.

But I couldn’t escape hearing myself: I was certainly nervous on the first interview – unbelievable how many times you can get ‘kinda’ into a paragraph 😊. On the upside, it wasn’t just me, the interviewees had their own ones as well, especially as they were having to think on their feet in answering my questions. The one striking thing is that almost 90% of the sentences, mine or theirs, started with ‘so’ or ‘and’. Yet, I didn’t notice it during the interview, it just flowed.

Transcribing is slow and a 40min interview is taking around 10hrs. I have a foot pedal for stopping/ starting the recording and the software allows me to slow down the speech so I can type more continuously. However, despite my diligence – as I thought – when I played the recording back through to check I had everything, I was stunned at some major parts I had left out. Sometimes up to 5 or 6 words. It was an impactful demonstration of what I thought and what actually happened. Also getting the punctuation is difficult and can really change the meaning of the text. I now have much more admiration for people who do this, particularly if they were not involved in the conversation.