Core Capacities Overview: Ongoing Self-Reflection

Engage in Ongoing Self-Reflective Practice

Senge, Hamilton and Kania (2015) describe reflection as “thinking about our thinking, holding up the mirror to see the taken-for-granted assumptions we carry into any conversation and appreciating how our mental models may limit us” (p. 28). They go on to point out that this can and needs to be done in groups, as well as individually, supporting the work of relationship building described above. They argue that “deep, shared reflection is a critical step in enabling groups of organizations and individuals to actually “hear” a point of view different from their own, and to appreciate emotionally as well as cognitively each other’s reality” (Senge et al., 2015, p. 28). More detail about specific tools to support this kind of shared reflection are provided in Module Four: Dialogue and Thinking/Learning Together.

Arguments for active self-reflective practice are supported by the kind of systems thinking approach around which this course is built. Such a view “takes into account the fact that we are a part of the system we seek to understand and influence” (Stroh, n.d.). From this perspective, the more we are able to reflect on our own assumptions, motivations and influences, the more we are able to work skilfully in the systems we hope to change or influence. This is particularly important in the context of climate change work, which – as we’ll explore in Module Two – can take a particular toll on the psychological wellbeing of practitioners and lead to defensive responses if not considered and supported.

As Sandercock argues, “all practitioners would do better work if they put as much effort into cultivating… ways of being along with their evolving ways of knowing and doing” (Sandercock, 2020).


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Strategic Dialogue and Engagement for Climate Adaptation Copyright © by Simon Fraser University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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