Measure Progress a Step at a Time
One of the reasons people work with coaches is to change certain outcomes, which means evolving one or more of their behaviors (because we focus on what they can control).
Their excitement is high when we first begin because they can’t wait to get it “right.” They have convinced themselves that once they understand what to do differently, everything will work out beautifully going forward. This is their definition of success.
Simply intellectualizing a different step is not the key to success. Our brains have a neural pathway that has been created over years. It’s so engrained that we often automatically react without thinking first; sometimes, we don’t even realize we’ve done it.
For example: How many times do you say some form of “bless you” immediately after someone sneezes? How often have you driven to a routine destination and not remembered taking every single turn in the road to get there? When the doctor taps your knee with that little “hammer”, what happens? These reactions are autopilot. When they are working, it’s great; when they aren’t working, it can take a long time to change that reaction pathway.
Put another way – a situation happens, and you react. When I coach clients, we focus on three additional steps to this process: A situation happens … You react … You reflect on the impact your reaction has had … You realize the impact is not what you wanted … You recover with a different action.
The key to success is practice because it helps build new pathways in our brains over time. Progress is made the next time a similar situation happens – there is a change in your initial reaction or less time between any of the other steps (reaction and reflection; reflection and realization; realization and recovery). Progress is what I celebrate with my clients. Celebration builds awareness; awareness contributes to consistency; consistency creates sustainability. Sustainability is success.
This Week’s Challenge: The next time you “automatically” react to your boss / colleague / loved one, stop and reflect on the impact your action has had. If it’s not exactly what you wanted, what can you do differently next time? Or do you need to do it sooner? Do you need a short pause before reacting? Do you want to choose different words or tone of voice when you react? What if you asked a question before making a statement? What if you checked in after you made your statement instead of shutting down the conversation? There is a myriad of ways to “course correct” – practice a variety and see what works for you; every situation may be different. And remember – celebrate progress each step along the way!
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