Progress – An Inch at a Time

Blog 2021-04-06 Progress

There are so many reasons why people work with coaches. For example, one can: increase awareness of their impact; learn new skills; change behavior or mindset; explore what’s next or what’s possible; be held accountable for reaching a goal. For some, the road to their desired change can take just months; for others, it might be a few years.

Regardless of the timeframe differences, one constant I see is frustration when clients believe they have started executing on their desired change but then experience a backslide. They tend to believe that once they try something new and it’s effective, they’ve “got it.” Disappointment results when the next attempt is either not as deftly managed or the impact is something unanticipated. Next comes the self-doubt talk: “I’ll never get this.” Or “I can’t do this.” Or “I’m a failure.”

At this point, it’s critical to remind them that progress – and not the end state – is the key to ultimate success. During our coaching, we dissect their experience into four separate categories in order to determine the learnings, decide on what will be different the next time, and to acknowledge that progress has truly happened.

Here’s how it works with my clients:

Step 1 = SITUATION: Outline the actual situation that created the need to do something or behave a certain way.

Step 2 = REACTION: Describe the reaction; what was done, said, or felt? How long did it take to react once the situation occurred?

Step 3 = REALIZATION: How long did it take to realize that the reaction did not have the impact desired?

Step 4 = RECOVERY: What was done to recover in order to reset the situation or have the impact desired?

In every single case, clients acknowledge they have made progress in either: their actual reaction to a situation; the time it takes to recognize that their reaction did not result in their desired outcome; and/or in determining how they might want to recover (re-address) the situation and try again.

Awareness of actions and their impacts is the root of making progress. Practicing different reactions and alternative ways to recover from undesired outcomes builds behavioral “muscle”. Taking time to reflect and identify what worked and what didn’t is the path to sustainability.

This Week: Take a few minutes after the next few interactions you have with a person (or group) and walk through the four steps above. What are you noticing? Regardless of the actions, where are you reducing the time it takes to go from reaction to realization … or from realization to recovery? On its own, regardless of attaining the full desired results, each of these areas is a good measurement of progress and movement forward to future better results.

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