The Paradox of Accountability in Coaching

In my 15 years of experience, I’ve found that most of my clients come to coaching knowing there is opportunity for growth in their lives, but being uncertain how to make the most of it. They are completely capable of moving toward growth on their own, but they hire a coach because it streamlines and speeds up the process. Holding clients accountable to follow through on what they say they want is a big part of a coach’s role.

For example, in every coaching conversation, the client decides what specific steps they will take to move toward their goals. A client who is focusing on improving her physical fitness might commit to joining a fitness club, finding a running partner, and keeping a food journal. She agrees to report back during our next call what steps she did take and what she learned. Such external accountability works—good leaders use it all the time to motivate others to productivity.

Still, sometimes people don’t do everything on their list, and sometimes they do nothing on their list. Some might call that failure. I call it INFORMATION!

Surprised?

In fact, it might sound like a paradox, but more learning comes out of what doesn’t work. In other words, failure is an essential part of the formula for success. Think of it as fodder for the compost pile. Compost takes our peelings, our castoffs, what we can’t use and turns it into rich soil. You might say failure feeds our growing edge. What are you willing to fail at today?

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