Coaching Skills: The Difference Between Commitment vs. Trying

"Cause I'm frontin' in my ride, and my word is bond"
~ LL Cool J

Don't you hate it when someone breaks their word? We all do, if someone commits to doing something, they better do it unless God forbid there's a really, really, really good reason why they couldn't. 

We all expect people to live up to their commitments, it's part of living in an adult world. Where adults have responsibilities. And, we're expected to get the things we say we're going to get done, done. 

Here's the thing, we will always have commitments in one form or the other. Even if those commitments aren't made with other people, you'll find that we make them to ourselves all the time. 

And, here is where it gets hairy. Because although we probably won't get away with breaking our commitments to other people easily (because they eventually might end up biting us in our ass), we sort of have the mistaken belief that it's somehow OK to break our commitments to ourselves (Hello! New Year's resolutions). 

Now if you're find that you're having a hard time keeping to your word, I may have a few ideas for you. 

Let's start by looking at the reasons why you may be running into trouble. Consider the following scenario: It's a Sunday afternoon and you've just spent the last hours lazily lying on your patio chair, sipping on an ice cold Margarita, just letting time pass by. 

You're having a lovely time to say the least! Never mind that you have a big 'ol stack of work to complete by Monday, because that's what you said you would have done. Never mind that you've had this in the back burner for the last few weeks. In your head, you've just chucked it way over there in the "it's not that big of a deal" part of your brain. 

You might not realize it, but there might be a part of you that's committed to something else that's much more important to you. And, if there is, you owe it to yourself to find out what exactly that is. 

Perhaps you're committed to proving that there's too much on your plate. Maybe you're just tired of the job you're in. Maybe you're committed to being out of a job, because there's a real chance that you might end up losing it if you don't complete the work. Who knows? There could be a ton of possible commitments underlying your actions and behaviors. You may not even know or be consciously aware of them. 

What's important is that you find out exactly what they are and then do something about it. Take action. Change things. Because if you don't, no one will. 

The good news is that becoming honest with yourself, and finding out what your true commitments are, is immensely powerful, liberating, and worthwhile. Instead of being a victim, you own up and take responsibility for how you want your life to be. 

Now, I realize that being called a "victim" might rub you the wrong way. However, if you're complaining about how your life sucks but don't do anything about it then I've got news for you my friend...You are playing the part of victim.  

A Different Approach

Discovering your underlying commitments is just the first step towards change. And, I should warn you to avoid using your newfound knowledge to dis empower yourself. What I mean by this is that you shouldn't go so far as to ruthlessly beat yourself up for finding out the truth about what may be motivating your behaviors. The idea is for you to use what you've learned to create positive change. 

The purpose of finding out what your real commitments are, is to take back your freedom of choice. When you are clear about your commitments, you've taken back control and are now behind the driving wheel of your life. That's a good thing, by the way. You have made a chosen commitment instead of being run by an automatic behavior. 

This process of becoming aware is very powerful when you look into areas in which you have been trying to produce a result but haven't been able to. Why does it feel that although you've been constantly "trying," you haven't really gotten anywhere? 

What is the underlying commitment behind your "trying" and not achieving? As long as you are trying instead of committing, you are being run by your underlying commitments. 

In Relation To Your Coaching 

Notice that when you're coaching, you'll frequently find clients being run by their underlying commitments, they are part of human behavior. In fact, it shouldn't surprise you to hear things like: "I'll try to get to it later this week," or " "I'll try to stop waffling off on so much." All of these words only mean one thing, that for all of their trying, they're really not committed to changing. 

One way to really tell if a client is committed, is by looking at their actions. You see, most people will say one thing and do something completely different. So it's much more effective to pay attention to people's actions instead of their words, especially in coaching.  

Your ultimate purpose as a coach is to help your client align their actions with their goals. Which is to say, to help them be committed. 

When you get your clients to see through their underlying commitments, it will definitely get them much further towards their goals than much anything else you can have them do. 

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