“I can’t believe how screwed up things are – I’m just running from one disaster to another and don’t have time to ever get ahead!”

I hear this from people fairly often, and it’s one of the barriers people have to coaching.  If you’re fighting fires all the time, then you’re making the problem worse by spending time with a coach.  After all, there’s only 24 hours in a day.

To be honest, that’s the math of scarcity, of win-lose.  There ARE alternatives.

A simple example:  You spend half an hour today fixing a problem.  Tomorrow, you find out that didn’t work, and you spend another half hour undoing what you did today.

If you could spend 5 minutes just thinking through it, that might just save the hour you just wasted.  No, it doesn’t always work that way.  But if it works that way even 10% of the time, you’re still ahead.

Another example:  You invest a day fixing a problem.  If you could have done an hour of investigation to find out if there’s a less expensive way – an industry best practice, a solution from a partner – then you can potentially save a lot of work.  Plus, sometimes your “fix” needs additional work, where someone else’s proven solution might not.

That’s how a coach helps give you your time back.  By replacing frantic action with thoughtful consideration.

But sometimes it works the other way, too.  Sometimes people get stuck in loops of endless analysis, never quite getting to making a decision and taking action.  Oh, they worry a whole lot, but don’t seem to get around to action until something forces their hand.

A coach can be that impetus.  I spend half an hour with my client, and at the end, the key question is: “Now what ACTION are you going to take?”  If she says that the action is to go off and ponder and think, maybe I’ll point out that she isn’t yet getting the value out of our discussion.  Not until she DOES something.

But I do that in a gentle way, which is why I tend to work with people over the long term.  I need to adopt a style which will best suit what they’re trying to achieve.  Yes, I can play that role of the strict accountability partner.  Or the person who will adapt to my client’s pace, then push them just a little bit faster and further.

You don’t get to a 3 minute mile just by having someone push you incredibly hard on the first day.  You get there by continually pushing yourself faster, incrementally, day by day.