I was asked by a client why the work we had done together had been so successful. The client had already worked with a number of other professionals without success and was curious why my approach had been so effective. My immediate thought was to highlight the quality and nature of my training. It was an intense period of instruction and hard work, which left me with a strong commitment to support people in their personal development as well as the ability to carry out my work to the highest standards.
But that is only part of the explanation. Regardless of my contribution, the work is ineffective without the engagement of the client. The greater the commitment he or she is willing to make, the more productive the work will be. When both parties are wholeheartedly dedicated to the process the results can be astounding.
I spoke to a friend last weekend about how much of a difference it makes to work closely with someone. He told me of his training sessions back when he was a track athlete competing at a very high level. He used to start his training runs from a bus stop where he and his training partner would meet each morning. It wasn’t always easy and there were occasions when neither wanted to get out of bed, but it was the thought of the other one making the effort which spurred each of them on.
They had made a commitment to one another and although each could easily have picked up the phone to cancel any session, it was never an option. Even in the middle of winter, when the early starts were at their most demanding and reluctance reached its peak, they still put on their running shoes and stole into the darkness to begin their run. And they did so because each one had the same thought: ‘I bet he’s at the bus stop.’ That was all it took. Having made their commitment to train together, neither wanted to let the other one down.
It is, of course, a different arrangement in coaching, but mutual commitment to the collaboration is key. Without it, progress is stilted and results are superficial. When it is present, however, it provides the platform to achieve astonishing results. After all, who would have imagined one could be so motivated just by an agreement to meet in the dark, in the middle of winter, at a bus stop.