Your Environment is Stronger Than Your Willpower

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Some leaders want their ‘challenging’ people “fixed” by a coach. Can you just take them away, fix them up and return them when they’re sorted out? Ah…no.

A mentor of mine once shared “your environment is stronger than your willpower”.

No matter how transformational the coaching, UNLESS the environment makes a shift to support the positive growth, the new thinking and behaviour will eventually shrink back to some version of what it was before.

Think of any change you’ve tried to sustain, beyond a month or even six, it requires immersion, practice and awareness.

Immersion – in new content and a different context.
Practice – being encouraged in real-time to try new and unfamiliar ways, of doing familiar things.
Awareness – gained through implementation, reflection and discussion.

For coaching to stick, it requires a multilayered approach. Like a village raising a child, sustaining growth requires an environment and network that’s a match to the new.

From personal post-it reminders on the dash, to new daily input like podcasts over radio. From the coachee’s leader investing more time, asking new questions, to the HR expert trying a new approach.

Our environment prefers the status quo, so to sustain and leverage positive change, a refresh of the environment is a must.