Be careful what you measure

As I am writing this, I am on a bicycle trip and as the last time (maybe 2 years ago), I am learning a lot about life and coaching. We are in the south of France, weather is too hot for anything, really, but there we are. We want to make it to Spain. This time, we don’t have a “plan” – we learned last time that “a plan” can ruin our enjoyment. It all becomes about making it to where we wanted to end up and not about the journey. The link to coaching became apparent: if you stick to your plan in coaching, you might miss your client!

As I am cycling along, this time, I was noticing that the harder and hotter it got, the more my attention went to the little cycling computer attached to my bicycle. “It is too hot, it is too steep, it is …. Only 5 more kilometers to go… another 2 done…” I was not enjoying the scenery, I was not doing anything to make it easier for myself (for example taking a break), I was very focused on the measurement.

What does that have to do with coaching? I think, a lot. In coaching, both the coach and the client are well advised to be very careful about what they measure because what we measure somehow becomes important.

The client can become so focused on measuring “the success of coaching” that they lose all the learnings that happen on the way. A friend once told me a story of a client who did not want to pay the final installment of the coaching plan. His goal had been a certain number of kilometers he wanted to be able to run after the coaching process. He had not reached that number, so he thought that he need not pay my friend. Of course, there were a lot of things the client learned that were never anticipated at the beginning, but he lost track of this. As coaches, we can continually invite clients to notice the progress they are making and can counsel them on how to phrase their own coaching goals (and maybe a fixed number is not the right way to go).

As coaches we can also fall into the trap of measuring the wrong thing. We may feel successful if we hit a certain number of PCC markers or a certain number of clients and whatever we choose as a measurement will be what we will strive for. Let’s be careful not to lose the beauty of the journey for the measurement of the kilometers.

If you want to discuss your own musings or learn about our courses, as you know, we’ll be really happy to meet you in our free meetup and exchange.

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