Three posts in 7 days – this is a record.
I was talking with a professional acquaintance the other day and was fascinated by her stories and the amazing experiences she has had. After listening to these stories, it was easy for me to point out specific aspects of those stories that really highlighted her uniqueness as a consultant and the valuable perspective, skills and capabilities she has to offer.
Of course my advice to her was to write these stories down and share them on her web site, blog – or in a book. Easy to say, harder to do for many of the reasons I listed last Friday. I then suggested she write one or two stories in the next couple of weeks and send them to me to read. When she turned the tables and suggested we hold each other accountable for writing something I found myself ‘balking’ at the thought… which she immediately picked up on. I was a bit embarrassed and mumbled something to try to justify myself; but it was a telling moment. I heard the echo of my dad’s voice saying ‘do as I say, not as I do.’
I have always found it so much easier to create structure and accountability for someone else than to do it for myself. I don’t think that I am alone in this given that there are so many counselors, therapists, spiritual directors, coaches and, yes, consultants around.
Most of us have learned that an outside perspective along with some external accountability can be life-changing. Three years in the Army taught me that very quickly. I often use the personal trainer effect to illustrate this truth. Another truth is that there is always a tendency to revert back to the mean. I’m proof of that as well. When I stopped seeing my personal trainer, I reverted to my old exercise habits (or lack thereof) and watched the results of all that earlier time, effort and financial investment slowly slip (sag) away.
The moral of this story? An outside perspective and some external accountability really can be life-changing. But sustaining and building on that change usually means continuing the practice of seeking that outside perspective and external accountability on an ongoing basis – even when we don’t think we need it anymore.