Coaching Responsibility

Recently, a client (in training as a coach) posed an interesting question…”Can you coach anyone to peak performance?” The implication of the question was that there might be some people that just cannot perform at a level that yields excellence. What about coaching responsibility?

At the risk of being overly dogmatic, I just can’t imagine such a situation. Frankly, if I felt that no amount of coaching with a receptive client who truly desired change would lead to improvement, my integrity would force me to seek a different profession.

Responsibility vs. Victimhood

In my mind, this brings up the age-old issue of victim versus responsible. coaching responsibilityThere are those who see themselves as the victim in all of their circumstances—victim to the weather, the economy, their spouse, their family, even God. They just live their lives buffeted by events that are beyond their control. Each event creates emotions…fortunately some good, but most bad. (Hmmm, did you notice the victim mentality inherent in the word “fortunately?”) The problem is that when one sees themself as a victim, they are virtually helpless. There is no way out. No solution…short of the rapture.

The other side of the coin is to view all your circumstances from a responsibility point of view. Coin is a very appropriate metaphor here because every coin has two sides. And a person looking at one side sees one thing while another person looking at the other side sees something entirely different. But it’s the same coin. So, simply asking the question regarding any circumstance or event, “What choice did I make that allowed this circumstance to happen?” totally re-frames that circumstance. This perspective change or paradigm shift is one of the things coaches are trained to do.

Note that accepting some level of responsibility (very different than blame) for circumstances produces a whole different set of emotions than being a victim. The responsible line of thinking opens the door to making a different choice, which may alter the outcome. Isn’t it interesting to observe that the probability of a victim mentality altering the outcome is zero? That’s clearly the no-win viewpoint.

Coaching Responsibility

What does all this have to do with coaching responsibility or coaching other people to peak performance? Only that we all make choices every moment of every day of coaching_for_performanceour lives. Sometimes our choices are deliberate, but far too often they are simply unconscious choices as a result of our internal programming. (Do you remember each and every one of the thousands of choices you made as you drove to work this morning?) A coach is trained to help you become more aware of your choices. Different choices produce different results. One leads to having a modicum of being in control while the other leads to living life as a helpless victim. Which do you choose?

Jerry Graham is a certified coach and coach trainer who helps pastors and ministry leaders become the leaders they were meant to be. Meet Jerry at or