Declaring Your Commitments

The coaching relationship begins with the client declaring her commitment(s) in life. Sometimes these declared commitments start with stating one or more goals, in response to the question: “what do you want from coaching?” Yet, stating goals is only the start of the conversation.

Moving from goals to commitments often requires diving below the surface, exploring what you REALLY want from coaching. If the coaching is successful, how will your life have fundamentally changed or shifted? How will you know this has happened, namely, what are the measures of your success?

Often a client will state a goal around one aspect of life, such as her job or career. Then, in discussing other aspects of life, such as relationships, often what is revealed is that someone’s commitment applies to all areas of life. In this conversation, it becomes evident that a stated goal is often the desired result from a more fundamental change or shift that a client REALLY wants to have happen.

When considering what someone really wants to have happen, the question of “for the sake of what” is usually key to answer. Again, why do I want to engage in this particular commitment? What do I really want to shift?

Declaring commitment(s) is a process by itself. Often, what a client states as a commitment in the first or second session evolves into a new commitment, or perhaps a more focused commitment. There is not one path toward landing on a commitment; and often the process of considering and reconsidering provides much learning.

Commitments are stated as something internal, not external. Specifically, the words “I am a commitment” are used rather than “I am committed to.”  As Richard Strozzi-Heckler states in The Leadership Dojo: Build Your Foundation as an Exemplary Leader: “We ask people to say, “I am a commitment to …” instead of “I’m committed to …” as a reminder that we are the commitment, we strive to embody its value and contribution, and we’re fully accountable for its outcome. The commitment lives inside us and moves out from our center.”


So, what is it that you really want to shift or change in your life? What is it about your way of being and doing, that when you realize the change or shift you desire, you will be so different that you will engage in life in new ways, and perhaps be so recognized by others. What is so important to you that you are willing to engage in coaching, knowing that long-lasting change takes time and effort? What is your “for the sake of” that you so desire in your life?

Thomas McSteen