The Planner, the Doer, and the Coach

The Planner, the Doer, and the Coach

One of my favorite books on the topic of behavioral change and self development is the book 'Triggers', by Marshall Goldsmith.  In it, Goldsmith gives the useful analogy of "the planner, the doer, and the coach".  

Basically, within the cognitive process of changing our behavior and getting things done there is a planner and a doer.  The planner has our best interests and intentions at heart when strategizing the way forward.  The planner is also very hopeful and optimistic about the outcome.  The doer is in charge of carrying out the plans that the planner put together.  While the planner has this wonderful vantage point and a surplus of enthusiasm, it is the doer who deals with the problem in real time. 

As you can imagine, there is often a great disconnect between the planner and the doer.  The environment in which the plans were made is not theenvironment in which they are carried out.  And though we may have wonderful intentions at the outset, that disconnect between the planner and the doer is why change sometimes doesn't occur. 

We might be very meticulous when setting up our budget, writing down our professional goals, or putting together our plan to lose 20 pounds this year.  We might even make up an elaborate spreadsheet or diagram showing in minute detail the way this change will happen.  But the planner is not there when your Instagram feed reminds you of those shoes you've been wanting to buy for a while.  Or when your boss is treating you unfairly.  Nor is the planner around when those cookies and cupcakes keep magically appearing at the office.

No, its doer has to deal with all the little things that trigger unwanted behavior and sometimes...the doer fucks up.

This is where the coach comes in.  The coach is inserted into the environment as an intermediary between the planner and the doer.  The coach reminds us of our good intentions that we had coming into this situation.  The coach pushes us to be accountable to the the strategy which the planner laid out.  The coach can also dampen those external cues that might steer us off track.

I am a coach.  People come to me with plans, they have things they want to do and they have an idea of themselves they want to manifest.  I guide them on that journey and make sure they don't get lost along the way.  But the coach in this scenario can be anything.  It doesn't have to be a person.  It can be a sticky note on your refrigerator reminding you to drink more water or to call your family.  It could also be the app on your phone that makes sure you get to your meetings on time.  The coach is simply the thing that helps us follow through.

There are good coaches and bad.  Some that help and some that don't.  But treating the coach as an important part of the equation will make behavioral change much easier. 

The big take away here is to remember that between the planning of the plans and the doing of the things there will be obstacles.  But when you bring the right coach into the environment magic can happen.