You could see from the look on her face, the sentence had landed deep inside her. A few seconds later, it had reached her mouth.

“That’s it,” she said. “you are right, I need to get out of my own way.” She then scribbled furiously.

You know you have got through to someone, that something has resonated, when you see that flurry of activity – An expression, a change, repeating the words back to you and then noting it down. I sat back, to let Jane finish.

In truth, this is pretty common when we work in this area. Helping others to insights is what I do. But I also knew it was only half the story. The toughest test was still to come, the one that so many in learning miss. Turning this insight into action.

Shared connection and purpose

How many courses have you been on where you gained some new insights, only to look back weeks or months later, and think. ‘Why didn’t I use that more effectively?’ Yes, the odd little thing will stick or habit modified, but so many times, it’s revelation followed by stagnation.

This is not learning, it is simply knowledge transfer. Learning is about changing the way you do things. Tomorrow needs to be different from today. If the world stays the same, what has the learning been?

Jane was not short of ideas or insight. Her problem was activity, selecting the right activity. She was busy, very busy, but not showing much for it. A common affliction of our modern age. For her, she needed to stop being so creative and actually select the right set of actions, to get to what she needed. The way it made sense to her was ‘I need to get out of my own way’.

Mind the gap

“So, what are you going to do after today, to make that stick?”

‘What do you mean?’ she said.

“Well, most people simply don’t do it, they don’t implement the change. They get home, in their normal surroundings, think the chat was interesting and don’t take much action, if any. It’s the gap between ‘Knowing’ and ‘Doing’.”


“Unless you treat your own development as a clear set of deliverables, with the same kind of rigour as a tangible business deliverable, then the change usually doesn’t happen. As soon as you leave me, the busyness and the business take over again. “

“Yes, that’s true”

“So, I’d like you to create a plan, when you are going to update me on it and I want some sort of commitment to timescale.” (I knew Jane would react best to the directive approach)

“Right”, she replied. “I’ll start that now”.

I’m seeing Jane next week. We’ll be taking stock then.

So, the next time you want to make a change

  • How are you going to make it stick?
  • How will you close the ‘Knowing’ and ‘Doing’ gap?
  • Who will support you, to help you apply the learning to the challenges you face?
  • Who will you be accountable to, for your own development?

At Regent Leadership, our coaching support goes hand in hand with any development. We believe that knowing is only part of the story, learning is about changing the way you work. Changing in tangible ways and that often takes support and someone to keep you accountable.

It is the cornerstone of our Leadership Programme, as we know you need both insight and support to make the change happen. We integrate planning, review and support into every learning programme. We believe learning is only a good investment, when it sustains. When it sticks.
If you want to know more, get in touch.