Relentless… Or Maybe Not


Relentless conjures images of unstoppability, maybe even of a juggernaut. Whoa. Yet, if we could call some of that up on demand, well, that could be really handy.

There are things in the way of choosing to be relentless.

  1. Full on relentless takes a lot of energy
  2. Full on relentless in me, upsets those around me
  3. I don’t have certainty that relentless will always work, so, why risk it?
  4. Relentless comes with the perception of losing touch with sanity, blindly pushing, feels rude

Yet, I have experienced a few really great breakthroughs by being relentless. Grit my teeth and maybe even close my eyes as I charge the wall, believing that one more time could actually be the breakthrough. Lots of  examples where being relentless against all odds won the day.

I have found a different, related, way to accomplish big things. My main interest in life is helping people to accomplish the changes they choose. Change a behaviour, an approach, a belief, a persistently unsatisfactory result. Change is usually messy business. It shows up at the most inconvenient times, comes in a few sizes too big or even bigger, and, can seem more wanted by others than by me. When I choose to adopt a change at least I maintain choice, do it or live as is.

When it comes to accomplishing big goals or handling big changes, I like to use a ‘gently relentless’ approach. I like relentless, but the kind that is not out of control, not blind. And that qualifier, ‘gently’? let us not make this an intolerant dictator over me. Gently relentless is steady as she goes, with time still available to say good morning. Gently relentless includes breathing and especially exhales, long juicy exhales. Yes… with relentless progress toward the goal.

As Coach, I adopt the pace that just slightly stretches the client and moves them inexorably toward what they want. This approach builds the new behavior, one brick at a time, allows it all to become stronger by increments. Not much dilly dally, lots of next step and next step, with celebrations as we go. One day, not too far along, the new is the normal and the old a laugh worthy memory.

OK, so how to do that gently relentless thing. I find that simply writing down where I want to end up and why it is important to me, is a fabulous start. Then place that written target somewhere that I will see it many times a day. Place it on the corner of my desk, by my coffee cup, on the floor in the doorway to my office. Every time I see it, the goal and its importance, is reinforced in my thinking. I may stop to doodle a tiny task to complete because I am reminded of the big goal. I may not. And if I want to, I can place smiley face stickers every time I do anything that gets me closer, however small. I celebrate the tiniest of victories and show gratitude for all of them. Just saying ‘thank you’ out loud brings positive reinforcement and encouragement and some joy too. This self reinforcing behavior gets me relentlessly closer to the big goal/change that I want. Momentum builds. It is gentle and so easy.

Gently relentless. Yes, it works! Will probably surprise you.

Joseph Seiler MCC 2011 – 2022