(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


Awareness, action, change, growth. One of the core elements of a coaching relationship is the topic of change. Change happens in many ways and there may be lapses during the change.

A lapse is a momentary (or a least, short term) return to a way of thinking, feeling, acting, or being that preceded the change. Lapses are a normal part of change. They are recovered from quickly. They even can serve to show how you have changed. Don’t worry about your lapses.

A relapse is different. A relapse is a total return to your former state. It is the unwinding of your change. A change that didn’t “take.” Relapses happen.

Only become worried about a lapse when it continues and you don’t seem to be able to come out of it quickly and easily. The worst thing you can do when experiencing a lapse is to assume it’s a relapse and throw your hands up in defeat. Have patience. Return to your changed state and continue to enjoy it.

Lapses teach. Relapses trap.


Coaching Point: Can you remember a lapse you experienced and mistook for a relapse?


Copyright 2006 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.