I’ve done some foolish things in my life and it doesn’t feel comfortable to admit that I was responsible for them. If I’m honest, I probably could have taken responsibility for them at the time. There’s not a single foolish thing I’ve done in my adult life that I didn’t at least suspect was foolish at the time. Sometimes I knew it beyond doubt but I didn’t want to acknowledge it. Other times it was a subtle knowing, like a whisper in my mind that I could drown out with my own justifications or by rounding up the support from caring friends who were willing to listen to and support my stories.

I regularly see examples of others also avoiding responsibility. Clients rarely mean to be evasive – it is simply their humanity and outdated maps in their heads that causes them to be in denial instead of taking responsibility for the outcomes they are achieving.

While being fully responsible can be challenging, it is also our strongest point of power. So as a coach, I use the Five Per cent Model to help my clients find that point of power.

Sometimes a client will tell me about what’s going on, what the outcomes are and all the ways in which it is the fault of [enter object of blame here]. It could be the workplace’s fault, the boss’s fault, the spouse’s fault, the ex-spouse’s fault, the parents’ fault, society’s fault or even a random stranger’s fault. I listen respectfully, all the while noting the ways they are disempowering themselves. I often sense that my client is at least fifty per cent responsible for what has happened or how they are feeling (we co-create our reality). Maybe even – dare I say it – 100 per cent responsible?

In that moment, my client very likely does not want to hear that they are 100 per cent or even fifty per cent responsible for the situation which has upset them. Many struggle with being even twenty per cent responsible – in that moment, anyway. I’ve learned that suggesting to a client that they are five per cent responsible doesn’t encounter much resistance. So that’s the number I usually go with, though the actual number doesn’t really matter. I just need my client to focus on what they are doing (no matter how small) that is co-creating their reality, because that is where they have some control and the power to create change.

After I’ve heard their story, I draw a circle on the page and say, “Here is the situation.” Then I draw a triangular slither in the circle, like a thin piece cut into a pie and say, “Let’s say this slice represents the five per cent of this situation for which you are responsible. What is it that you are doing that constitutes that five per cent?”

In the moment that my client focuses on how they have contributed to the situation, they are in control. They are no longer a victim of their circumstances but a conscious, empowered participant in their lives.

You can do this too. Draw the circle on a piece of paper if it helps. No matter how much of your challenges you think are not your fault, you will at least be able to claim five per cent responsibility. Hone in on that five per cent. Get curious and wonder what else about this situation would change if you were to change that five per cent that you have control over. There is freedom in owning the five per cent.


This article is an excerpt and adaptation from Seven Freedom Elements, published by Morgan James Publishing (New York), released 6th Feb 2018, and available for pre-order. Click here to learn more about the book and get your copy.

To apply for coaching, go to our ‘apply’ page, or email: kylie@kyliezeal.com.