Coaching is a purposeful and extended conversation about what you want and how to realize it. Based on a relationship of truth and trust, coaching is powered by a process and skill set that helps you to clarify your preferred future, identify the best path forward, and effectively navigate obstacles that impede your progress.

CoachNotes

Bring Your Best Self

by Lynn Schoener
from the Archives January 2015
 

Great coaching depends more on your best self showing up than it does on your skills. Here's a simple practice to ground and prepare you to facilitate a powerful conversation:

 

Five to ten minutes before meeting with your coachee, take a trip down memory lane. Think about a time when your support of another person had a positive impact. Because of your genuine interest in them, asking questions instead of giving answers, they discovered new solutions to old problems. Because that person felt truly heard and valued, they could move forward with a renewed sense of competence and confidence. 

 

When you have that memory in mind, connect to the feelings associated with that success story. Those feelings could include excitement, a sense of purpose, satisfaction with a job well done, or the joy that comes from truly helping and being appreciated. Recalling and reliving those positive feelings grounds you in who you are, and reminds you of all you bring to this current coachee: your gifts, skills, and time--and the blessed assurance that you and God are in this coaching thing together, always. 

 

When you place yourself emotionally in that knowing, you prepare yourself to be fully present. Your focus shifts from self-consciousness to self-confidence. Curiosity, compassion, and creativity replace concerns about getting the coaching process exactly right. Beginning the coaching conversation from this space of self-appreciation increases the odds that your coachee will feel appreciated by you--heard, understood, respected, and valued.

 

Does this mean that skill development doesn't matter? No. But when we focus first on the highlights of our helping journeys, on what worked and how that felt, we'll create the energy and optimism needed to improve and grow.

 

Lynn  
 

Copyright © 2013 by Lynn Schoener

 

 

Coaching Q&A

How does coaching fit into the mission and vision of the Church?

The mission of connecting people to life in Jesus is facilitated when people are living in alignment with their values, in right relationship to the key people in their lives, and leaning into the purpose that God created for them. Passion and energy is abundant and readily available for living the mission. Unexpected changes or challenges can complicate, even derail a person's focus, balance and momentum, diverting attention and draining energy. Coaching accelerates the process of getting unstuck, on track, and renewed.

What does the Bible say about coaching?

The Bible does not say anything directly about coaching. However, Jesus was the master at asking people questions that led them to transformation. He definitely had a coaching approach to his earthly ministry. Think about these questions he asked: "Do you want to be healed?"  "Who do you say that I am?"  "Philip, how shall we feed these people?"  "Will you wait with me?" Jesus often engaged people in dialogue, and the questions that he asked led them to deep discoveries.

What are the benefits of coaching?

  • Narrows the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
  • Draws out and develops your untapped potential.
  • Surfaces and works with resistance to your own goals.
  • Uses unexpected, even unwanted change as a resource to craft a more engaging life.
  • Provides space for creative thinking, in which you are honored, challenged, and held accountable.
  • Improves your relationship with yourself and others.
  • Offers the opportunity to enjoy an authentic, high-trust relationship with a skilled and committed individual, who shares your interest in you.

Who can be coached?

Anyone who is ready for change, with a desire to get unstuck or move faster toward a goal, is a potential candidate for coaching. Unlike a casual conversation, coaching travels the terrain of thoughts and feelings with a powerful intention: to move you in the direction of living your deepest values and cherished dreams. Coaching will help you sort out and organize issues and options, understand yourself better, and move beyond your fear of change. It is future-focused, task-oriented, and depends upon your commitment to your own agenda and the coaching process.

What are some examples of goals or challenges that are "coachable"? 

 Following is a sampling of concerns that are coachable: 

  • I am unclear about how to discover or live my purpose  
  • A difficult relationship is in a stuck place and draining my energy
  • I feel insecure about my lifeGroup Leadership skills
  • My life is out of balance and I am out of gas
  • I am in a transition and need support and a plan
  • I don't know where to being in growing in my faith? Where do I start?
  • I am afraid to engage in a spiritual conversation with my neighbor.

Do I have to be a member of the Church to qualify for coaching?

No. If a coach is available, we are happy to support you.

Is there a cost?

There is no monetary cost to you. You and your coach are both making an investment of time and effort, with the expectation that the return on investment will be the realization of your goals. Depending upon the availability of our coaches when you call, there may be a waiting period for coaching support.

If I do my part, what can I expect from the coaching experience?

Individuals who engage in effective coaching report renewed hope and belief in their abilities to dream and do. Through the coaching process, you take concrete steps toward critical goals, explore new ways of thinking and being, and develop new levels of self-awareness and self-appreciation. You will connect your dreams to real-world opportunities, road-test ideas and new behaviors, and collaborate with your coach to tweak your strategy. Resistance to change will be recognized, appreciated, and progressively diminished, losing power over time to derail or further delay your most meaningful goals.

Are coaches like accountability partners?

Coaches do not operate like traditional accountability partners, unless you make that request of them, and they agree to the responsibility. Making decisions and taking action remains your exclusive responsibility during the coaching relationship. However, a coach may challenge your thinking, make an observation about the lack of alignment between your intentions and actions, or help you explore how you could be more accountable to your plan and goals.

How is coaching different from Stephen Ministry?

Stephen Ministers are organized around Christ-centered caregiving, especially during periods of crisis, profound loss, and deep disappointment. Coaches are experts in the change process, and provide focused, action-oriented support for both small shifts and life-altering initiatives. Both coaching and Stephen Ministry share skill sets, like active listening and maintaining a focus on feelings. Both share an approach to supporting people in a non-judgmental, accepting, and confidential way.

A key difference is that Stephen Ministers have a process orientation, and focus on the present moment through the frame of reference of the Care Receiver. In contrast, coaches focus on process and results, and support movement from current state to preferred future. A coach will, if appropriate, challenge the beliefs and assumptions underlying your frame of reference, to uncover the resistance you may unknowingly have to your own goals.

How is coaching different from counseling or therapy?

A coach works in the here and now, and focuses on the future. A counselor or therapist works to bring a person out of his or her past to a productive present. It is not uncommon for a person to be in a longer-term relationship with a counselor or therapist, and seek out the short-term help of a coach for a specific goal.

If I am depressed, is coaching appropriate?

That depends. Periods of sadness and uncertainty are normal for any human being. We move through chapters and transitions during our lifetimes, and between the letting go of the old and the taking on of the new, it is normal to feel adrift, without direction, energy, or enthusiasm. Coaches are familiar with the territory we call "the nowhere between two somewheres," and can help you find meaning in your loss of momentum.

When you feel stuck, it can often be easier to describe what isn't working and what you don't want. During the course of a coaching engagement, you gain clarity about what you do want. As you articulate your thoughts and feelings in response to coaching questions, you discover what keeps you stuck.

If you are experiencing debilitating depression, anxiety, or any emotional instability that seems unrelated to a reasonable and customary life transition, please consult a mental health professional for diagnosis and potential treatment.

Does a coach work like a consultant?

Consulting is typically about providing answers, solutions, action steps, and training for a particular problem. Coaching is about assisting a person to identify and build their own solutions and action steps. A consultant has knowledge and experience building solutions for situations similar to a client's specific problem, and offers advice based on that history. A coach draws out solutions to problems from the client's own expertise, values, and desires, and works through resistance they may have to change.

What is the difference between a mentor and a coach?

A mentor is typically seasoned in the role or situation of concern to the novice, and shares learnings and offers guidance harvested from their own past experiences. A coach brings value not by having lived through a similar scenario to yours, but by using a process and skills to help you tap into your inherent strengths, values, and creativity, generating an abundance of new possibilities that are right for you.

Mentoring relationships can last for years; coaching relationships are contracted for specific periods of time. Many people access both a mentor and a coach for support in challenging times.

How is a coaching session different from talking with a friend, family member, or colleague?

A  coach works from the premise that you are the expert, and invites the wisdom of your inner sage. However trusted, sincere, and well-intentioned they may be, family members and friends may want to rescue you, cheerlead you, or tough-love you into the course of action they see as best. They are connected to you, and because your decisions can have consequences for them, they may understandably have their own agenda for you. A coach comes to the relationship without an agenda, other than a commitment to your goals, and with the skills to help you see what's in your way.

Why doesn't a coach just tell me what to do?

OK, let's say your goal is to lose 25 pounds. Here's the action plan: Eat less, move more. When a weight loss consultant tells you exactly what to do, or a helpful friend or mentor tells you exactly how they ate less and moved more, you applaud them outwardly but reject their plan internally. You may implement a few tips, but you know in your bones that their advice is applicable only to them. You are different, your history is different, your habits are different, your hardwiring is different. The problem is not what to do…it's discovering and working with the resistance you have to what you say you want. Coaches help people discover the answers that lie within, make the best possible choices, and succeed on their own terms.

What qualifies a coach to give me advice, shouldn't people be able to solve their own problems?

With coaching, you do solve your own problems. A coaching relationship provides focused support, a way to think and speak about those problems with a person trained to ask and listen for your best answers. Together, you map and travel a path forward that comes from your own wisdom.

How do I know if coaching is the right approach for me? How do I know if my issue is "coachable"?

Coaching is the right approach for the achievement of small improvements, as well as significant, longer-term life goals. It facilitates life-enhancing attitudes, habits, and thinking, uncovering resistance that may be keeping you stuck. In general, if you want focused, relatively short-term support to achieve a goal, develop a new vision for your life, create a strategy for a difficult situation, or to simply get out of your own way, coaching can help.

If you are faced with the ongoing management of a chronic situation, outside of your influence to change, or are in survival mode—coping, grieving, hurting—a Stephen Minister is the right choice. If you need to heal emotional wounds, discover answers to your "why" questions, or suspect that you may have a diagnosable mental illness, a counselor or therapist is the right choice. If you need specific training or advice, seek a consultant, mentor, or an expert in that arena.

Amy Meyer and Lynn Schoener can help you determine, in a confidential conversation, whether coaching is the right approach for you at this time.

How do I know if I am ready for coaching?

If you can answer "Yes" to these questions, you are ready for coaching:

  • Are you seeking personal growth or progress toward an important goal?
  • Are you motivated to change, rather than defend "the way things are"?
  • Are you willing to be honest with yourself and transparent with your coach?
  • Will you commit to regular coaching sessions?
  • Will you show up prepared?

I could use the support of a coach to help me manage my time better, but shouldn't I wait until things aren't so busy?

Hmmm…when might that be?

What if I begin coaching and want to quit?

Be respectful of your coach by communicating that you want to wrap up. Don't stay in the coaching engagement to protect your coach's feelings. They value authenticity, and will release you with love. There is a right time for change, and the time may not be right for you.

I am not comfortable sharing private information. Is coaching confidential?

Yes. Rest assured that the content of your coaching conversations are held in confidence by your coach. You are encouraged to share that you are being coached, and by whom. You are encouraged to give permission to your coach to share, when asked, that they are working with you. But the content of your discussions stays between the two of you.

If I want to be coached, what do I do?

Your first option is to reach out to Amy Meyer, lifeGroup Director, for a referral to the right coach for you. You may also connect with a coach directly—their profiles and contact info are on the website. Call or e-mail them to discuss their current availability and to schedule an initial meeting.

How do I choose the right coach for me?

The "click factor" in a coaching relationship is an essential success factor. You may want to interview several coaches to determine the right fit—someone with whom you can be transparent, open, and honest. Amy Meyer can suggest a coach or guide you in making a selection. The Coaching Profiles [click here] on the website may assist you in narrowing your options.

I am friends with several of the coaches…should I work with someone else so we don't muddy the friendship waters?

Coaching is a skill set and a role, not an identity. Ideally, everyone would be able to put the coaching hat on at a moment's notice to help another get unstuck and move forward. If you can be authentic and open with your friend in a coach role, and work together within the coaching process on your goal, your friend could be a good choice.

If you are concerned that your friend will exit the friendship and assume a coach persona for the remainder of your relationship, don't be. Coaches know how to navigate the coach/friend boundary. Depending on the goal or challenge and your history, a friend may not be the best coach for you. If you prefer to work with someone you know less well, that is completely understandable and easily arranged.

What if I begin with one coach and decide I want a different coach?

If the fit is not feeling right for you, it is likely not feeling right for your coach either. Amy Meyer can support the transition to a different coach. It is helpful if you share your concerns with your coach early on, so that they can make changes to better support you. But if the "click factor" is missing, everybody benefits when the change is made. No hard feelings or awkward explanations necessary, we promise.

How are coaches selected?

Coaches are invited from the pool of leaders at the Church.

Can I become a coach?

If you wish to be considered, please contact Amy Meyer.

Meet Lynn

As a coach and consultant to organizations in transition, Lynn Schoener works with leaders to develop coaching cultures and improve employee satisfaction, team performance, and engagement. Her coaching work with individuals is designed to help them through the challenging times that we all face in life from time to time. Learn More...

 

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