Humility – A Coach’s Most Effective Characteristic

A Blog Post By Bill Copper

I’m sitting on the plane next to a bully. I had a different name, but I realize the context within which many of you are reading this post. (If you’re curious, the name I first thought of has two words. First word starts with J. Second word starts with A).

I have been flying quite a bit for the past couple of years, and as a result I am in good standing with the airline – which means I get upgraded to first class with some regularity. Far and away, most of the people I meet in first class are sweet, humble, interesting, and gracious. While my own upbringing may have given me a negative assumption about those who sit in first class, I’ve found that assumption to be largely false.

90% of Success is Just Showing Up

Blog Post by Brian Miller

Ethan flicked his strawberry blonde hair with a quick head jerk to the right. He wanted to be able to see clearly as his body slipped into the weight machine. Exercise had never been his thing. He was a band geek, and band geeks were exempt from High School P.E. But there he sat, getting ready to push some weights and put some definition into his gangly arms.

I’ve worked out off and on all my life. Exercise will be a focus for a while, then I will achieve a good chunk of my goal, and then something else will take my focus. Exercise will drop away without fanfare. After my dad died in December, the grief was overwhelming, stronger than I had ever felt before. I knew that exercise was going to be needed to exorcise some of this grief.

By the grace of God, I connected with Pastor Bill who also needed some exercise. He was getting married at the beginning of summer and wanted to be a bit healthier as he entered this new bliss. Bill introduced me to the weight machines at the local YMCA. I hadn’t lifted a weight since high school, but the companionship was agreeable, and the weights reduced my grief. This worked great until April.

Bill’s ministry revolves around Community Gardens. Guess what happened in the Spring? Bill didn’t want to go to the Y as much as before. The gardens were calling him! Through a coaching session, the aha came. Since Bill had partnered with me and showed me the ropes, I would partner with someone else and give them the same gift. I just wasn’t sure who. I limped along alone for a month.

Our 15-year-old son Ethan was out of school for summer. My hope was not high, but I asked Ethan if he would want to start working out with me. I needed a new partner. I thought about what obstacles would get in the way. My focus can sometimes have a laser cutting effect. I can be a little too intense. As Ethan showed some initial interest, I laid out our goal. We would “show up” to the YMCA 30 times. We would shoot for 3 times per week.

As Ethan sat locked in to the weight machine, hair flicked to the left, he was unsure of himself and what he should expect. I asked him, “What’s our goal?” He looked at me and smiled. “Show up.” Then he began his 10-repetition set. This has taken away all the pressure to perform. The reason I’ve lost focus from exercising over the years is that my goal has always been to perform. Run in less time. Do more pushups than before. Lose more weight. But now my goal is much simpler. “Show up.”

Am I sure this is going to get me through one solid year of exercising? I have no idea. I do know that in year’s past I would have grown bored with this routine by now. Having a partner is helpful. Ethan and I always work hard when we go. Bill and I were the same. There is just enough competitiveness in the room to push a little harder. I’ll need to a new partner when school starts in August. Maybe Bill will be finishing up in the garden.

When you coach a client in an area where they have repeatedly started and stopped, challenge them to find a new goal, a new perspective. Take your client’s mind to a new perspective where the actions she desires are as regular as eating lunch. I always “show up” for lunch. Build in the accountability required to lock the activity into place for at least a year. A partner. A reward. A punishment.

We’re often told 30 days builds a habit. That has not been my experience. A habit isn’t just an action we repeat. It is a new way of life. Habits aren’t measured. Habits just “show up.”

Coach Yourself as you Coach Others….do’s and don’ts for maximizing your coaching sessions

A Blog Post by Bill Copper

One of the unique characteristics of a coaching relationship – as distinct from other helping relationships – is the opportunity for the coach to learn and grow in the process of helping clients learn and grow. In most other helping relationships the “provider” of services is leveraging her/his superior experience, knowledge, or training to help the other person move forward, with little or no thought the how he/she could benefit from the relationship beyond gaining additional experience.

In contrast, coaching ASSUMES the coach is a co-learner in the process. Coaching, by its very nature, leads to growing and learning opportunities for the coach AND the client. One of the great joys of coaching someone else is the benefit I receive in my own personal growth. And when I’m open to, and expectant of, new learning and growth for myself, I always find it!

So…if it’s not only acceptable, but EXPECTED that you will learn and grow personally while you’re coaching someone else to do the same…what are some things to look out for? How do you maintain my primary purpose of helping your client move forward, while expecting to do the same yourself?

Why Knowing All About Your Client’s Topic Is a Coach’s Biggest Challenge

A Blog Post by Chad Hall

Okay, so maybe this isn’t a coach’s biggest challenge, but it’s at least in the Top 10 for many of us: coaching a topic we know a lot about.

For new coaches, this might sound very counter-intuitive. After all, it seems like a far bigger challenge would come from coaching on a topic you know nothing about. It’s true that coaching on an unfamiliar topic has its own challenges (maybe we’ll cover that in a separate post). But too much knowledge can be far worse than not enough. Here are three reasons why:

  • Reduced Listening. Since our brains are incredible pattern-matching machines, your coaching brain wants to match your client’s topic to what you already know, which reduces your natural openness and curiosity. It’s hard to listen when you’re busy matching what’s being said to what you already know. And your listening really gets reduced when your brain finds big bucket of knowledge to match with your client’s topic.
  • Inferior Questions. When you know what has worked for you (or someone else), it’s hard to un-know this. Your storehouse of knowledge influences the type and quality of questions you hear. While you might avoid asking outright leading questions, your coaching questions risk being flavored by the solution you’ve already experienced.
  • Lack of Presence. One of the most powerful things about coaching is the way a coach shows up — fully present with the client and responding holistically to what is happening right here, right now. If you know too much about the topic, it’s easy to get distracted by all the other clients who’ve dealt with this topic or by your own experience. You’ll not only lose focus, but you’ll lose the connection to the client.

So how does a coach meet this difficult challenge?