One thing that initially attracted me to coaching was its application for spiritual growth. Coaching is a powerful tool for helping people grow stronger as they live out the Christian life and part of this power stems from the fact that coaching naturally makes space for what might be called “both/and thinking.” Instead of falling into the trap of either/or thinking, coaching expands our capacity to discover ways to embrace what appear to be opposites. The Christian life is marked by many such dynamic tensions, one of which is our calling to live with intention and live in relation. I’d like to explore how coaching can help us (and others) live well into both of these realities, but first let’s define what we mean by relation and intention.
Recently I had a coaching client share something surprising. We were following up on a coaching relationship that had concluded nearly six months ago when she revealed, “If it hadn’t been for our coaching, I would have left the company.”
Did I mention that I was surprised? To be honest, during our coaching relationship (which only lasted three months), she gave zero indication that she was thinking of quitting. I told her that I didn’t know that and asked her how the coaching helped. What she said next wasn’t so surprising because I’ve heard similar sentiments from many, many coaching clients through the years – my own as well as clients who worked with other coaches.
In this post, I’d like to share with you some helpful insights related to issuing a challenge to your client. A challenge is an idea you (the coach) come up with that you suggest to your client.
Let me start with a recent example.
A few weeks ago I was coaching a young lady on the topic of moving across the United States. She was trying to decide whether to move from the Bay Area of California to Nashville, Tennessee. The conversation unfolded like one of those old-fashioned paper maps, with new layers revealing additional issues, complexities and factors to consider. No wonder she was having a tough time making the decision.
As the conversation progressed, the client and I both noticed that her thought process was a jumbled mix of brainstorming and evidence gathering. That is, she was quickly switching gears back and forth between brainstorming future scenarios that would make the move a good or bad idea and noticing the evidence she needed to gather in order to make her decision. For a while she’d spin scenarios about how this could work and then some scenarios about how this could be a dumb idea, and then she’d talk for a while about her need to research job opportunities and housing costs.
Coaches have to fail in public. We don’t have the luxury of failing where no one will see. We fail in front of a client, a group, or a team. And because of the publicness of our failure, we try not to fail. We take fewer chances. We decide not to dance in the moment. We ask risk-free questions and make risk-free observations.