Coaching the Road Less Traveled

A Blog Post by Brian Miller

 

The last sentence of Robert Frost’s famous poem concludes:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

It is a beautiful sentiment. It is romantic. It promises glory and depth and fulfillment. People who take this road equally inspire us and make us nervous. We are never impressed with the obituary that read, “She never took any chances.”

At the same time, we need to consider the words of another philosopher of our time. Kid President speaks of the consequences of such journeys such as Frost’s:

“And it hurt man! Really bad. Rocks! Thorns! Glass! My pants broke! Not cool Robert Frost!”

There is no way to make the less traveled road safe. It will hurt, but is there a way we can take that path with at least some promise that it won’t lead us to a wrecked life, as sometimes it does.

Two Examples of Less Traveled Roads

I recently read about two pastors who both chose less traveled roads about twenty to thirty years ago and recently ended their journeys in unexpected places.

One man, Joshua Harris, was a bright, conscientious, home-schooled kid who as he entered adulthood wanted to glorify God in how he courted a woman to be his wife. He wanted his courtship to be pure and holy. So he made a less traveled declaration. Rather than just promising chastity before marriage, he would also promise not to kiss, hold hands, be alone with a woman, or even create too much intimacy through conversation. He wrote his manifesto in what became a popular book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Thousands of people embraced this concept.

Another man, Craig Gross, was a youth pastor who found many of his students struggling with impurity outside of dating relationships. They were addicted to porn. He and a friend decided to start a ministry to put an internet barrier between teenagers and pornography, but they also took a road less traveled. They began reaching out to the producers of pornography — directors, actors, and videographers. They hoped to appear like Jesus (Luke 7:38), comfortable with people who were enmeshed in the seedier side of humanity and embracing them as people, even friends, rather than criminals. Many were skeptical about this approach.

You Can Be More Curious

A Blog Post by David Cooke

 

The modern proverb “Curiosity killed the cat” showed up on the scene in the late 1800’s. It was a warning against investigating too deeply into things. If you didn’t heed this wisdom, it was going to kill you! That’s a pretty dire warning.

But when it comes to coaching, curiosity is the key.

Having an attitude of curiosity is essential to being an engaged coach. When we are genuinely curious about the person we are coaching, it communicates and it creates connection. At its core, curiosity is about being focused on the other person and not on yourself. If you have a mindset of curiosity about the person you are in conversation with, it is difficult to be focused on yourself. One of the reasons curiosity creates connection is because everyone likes to have someone take an interest in our lives! There’s a little narcissist in all of us. And as a good coach, you know it is all about the client and their agenda. Being curious about the person you’re coaching keeps the focus on them and not on you.

Coaching Rules Gone Too Far

A Blog Post by Chad Hall

 

Lately, I’ve noticed people are afraid of the word “me.” I don’t mean they are concerned about narcissism or they are anti-self in some deep, ontological way. No, I’ve noticed people literally avoid saying the word me, and will conduct grammatical loop de loop maneuvers to evade this two-letter terror. For example: “The teacher told Bobby and I about the incident.”

Why the fear of me? My theory is that the perpetrators have been so conditioned against using me as the subject in a sentence (“Bobby and me asked the teacher a question.”) that they mistakenly believe it’s wrong to use me as the object in a sentence. The fact that it sounds dumb to say, “Shelly and me went to the park” leads them to think it sounds smart to say things like, “The waitress brought menus to my spouse and I.” It doesn’t. The good news is that breaking this grammar rule only offends me and 5% of the general population. If you want to know more about the rules of I vs. Me, check out this page.

Okay, enough grammar police. Why bring this up in a coaching blog? Because the unwarranted fear of me is a great example of taking a seemingly good thing too far. Coaches have to be on the lookout for misapplication of rules, otherwise, our coaching is less smart and more dumb. Here are three common coaching rules that can go too far.

Client In an Anxious System

A Blog Post by Chad Hall

 

Rita came into a recent coaching session in an emotional low boil. She was frustrated, a bit angry, and somewhat scared. Why? Because the day before she’d experienced an awful meeting with her supervisor – someone fairly new to the organization who’d made it his business to micro-manage her every move.

Rita’s supervisor wanted to know why she’d paid so much for parking on a recent company trip. Why did she choose to stay in a hotel instead of leaving her house at 5 AM for a 9 AM meeting? Why had she “dumped” so much detail work on the administrative staff? He was second-guessing and disapproving of all sorts of behaviors that she’d practiced for nearly two decades with the organization.

Rita confessed that working with her new supervisor was like an unending trip to the principal’s office.

Rita’s experience is all too common. The dynamic that boiled her emotions and depleted her motivation is best described as an “anxious system.”