Blog Post: Find an Idea Out of Nowhere


Often people don’t have any idea what coaching is.  If I talk about coaching, they start to nod their heads, but don’t make much of a connection.  But when I demo coaching, I see eyes light up.  “Oh!  That’s what coaching is!  That’s really useful!”

I was at a conference teaching a workshop on coaching (contact me if you’d like me to teach a workshop at your conference).  At the end, I asked for a volunteer to be coached.  This is often when people decide to break eye contact.  But there is always one brave soul.

I asked Brandon a question.  What is your next step with Jesus?  This is a very open ended question.  The answers you get to this question are really interesting.  I’d encourage you to start asking this question.  And then listen.

Brandon said, “I’ve started gathering various people in the community to start working together on projects.”

“Wow!”  “That’s awesome.  I think that’s so important.”

Brandon didn’t give me much observable feedback.  That can make coaching tough when you’re looking at a blank face.

“What struggles are you having with this gathering?”

Brandon knew the answer.  “When we first gather, everyone stays in their own little cliques until we officially get started.  I’d like for them to start mixing as soon as they arrive.”

“That would be great.  What ideas do you have to accomplish this?”

“None.  That’s why I volunteered.”

It was a powerful “No.”  It was a discouraging “No.”  This is where it is tempting to feel responsible for finding your client an answer.

I often start to pray, “God give me a powerful question to get Brandon‘s brain fired up.”

“When have you been part of a group that created interaction right off the bat?”

He still had that look of “No” on his face, but he was thinking.  When you get a person thinking, stay quiet.  Let them think.

Brandon shocked me and everyone in the room.  “You mean like in college when you had pre-assignment interactions.”  I don’t remember his exact words, but his words were very specific and a light had come on.

“Wow!  Yes.  How could you create some pre-assignment interactions?”  Notice, I didn’t ask “What are pre-assignment interactions?”  It was important that he knew, not that I knew.

He was thinking again.  That’s a really good sign.  Silence often means you are succeeding.

“Well, I could email them a pre-assignment that would require them to interact with others in the room as soon as they arrive.”

Here is where I made a mistake.  I tweaked his idea.  As much as you want to help brainstorm, a coach shouldn’t participate in the brainstorm.

I asked, “Could you just give them the pre-assignment as they walked in the door so you didn’t have to worry about them getting the email and printing it?”  I was trying to help.  Instead I slowed down his thinking.

We got back on track, and he brainstormed some more great ideas.  I was impressed.

At the end, I asked, “What was your big takeaway?” 

He recounted his first idea without my tweak!  I had to laugh.  It was a great demonstration of what not to do.  But we had fired up his thinking with powerful coaching questions.

What lights up your brain?  What gets you thinking?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *