God’s Wake-up Call: A Call to Coach

CoachingCoachTen years ago, God set His alarm clock and woke me up to the reality that I’d lived on autopilot for so long it seemed there was nothing left of me. I had forgotten who I was. I had settled for doing what seemed right rather than being who He created me to be. I felt as if every mind-numbing insurance form and patient account detail that crossed my desk in my husband’s chiropractic practice sucked a little more life out of me. That emptiness was the price of sleepwalking through life.

What did Jesus use to open my eyes and bring me back to the land of the living? The bottom line was the power of Christ-centered coaching combined with praying the Word.

That morning as I watched the fog lift over the mountains from the deck of our log home, my thoughts also cleared. God then gave me a mental checklist that would work for me:

  • Hire an experienced coach. Check.
  • Rediscover how God has wired me and choose to be fully me, fully alive. Check.
  • Take personal responsibility for operating within my temperament, strengths, and gifting as much as it is up to me. Check.
  • Set powerful goals that are within my ability and right to control. Check.
  • Take action steps that line up with who I am and what is important to me. Check.
  • Fully participate in professional Christian coach training to hone my own coaching skills. Check.
  • Immerse myself in a community of coaches who affirm and value me and what I am called to do. Check.
  • Be conscious of and honor how others are wired. Check.
  • Talk their language. Check.
  • Pass it on so others can take it and run with it. Check.

I began with the first item on my check list and hired professional coach Christopher McCluskey. My approach to the “Vicki Packet” he requested before our first session was eye-opening in itself. I prepared a three-ring binder full of both formal and informal assessments of my strengths and weaknesses, letters of recommendation from successful jobs as well as a job lost, creative project photos, and transcripts.

My ears perked up at my coach’s words: “Wow, this really is a re-discovery process for you!” Over time, his powerful questions drew out the purpose of my heart, which lined up with my own Myers-Briggs results: to make a difference in creative and insightful ways that help people grow.

Judy Santos, who launched the Christian Coaches Network in 1998, warned me one week, saying, “You can’t hit a home run every time, Vicki!” and the next week, said, “You’re the best I’ve ever seen at this temperament-based coaching.” Her affirmation deepened my sense of calling to facilitate this process of cooperating with God’s design for those who are ready and coachable.

My coaches’ respectful, honest, and challenging feedback, as well as opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone to serve as a faculty member in the world of professional Christian coaching, came with the opportunity to say “Yes,” “No,” or “Renegotiate.” I am honored they saw the real me in spite of my struggles and welcomed me warmly into their community of coaching colleagues.

This dynamic process accomplished God’s life-giving work in me. These days, “Fully You, Fully Alive” is more than my tag line; it is a recurring theme through my life coaching, mentor coaching, and retreat coaching, all of which are temperament-based.

What’s my powerful goal? To be just plain Vicki with Christ as my life, to be the best Christian coach God will have me be, and as much as it depends on me, to help others live out their unique God-given purpose in a way that brings them life and Him glory.

God knew I needed an experienced, competent coach who cared enough to focus on my agenda; to be fully present in co-creating our relationship of trust and intimacy; to communicate effectively through deep listening, powerful questions, and direct communication; and to encourage my personal responsibility for doing the work that would give the greatest sense of progress between sessions.

These are the basic coaching competencies we need to practice and demonstrate with such a high standard of excellence that we are then freed up to bring our own essence and being into the conversation. I am confident that as we join in community with other experienced Christian coaches, our clients will be better served, our collective vision will be strengthened, and God will be glorified.

How I approach coaching is personalized to most effectively draw out clients of various personality styles, strengths, and preferences. Your insights into what motivates your client (what to say “Yes” to) as well as potential Achilles heels (what to self-manage) can be invaluable in your shaping powerful questions to help your clients achieve awareness in their lives and figure out how they can realize their dreams. I’ve learned that what I needed as a client plays an important role in what I am inspired to give my coaching clients and my students in the Essentials of Coaching classes, Coaching Skills Development practicum, and Coaching Skills Mastery practicum I teach.

My way of organizing my first packet stands out in sharp contrast to how some of my clients handle their initial packets. Scribbled notes and goals presented on a napkin immediately before a coaching session don’t necessarily show lack of motivation but speak volumes about the need to take into account individualized approaches and styles.

For me, an extrovert, I enjoy the give and take of a coaching session with interactive conversation where we can brainstorm and launch new, challenging pursuits. I find this even more energizing than drinking a steaming hot cup of coffee.

I thank God for His gracious wake-up call. He took what I needed to learn, combined it with my strengths and preferences, and turned it into a blessing that goes beyond all I could ask or imagine in my second half of life.

Coaching the Coach Tip

In addition to opening my eyes so many years ago, God also opened my ears before I could open my mouth as a coach. So when meeting with clients, I keep in mind the acronym ACT, which will also help you as a coach:

  • Be Aware of how you, the coach, are wired. What energizes you? How do you take in information? How do you prefer to make decisions? How do you like to approach your world?
  • Be Conscious of how your clients are wired. What energizes them? How do they take in information? How do they prefer to make decisions? How do they like to approach their world?
  • Talk your client’s language. How can you communicate in ways that show you understand what’s important to them? What will draw out the purposes of his or her heart? What word pictures would take the conversation to a deeper, more meaningful level?

When you begin to talk your client’s language, you will discover new ways to coach in the two major areas that potentially drain people the most. The first area is unresolved conflict, and the second is operating outside of their strengths, temperament, and gifting. If you can help a client address these two areas, you energize each one to pursue true passions and bring added value to the coaching relationship. It pays to respond to God’s wake-up call!

TAKE IT AND RUN WITH IT


  • What is God impressing on you in this season of your life?
  • How will you respond to His wake-up call?

Please feel free to share your thoughts to encourage others. Click on the speech bubble above to leave a reply…

Feel God’s Pleasure

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” ~ Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire

This little man I sculpted out of clay several years ago is not fully alive. He has no life in him and no ability to do anything. Yet, the mere fact that I created him brings me pleasure. When I hold him in my hand, I can’t help but smile.

You are probably familiar with Eric Liddell’s story from Chariots of Fire. It is such a great example of living out your God-given purpose and bringing Him pleasure in the process that we use it as an example when  teaching Essentials of Coaching to those who are training to become life coaches.

Check out this video clip to be inspired by the kind of picture that really is worth a thousand words… and ponder what it means for you at this time. It can be a valuable three and a half minutes for you as well as for anyone you choose to share it with… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPB7r0UpNIE   (excerpted from Chariots of Fire 1981; Eric Liddell: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure”.)

TAKE IT AND RUN WITH IT


  • Now what about you? As far as you know at this time, who did God design you to be?
  • What did God design you to do that, as you do it, you feel His pleasure?
  • What does this mean for you in your current season of life?

Please feel free to share your thoughts to encourage others. Click on the speech bubble above to leave a reply…

 

New Season

It’s a new season, and I’m ready to set powerful goals. But sometimes the first step forward is a step back. I recently took  a trip down memory lane to reflect on times past when God has graciously allowed simple truth to impact me in profound ways. Now I am ready to forge ahead toward the dreams and hopes He has placed in my heart for the future. What about you?

In spite of being married to a great guy, living in a great house on the ridge, developing great friends, even seeing great results in women’s ministry and our private practice, etc., I had stopped answering for myself the birthday question I reserved for everyone else, “What are your hopes and dreams for the coming year?” I guess this was my version of a mid-life crisis at age 50.

After living in the disillusionment of unrealized possibilities for far too long, I began to wonder what would bring me back to life.  What future was so compelling that I would move forward with passion?  God only knew but I was determined to find out.

When the First Step Forward is a Step Back

Sometimes the first step forward is a step back.  A necessary trip down memory lane reminded me of birthdays past when God had graciously allowed simple truth to impact me in profound ways.

  • As I looked into the little man’s face I had carefully sculpted out of clay, I remembered my delight in his creation and began to imagine the delight I may have brought to God who formed me and breathed His very life into me.
  • As I dusted off the box of framed works of art, I remembered the day I sat at my dining room table and cried while opening my friend’s gift and reading “God danced the day you were born!” perhaps believing it for the first time.
  • As I stood on my deck overlooking the mountains and enjoyed that evening’s sunset, I remembered being in Aruba and boldly asking God for a sunset for my birthday.  At first His answer to my prayer seemed quite unremarkable, a nice sunset, nothing to write home about but a short while later, when I was no longer expecting it, He blew me away with a sky that looked as though it were on fire! He was still in the business of doing above and beyond all I could ask or imagine, but not necessarily in my timing.

Powerful Goals for the New Season

As I approach my 60th birthday, having invested myself in coaching that is biblically based, Christ-centered, and bathed in prayer for the past ten years (in being coached myself, in being equipped to coach others, and training others to coach with excellence) I’m in an altogether new season. I love facilitating an insightful and creative process that makes a difference in people’s lives. It’s what I am motivated to do and an integral part of who God created me to be.

I am grateful but I am also very much aware of the need to reflect and set my mind on the Truth of what God says regardless of how I feel… something I never outgrow.

  • I am valued, loved, and accepted. It’s settled by God so I don’t have to earn it and no one else has to prove it. It is a grace gift I can choose to receive, unwrap, and share over and over again.
  • No one can keep me from being who God created me to be or doing what God calls me to do.
  • My hopes and dreams matter and I need to put them into action, as much as it’s up to me, in order to realize the possibilities.

So, what are my hopes and dreams for the coming year? I want to make time to…

  • Enjoy the simple things in life as well as the big things
  • Show more love to my family and friends in meaningful ways
  • Continue on this path of learning and growing in grace as God leads.

And since these are all up to me, they go beyond wishful thinking to become powerful goals!

TAKE IT AND RUN WITH IT


  • Now how about you? Whatever your age, what Truth do you need to accept in order to be free to move forward?
  • What future would be so compelling for you that you could move forward with passion?
  • What hope or dream (vision) do you need to put into action to realize the possibilities?
  • What support do you need to actually do it?

Life on Purpose

Life coaches help people discover their life’s vision, purpose, mission, and goals. Use this self-coaching exercise to begin to uncover yours.

Since specific requests have come in for this to be in writing, here’s an analogy using simple kitchen nesting bowls as food for thought. May God use it to help you discover and refine your vision, your purpose, and your mission here on earth. Judy Santos, a mentor, colleague and close friend, first shared this with me nearly 10 years ago. Since then it has been a litmus test of what to say yes to when I remember to be intentional and a useful tool for many life coach training students. I don’t know its original source so I am passing it on to you in memory of Judy who I miss terribly.

VISION

This is a brief overall statement… all else needs to be compatible with it (Largest bowl).

  • A specific compelling image of the future that you hold
  • The big picture result you want to see
  • The legacy you want to leave

PURPOSE

This is a brief statement that captures who you are and your part in bringing your vision to life.

  • Your calling
  • The underlying reason for being that gives your life meaning
  • Your answer to the question “Why am I here on earth?”
  • Your “being”, the essence of who you are. (“Doing” then flows out of this.)

MISSION

Many things can be included as ways to operationalize what is important to you but they must all be compatible with your purpose and help make your vision possible.

  • The particular ways you choose to fulfill your purpose in any given season
  • Your “doing”
  • “How” you will live out your purpose

GOALS

What specific tasks need to be done and when they need to be done to actually accomplish your mission(s) in real life? Must be compatible with and contained within the mission, purpose, and vision. (Smallest bowl)

  • “Dreams with a timeline for putting them into action”
  • S.M.A.R.T.– specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive
  • Goals need to be “as much as it depends on you”, within your ability and right to control. Goals apart from serving your mission or contingent on circumstances and people beyond you will be just a to-do list… not powerful goals.

Check back next week when I’ll illustrate this exercise by sharing my life’s vision, purpose, mission, and goals.

*Nesting bowl image courtesy of J. King. Used with permission.

TAKE IT AND RUN WITH IT


  • Now what about you? What would “Life on Purpose” look like for you?
  • How would you benefit from prayerfully drafting your own vision, purpose and mission statements?
  • What support do you need to put in place to make it happen?

Be a Good Steward of Your Gift and Story

A letter from God that explains why in the world I would start writing a blog at this point in my life… after procrastinating for years…

“Be a good steward of your gift. Be a good steward of your story. These are not separate entities but two facets of stewardship. You are a spark of energy. That spark requires air, the freely moving breath of God at the right time and in the right amount to ignite and cause you to be on fire. Your gift of exhortation can be fanned into flames as you exercise the discipline of writing.

Through your own story and the Truth that God has revealed in your own life regardless of how you felt, you can come alongside many. You can stimulate their faith and affirm them in the ways others have affirmed you (or maybe even more importantly, as you hoped they would.) This will involve doing a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given and then sinking yourself into that. It will be God-breathed and you’ll love it even when it is difficult at times.

Don’t waste time on those wanting only temporary solutions. Don’t waste your energy on those who are not interested in being encouraged in grace. Be on the lookout for those who are open to your gift and who can benefit from your story. I AM the Lord your God. I will bring them across your path at just the right time. Seize the opportunity.

Your writing will crystallize for you the areas of practical application of My Word and will be a way of creating tools others can use to take it and run with it. As I told you many years ago, back when you thought I meant to write at that time, don’t worry about the details of how this will all come together. I have been working this process of encouragement out in your life for years and now’s the time for you to capture it before it eludes you again.

Look through your Bible for significant scriptures and dates. Intentionally bring back to your mind key concepts that have gotten you through tough times. Listen to your own testimony. People will relate to you in your struggles and benefit from your experience with Me. I will encourage them through you. The weight of it is on Me… and I can handle it.

You have seen me do this through you as you sink yourself into coaching, teaching, and group facilitation. You really have experienced being fully alive as we’ve partnered together. Now do you dare to believe that we can do this together? Remember that I went to great heights and depths to reclaim this plunder from the enemy for this very purpose… so you can use your gift to make a difference through insightful and creative ideas. Leave no room for doubt. People will grow as a result. They will move forward with Me. I will be glorified and you will be fulfilled. Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged by a perceived or anticipated lack of results. That particular harvest is up to Me and I truly believe you will be pleasantly surprised at what I can do with just plain Vicki fully surrendered to Me.”

With a letter from God like that, how can I not do this blog?

TAKE IT AND RUN WITH IT


  • Now what about you? What action are you inspired to take to be a good steward of your gift and your story?
  • What support do you need to put into place to make it happen… as much as it is up to you?

Let’s put our vision into action and enjoy this harvest together!