Category Archives: personal growth

4 Ways Coaching Is Like Good Jazz!

optimized-maxW950-jazz4I started playing the trumpet 50 years ago! While I’m a better classical trumpet player (I prefer playing from sheet music), I’ve always liked listening to jazz. It’s one of the truly American music forms. Recently, I discovered that listening to jazz actually makes me a better coach. Here’s how.

Improv. In jazz the melody is always there but sometimes it’s hidden behind a little free improvisation. You’re never really sure where the music is going because the musician doesn’t really know either! He’s free to explore different combinations, progressions, and resolutions. Every version of the song is different. Coaching conversations are very similar. There is a main focus to the conversation but there is freedom to explore combinations and the final resolution will reflect the uniqueness of the person being coached. No two conversations are the same.

Players. Most jazz groups are small – individuals, duets, trios, 5-piece, etc. While there are big jazz bands some of the best jazz sound comes from very small groups. Coaching takes advantage of the uniqueness of the individual to create successful pathways and solutions. In christian coaching that duet between the coach and the person-being-coached includes the Holy Spirit – the perfect 3-piece combo!

Movement. There are times while listening to jazz that you just have to move along with the music. You might tap a finger, a foot, or even both feet! There’s no reason to fight it. Enjoy the beauty of the rhythm and harmonies in the moment. Close your eyes if you want to. In coaching we refer to this as “dancing in the moment.” It’s what happens when the person-being-coached “leads” into new territory with a reply to a question and the coach “follows” his or her lead with more questions. The conversation is not choreographed – it happens with both spontaneity and purposefulness – and movement is created.

Resolution. Every piece of jazz ends a bit differently but most often there is a sense of resolution that just feels right. Often it evokes a nod and a smile. Coaching can evoke much the same response. A sense of resolution. A nod of agreement and direction. A smile that a plan is in place that will bring about change and growth – even anticipation for the next set (coaching conversation).

Improv. Players. Movement. Resolution – all key elements of a good jazz selection and of a good coaching session. Listening to jazz is making me a better coach!

Ready to move into your own coaching conversation? Contact me today. Let’s get started!

Four Secrets of Successful Ministry Leaders

Leaders-Managing-CrisisLet’s face it. No matter how good we think we are as leaders we all know we can do better. Here are four quick secrets that will unlock your leadership:

1) Take Risks. Successful ministry leaders take risks. Church planter/Lead Pastor Marlan Mincks says, “What God has for us is never realized in safety. It’s only realized in risk.” You can sit around and wait for ever thing to fall in place on it’s own or you can take a risk and go for it! I asked an “elephant in the room” question at a board of directors meeting once that ended up with us relocating our ministry center from Chicago to Orlando. If I’d kept my mouth shut the opportunity to move would have been lost for good.

2) Read. Pastor Rick Warren writes, “If you want to be a growing leader…keep reading. It’s the only way to stay out front.” [Read More] The two best book I’ve read in recent months are “Overrated” by Eugene Cho because it challenged my views of missions and justice [Review] and “What Radical Husbands Do” by Regi Campbell because of its clarity and directness in my most important leadership role.

3) Get assessed. Succesful ministry leaders invite assessment of their ministry and leadership skills. Author David Olson has created a FREE online leadership assessment that accompanies his book: Discovering Your Leadership Style. It’s worth the 5 minutes of your time. sixstyles.org
 
4) Get Coached. Neil Tibbots of Leadership On-Ramp ranks the coaching of church planters as even more important than their assessment. An assessed but uncoached church planter is unlikely to successfully plant a church. A good coach can help you develop as a leader and chart a course toward continued ministry success.
 
Contact me today and let me help you get started making significant progress toward unlocking these secrets in your own ministry.
 
joedonaldson@icloud.com

Top Ten Reasons to Get a Coach

Don’t think you need a coach? Think again! Here are ten reasons why you should get a coach:

10. Your boss (or your spouse) told you so!
Ok. So this one is not very subtle! When someone important in your life tells you to get help they mean it! You may not see the value in getting coached yet but you should trust their advice (or plea!) and call a coach today.

9. You were passed over for a promotion…again!
Let’s see if we can’t figure out together why this keeps happening. It might be related to #10 (see above) or #2 through #8 (see below). Taking responsibility for your own direction and development is a great outcome of coaching.

8. You’re in a performance loop.
Does your life remind you of the movie “Groundhog Day?” Have you been down this road before repeating the same tasks and mistakes? epic coaching can help you break out of the loop.

7. You keep hitting the wall.
Different from a performance loop (see #8 above) you just can’t seem to get past a certain point. You’ve tried different tactics but there just doesn’t seem anyway over, around, under, or through that wall. A fresh conversation with a good coach can help you discover some fresh and effective ways to get past that wall.

6. You struggle with achieving an elusive goal.
You understand the importance of setting goals but there are one or more goals that seem to be just beyond your reach. A coach can help you set smart goals that will produce the results that you want.

5. You have poor follow-through.
Every year you set new goals. Every month you review those goals and determine to make progress toward achieving them – except that the goals haven’t really changed in years. A coach can help you turn those goals into actions so that you can start making progress.

4. You don’t even know where to start!
While you’ve identified the problem you don’t have any clue where to start in tackling the problem. Coaching is an intentional conversation that will help you identify the steps that will be most helpful for you.

3. You lack purpose or direction.
You have a sense that something is not quite right and that things could be better but beyond that it’s kind of fuzzy. If you would like to bring some clarity to your life then talk with a coach.

2. You want something more.
You are ready to move forward and to take the next step. You’ve been in this rut for far too long and it’s time to take action! This is where coaching pays huge dividends. A coach will help you get where you want to go – faster!

1. It works!
Coaching works because no one is telling you what to do or how to do it! The coaching conversation focuses on the future and on actively achieving the goals that you have set. Coaching gets the results that you want.

Ready to talk to a coach?  I can help you get started. Contact me and let’s start the conversation!

Let’s Talk About Coaching!


Are you looking for a coach? Do you know what a coach does and what you can expect in a coaching relationship? Do you know the difference between coaching, consulting,counseling, and mentoring? Here are some answers to those questions.

First some definitions. According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), coaching is defined as:

“partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Creative Results Management (CRM) defines coaching this way:

“Christian coaching is an on-going intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.”

And Linda Miller and Chad Hall submit this definition in their book, Coaching for Christian Leaders:

“Christian coaching is a focused Christ-centered relationship that cultivates a person’s sustained growth and action.”

This simple chart might help you understand the difference between coaching, consulting, counseling, and mentoring.

If this description of coaching sounds interesting to you I invite you to contact me. I’d be happy to explore with you how epic coaching can help you get unstuck and go further faster.

Downloadable version of chart:  coaching chart

The Epic Coaching Approach

epic coaching logoBefore you choose a coach you should find out a little about the way they would coach you. What kind of training have they had? What are their core coaching values, their basic coaching assumptions, and their methods? This is the first in a series to answer those questions about my coaching.

I was trained by Creative Results Management, completing their CORE coach training in 2012 and their EXCEL training in 2013. I am a member of ICF (International Coach Federation) and was  awarded their ACC certification in 2013 and anticipate receiving the PCC (Professional Coach Certification)  and the Coach-Approach Ministries CCLC (Certified Christian Leadership Coach) early in 2016.

My coaching philosophy follows closely what Linda Miller & Chad Hall describe in their book: “Coaching for Christian Leaders.” I will excerpt their work here. (Please refer to chapter 1 of Coaching Christian Leaders for the complete text.)

Christian coaching is a focused Christ-centered relationship that cultivates a person’s sustained growth and action.

Focused. Christian coaching is purposeful in intent. The focus in a coaching relationship is always on the person being coached and supporting that person’s growth and action.

Christ-centered. The assumption in Christian coaching is that the coach is a Christian while the person being coached may or not. The coach’s faith impacts the entire coaching relationship.

Relationship. Each Coaching relationship is unique. It is a relationship with a commitment. The commitment is to Christ and to the person being coached.

Cultivates. Through coaching conversations the person being coached is able to focus on specific personal opportunities or challenges, anticipate barriers, identify resources, and develop an action plan.

Sustained growth and action. Coaching is about transformation. Coaching always results in action. The coach supports the person being coached in developing action plans as well as systems of accountability for following through on those plans.

(p.12 – Coaching for Christian Leaders)

I’d be happy to talk with you about how coaching can benefit you. Contact me and let’s start the conversation!

God Wants You To Be Holy

Every once in a while you hear about a book that someone reads every year. Screwtape Letters, Elements of Style, My Utmost for His Highest, or The Complete Calvin and Hobbs.  The Hole In Our Holiness will certainly make the annual reading list for thousands who take following Jesus seriously.

Kevin DeYoung makes the case for a holiness deficit in the N. American church with three penetrating questions:

1) In Romans 16.9 Paul writes, “Your obedience is known to all.” DeYoung asks, “Is this even what you want to be known for? (p. 12)

2) Based on Rev 21-22 heaven is a holy place. DeYoung asks, “If you dislike a holy God now, why would you want to be with him forever?…..You would not be happy there if your are not holy here.” (p. 15)

3) Are we Great Commission Christians? “The Great Commission is about holiness. God wants the world to know Jesus, believe in Jesus, and obey Jesus.” (p. 16)

What follows is a thoughtful book on our responsibility and the necessity of our cooperation in the pursuit of holiness and the inherent perils in that pursuit. He addresses the importance of understanding the gradation of sin: “When we can no longer see the different gradations among sins and sinners and sinful nations, we have not succeeded in respecting our own badness; we have  cheapened God’s goodness.” (p. 72). When we get complacent in the pursuit of holiness DeYoung warns “…some Christians are stalled out in their sanctification for simple lack of effort. …. And they need to fight, strive, and make every effort to work out all that God is working in them.” (p. 90)

Chapter 7 is an important and profound treatment of the doctrine of our union with Christ. This chapter alone is worth the modest price of this fine book! Here’s just one example of DeYoung’s pointed and powerful writing: “In effect God says to us, ‘Because you believe in Christ, by the Holy Spirit I have joined you to Christ. When he died, you died. When he rose, you rose. He’s in heaven, so you’re in heaven. He’s holy, so you’re holy. Your position right now, objectively and factually, is as a holy, beloved child of God, dead to sin, alive to righteousness, and seated in my holy heaven – now live like it.” (p. 105). That will preach! And it will provide great encouragement to those who struggle to live up to their calling every day.

Toward the end of the book DeYoung clearly identifies the importance of personal holiness: “We think that relevance and relate-ability are the secrets to spiritual  success. And yet, in truth, a dying world needs you to be with God more than it needs you to be “with it.” That’s true for me as a pastor and true for you as a mother, father, brother, sister, child, grandparent, friend, Bible study leader, computer programmer, bank teller, barista, or CEO. Your friends and family, your colleagues and kids – they don’t need you to do miracles or transform civilization. They need you to be holy.” (p. 145).

It’s a short trip from holiness to legalism and we are often either very eager to make that trip or take just 1 or 2 wrong turns and end up at a destination that is not where we intended to go. What DeYoung writes in The Hole In Our Holiness can be very prescriptive and preventative in keeping us on the road to holiness. Don’t miss the last paragraph. It might be the most powerful paragraph in the entire book!

As a coach and second chair leader I recommend this book to all who want their lives to reflect the reality of their union with Jesus Christ. Personally, I found this short book to be filled with balanced and accurate interpretations of what the Bible teaches on the topic of personal holiness. The thoughtful reader will find plenty of encouragement and challenging motivation from it. And if you don’t have a book that you read annually, I would encourage you to make The Hole In Our Holiness that book.

This. Changes. Everything!

It was a seminal moment for me.

I recently attended a week of CORE coaching training put on by the good people of CRM. In a group of 30 active and aspiring coaches we were pulled, pushed, and stretched into a new way of helping people discover what God is already doing in their lives and how he is already speaking to them. Simply put it was the finest training experience of my life!

For most of us (and certainly for me) whenever we are in a group discussion or review we always want to offer our solutions. After all, our vast experience and superior knowledge on the subject is just what the other person or the group needs at the moment! It was nice of them to ask your opinion because you certainly have one!

Coaching isn’t like that. At the heart and soul of coaching is the art of asking questions that guide people through a process of self-discovery to a solution that they design and choose. The coach doesn’t offer solutions, tell about their own experience, or tell them what they “ought” to do. The goal in coaching is for the coach to speak only 20& of the time! The strength of this process is that people are much more likely to implement a decision that they made themselves than a decision that is forced on them.

Throughout the week we had several practice live coaching sessions with other group members. These were usually limited to 15-20 minute sessions while an actual coaching session is more likely to last anywhere from 45-90 minutes. But I was amazed at how much coaching could be accomplished in such a short period. It was one of those practice sessions that changed everything.

I was in a coaching triad where we did a ’round-robin’ series of three coaching sessions Each member of the triad had a turn as a coach, a coach, and an observer. It was a 20-minute session of epic life transformation! That got my attention. I left that training committed to pursuing coaching as a central component to my ministry and life. I’m already in the process of inviting several people to enter into a coaching relationship that will help them make some important life decisions and achieve some significant goals in life and ministry. I’d be happy to talk with you about how a handful of coaching sessions could be beneficial to you, too!