Tag Archives: following

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!

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!

Chazown

Craig Groeschel defines “Chazown” as: “dream” or “revelation” or “vision.” He asserts that we all need vision to  do what God has created us to do. He identifies four things that vision brings to our lives: focus, endurance, peace, and passion (p.12). Beginning with the end in mind, Groeschel takes the reader on a journey of discovering their personal Chazown.

Part field guide, part workbook, Chazown is a practical manual for developing and identifying God’s vision for your life. Along the way you will do some writing as you wrestle with a variety of clarifying exercises the author presents. As you walk through these 76 short chapters you will refer back  to those exercises and further clarify and modify them.

At about the half-way point of the book Groeschel identifies five spokes of your personal Chazown as:

1. Your relationship with God

2. Your relationship with people

3. Your financial health

4. Your physical health

5. Your life’s work

A brief self-inventory on page 106 helps you consider one of two options. You can either focus on one of the five spokes and develop an action plan to address it or you can develop action plans on all five spokes. A section is devoted to each spoke. If you are going to just look at one at a time then this is where you skip ahead to that specific section. (You can always come back to the other sections!)

I believe that most people will find Chazown to be helpful – especially if they feel that something is missing in their lives and they are looking for direction and meaning. This is not a book that you just read and then set aside. There is a fair amount of work that one must do to fully benefit from it. There are tons of additional resources located at http://www.chazown.com that will help you. You might find the 4-session group guideline included in the back of the book to be the best way for you to process what you’ve read. But whether you make this journey alone or with others, Chazown will help you bring clarity and direction to your life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Gospel of Yes

Mike Glenn makes a significant contribution toward bringing clarity back to a simple Gospel message that has been buried by confusion and clutter in recent decades. How many of us have come to understand the Gospel as “the Gospel plus?” Plus a dress code, plus a list of do’s and don’ts, plus a certain translation of the Bible. Enough already!

Glenn begins our journey toward a simpler Gospel with words like these found on p. 12:

“When you accept the “yes” of Christ’s redemptive grace and respond with the “yes” of faith, everything finds its rightful place. Your life finds order, meaning, and the right fit in your community. Finally you can relax in who God created you to be. If a decision before you doesn’t serve your “yes” in Christ, then the response is ‘no.'”

A few pages later Glenn adds: “”Saying ‘yes’ allows you to focus on what matters.” (p. 17)

Somewhere along the way we began defining God’s love and grace and the heart of the Gospel in negative terms. Certainly God is against some things. The same things we are all against. Things like stealing, lying, murder, adultery, etc. Those are terribly destructive behaviors that God (and all of us) should be against. But  this fascination with defining the Gospel in negative terms has been destructive, too.

“For far too many of us, Christianity has been narrowed down to sin management. Sure, we all want to get to heaven. But under the sin-management paradigm, getting to heaven is no longer about Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and his invitation to follow him in new life. The focus on sin makes getting to heaven a matter of keeping score.” (p. 26)

Hang around church for more than just a few years and you will know all about keeping score. I’ve had people hand me a bulletin from the church they visited while they were on vacation so that I would know that they went to church. Have to keep that perfect attendance streak intact! We are consumed with avoiding wrong behavior and we excel at letting people know what we are against!

“Simply not doing wrong isn’t enough. Being against sin isn’t the same as being for Christ.” (p. 27)

But ask the typical co-worker, neighbor, or unchurched relative to describe the Christians they know and odds are that they will begin with a list of things they think that Christians are against: drinking, dancing, same-sex marriage, movies, public schools, voting democrat!

“We have concluded that avoiding hell is more important that following Christ in any practical, daily, risky way. So we shut ourselves off from the world and the God who created it. This is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is such a shock to many Christians. We assumed Jesus would come to earth and say “no.” We never expect him to preach “yes.” But his message should not come as a surprise. He came, he said, to preach the message of his Father, and his Father has been saying “yes” all along. The champions of our faith – Abraham, David, Mary, and all the rest – are simply those who heard and believed the “yes” of God in Jesus. They heard the same “yes” that God spoke to call creation itself to life.

And we are invited to hear that same “yes” today.” (p. 34)

Glenn takes these basic concepts and applies them in various ways. He addresses the “yes” in creation, in the cross, and in the resurrection. He challenges his readers to consider the “yes” of forgiveness, of authentic relationships, of simplicity, and more.  If reading these excerpts from “The Gospel of Yes” have grabbed your attention then I would encourage you to read the rest of the book. There’s a simple discussion guide included in the back of the book that covers the 15 chapters in 7 sessions. “The Gospel of Yes” could be read individually, used in a small group, or with your church staff or leadership group. It is a book that should be read by all those who seek to follow Jesus and those who have grown weary of keeping score.

Do Nice Guys Finish Last at Gonzaga?

The “Sweet 16” teams of the 2012 NCAA tournament are set. Millions of fans watched as their favorite team(s) were eliminated over the first two rounds – including two second-seeded teams! I’ve been a Gonzaga fan for the past 17 years and have watched their annual run in the tournament for 14 of those 17 years.There have been some pretty heady moments for this ‘mid-major’ school along the way – Sweet 16 & Elite 8 appearances – and some major disappointments – like losing in the first round.

It would be easy to observe Gonzaga and their longtime coach Mark Few and level some criticisms. For example, it seems that the Zags never dominate. They win lots of games – enough to make 14 consecutive appearances in the NCAA – but often those games are much closer than they should be. Occasionally  they have lost those close games – even to teams they should have easily beaten. They sometimes allow lesser talented teams to keep the score within 2-3 possessions and rarely put them away early. Could the Zags and their coach be too nice? This is more than a single-season phenomenon. It’s something that is evident year after year.

A recent in-depth article in the Tacoma NewsTribune reported on the behind-the-scenes ‘niceness’ factor of the Zags and Coach Few. [Read article here] When you read the article you get the very real sense that the men’s basketball program at GU is about much more than winning basketball games (Coach Few does have the 2nd highest wining percentage of all active coaches!). It’s about developing men who are committed to service and generosity. It’s about leadership in the local community and using their talents to help others. So if it’s true in this case that good guys finish last, I’m okay with that!

Go Zags!!

I Am A Follower

It is rare when a book comes along that is truly transformational. Leonard Sweet’s I Am A Follower is one such book.

Sweet is part prophet (both foretelling and forthtelling), part annoying eccentric, part wise sage, and part poet. You can’t read Sweet without a reaction and that is certainly true in this current volume. The main subtitle is: The Way, The Truth, and Life of Following Jesus. The tiny subtitle of I Am A Follower is: It’s Never Been about Leading. That should tell you a lot abut what you will read between the covers of this book.

Sweet identifies (and I think, correctly) that for the past 3-4 decades the church in N. America has suffered from an obsession with leadership.  How many books, seminars, conferences, articles, sermons, have we heard, taught, written, or preached on the subject of leadership? I myself was a charter subscriber to Leadership Journal 35 years ago. I have embraced a mantra of creating “More disciples, more leaders, and more churches.” Everywhere you turn in the church today there is cult of celebrity around ‘successful’ leaders. And have you noticed that “successful” always means “bigger”? Always.

“One of the greatest myths about leadership is that bigger is always better. I predict that future societies will recognize the fallacy of this myth and that the three mantras for the society will be these:

  • Live more with less.
  • Make little large.
  • Upscale by downsizing.”     (p. 151)

I found that much of Sweet had to say resonated with my own recent personal pilgrimage. Over the past several years I have intentionally pursued the title of Executive Pastor. I have skills and experience that would seem to indicate that I could perform XP functions with ease. Recently I came to realize that the greater role would be to do something less! (I think this fits with Sweet’s second point above.) I am now working to spend more of my time in discipleship coaching rather than ministry administration. I will be investing in men and women to coach them to become better equipped to carry out their ministries and to grow as followers of Jesus. I don’t really see this as a diminished role – except where it would appear on an organizational chart! My desire is to return to my original ordination charge, “…to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

If you are a church leader at any level you should read this book. If you are a Christ follower at any stage in your journey you should read this book! I believe that this would make a great book for group study for church staff, board, small groups, or even couples together. I just finished reading I Am A Follower and I plan to read it again.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”