Category Archives: Coaching

Who in Your Life…?

Who do you have in your life who does the following?

  •  They listen to you well. They hear what others don’t, hear what even you likely haven’t put together. They listen to what your heart and gut are saying.
  •  They identify — verbally and often — your skills, gifts, passions, values, interests and desires. And when they do, they help you grasp how you’re put together.
  •  They believe in you. Not like your 7th grade English teacher who took everyone aside and said “you have great potential!” This is the man or woman who discerns your unique design. They assist you with seeing your purpose,  related to your unique design and life experiences…therefore equipping you to know where you will make your greatest impact.
  •  Finally, they aren’t content to let you just know these things. The press you — not just to do your best, but to be your best.

Who is there who fills that role in your life?

Those practices paint a picture of the privileged role that we as coaches get to fill every day — and also helps you understand why we’re so passionate about doing it well!

Why I Need a Coach (and you probably do too)

A few years ago, I began a coaching relationship. It wasn’t a simple decision. There were issues that held me back.

Fear held me back. I knew if I launched out and actually discussed goals, dreams and plans that I’d actually have to do something about my goals, dreams and plans! And of course, like most people, I so often prefer the comfort of “what I know” (even though it’s not very comfortable) to the discomfort of decision-making…choices which mean change…and communicating my goals to others. In all of it, I of course, also feared failure. But I began to realize that the road I was on was a slow track to a more ultimate failure: the failure to actually be what I knew I could be!

The idea of accountability held me back. Like a lot of people, I was hiding under the radar of glib statements like: “I’m busy” or “I’m doing the best I can with the (time/money/resources/relationships) I’ve got. But then I realized, accountability isn’t about just exposing excuses, it is about ownership and intentionality – things which move me forward – past excuses, out of my comfort and into the kind of effective and fruitful life about which I had only dreamt!

So what’s coaching done for me?

Just given me an honest environment where I can speak freely, dream greatly and choose repeatedly to do what I know I really want! It offers me a confidential “sounding board” environment. My coach provides absolute confidentiality. We can discuss and analyze fear and hesitations. I can talk through dreams – even the ones I’ve never spoken aloud to myself before. Coaching also provides me support and encouragement like I’ve had in just a couple of other relationships. And my coach’s encouragement isn’t the “pat on the back”/“you can do it” kind. He challenges me relentlessly; questions me progressively; gives me the freedom to admit it when I’m making excuses. And the best part: he reminds me of the astounding value and purpose that are part of how I’m created!

His encouragement literally consists of “pouring courage into me” when my human nature would rather excuse, be lazy or fall back to my lack of confidence.

So, if you’re in need of challenge, clarity, insight…and support, encouragement and accountability, I urge you to get in touch! It’s the first in a long series of good choices you’ll make!

Whatever you decide

Ralph Waldo Emerson described what happens when we decide on a course of action or goal.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”

You’ve likely experienced the “fruit” of critics in your life. From family members at an early age to co-workers and “friends” later in life, we often have a ready supply of those who tell us how unlikely it is that our goal or plan will come to fruition. Summoning courage at those junctures means putting ourselves “out there” and it means operating without the encouragement of people who ought to believe in us.

What an appropriate time that is to:

  • Get with someone who’s been there, who’s been experienced a similar journey. Examples might be a business owner who’s taken signficant risk or one who’s worked through huge financial hurdles. A key individual might provide the need of the moment: mentor, counsel, encouragement, prayer or challenge. Be ready for the response that’s right!
  • Write out a clear and compelling vision. Answer for yourself the “why am I doing this?” question. Spend time yourself in meditation and prayer. Ascertain that you’re not doing the wrong thing your critics asserted.
  • Keep the vision connected to reality. Great visions rarely come together in the time and manner we’d prefer. Put realistic and measureable goals together, get them into your plan and work your plan.
  • Get some coaching. Coaches specialize in listening and we believe in our clients. I believe what God has put into people — by way of vision, purpose and passions — is what needs to “come out”. In nearly every session, I hear a clients discuss things they are hestitant to share even with spouses, best friends or co-workers.



Any Incentive?

A few years ago, a Michigan State University study centered on 2 groups of faculty and staff. In both groups, individuals had committed to a 6-month exercise program. The difference in the 2 groups was simple. In one, individuals willingly bet $40 that they would stay with the program. Members of the other group declined to place bets on their own success.

97% of the faculty members and staff who had placed personal bets were successful. With the non-betting group, only 19% completed the program!

What incentives do you put alongside your goals to insure changes in your thoughts, decisions and actions?

As coaches, we assist clients not only in setting great goals, but in understanding the reasons they want to reach them: most often those reasons flow from their purpose, passion and core values.

Today’s Comfort Zone…

There’s a powerful truth that should push us forward to grow in all of life’s dimensions: Today’s comfort zone becomes tomorrow’s confinement zone. The atrophy of all our “muscles” — physical, mental, relational, spiritual — even the creative “muscles” of growing in business or influence — that atrophy always results from disuse. Ever hear of “The Wild Duck of Denmark” — a story told by Soren Kierkegaard, Danish theologian and philosopher.

It seems a wild duck was flying northward with his mates across Europe during the springtime. En route, he landed in a barnyard in Denmark, where he made friends with the tame ducks that lived there. The wild duck enjoyed the corn and fresh water. He decided to stay for an hour, then for a day, then for a week , and finally, for a month.

At the end of that time, he contemplated flying to join his friends in the vast North, but he had begun to enjoy the safety of the barnyard, and the tame ducks had made him feel so welcome. So he stayed for the summer.

One autumn day, when his wild mates were flying south, he heard their quacking. It stirred him with delight, and he enthusiastically flapped his wings and rose into the air to join them. Much to his dismay, he found that he could rise no higher than the eaves of the barn. As he waddled back to the safety of the barnyard, he muttered to himself, “I’m satisfied here, I have plenty of food, and the area is good. Why should I leave.?” So, he spent the winter on the farm.

In the spring, when the wild ducks flew overhead again, he felt a strange stirring within his breast, but he did not even try to fly up to meet them. When they returned in the fall, they again called to invite him to join them, but this time, the duck did not even notice them. There was no stirring within his breast. He simply kept on eating corn which made him fat.

In which dimension do you most need the challenge to fly?


Why Do I Wait?

Samuel Johnson said, “He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do anything.”
What’s going on behind my hesitation, what fuels my unwillingness to pull the trigger on what appears to be the best course of action to achieve a goal? I’d suggest the following, all of which I’ve experienced:

1. Fear — fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of people, fear of leaving my warm blanket — the blanket of what I know and am comfortable with — right now. The problem with warm blankets? Security is mostly a myth. And — what I fear often precisely describes the area in which I need to grow! But fears are real and must be addressed, one by one. Write them down. Talk them through with a friend, mentor or coach. Pray about them! Then — lay them to rest! You’ll find that most fears begin to lose their grip in the light of truth, analysis and conversation.

2. Adding something else to a jammed schedule. The task ahead might be massive. Very likely, if it’s a good goal, it will be large! And my calendar is packed. I like the feel of a few holes in the schedule which “I can call my own.” The issue here is one of value. I’m comparing the value of wanting “my time” or “maintaining current commitments” to something less real. To determine value, I need to ask, “what’s the preferred future (the vision, the goal) worth?”

Every decision I will make involves a trade-off! It’s the principle of “always doing what I always did…” and expecting more/better/different. A trade-off requires that I must give up in order to move out. I must “lighten the load” (time/commitments/activities, all of which might be very enjoyable) in order to pursue the best. With what might be large goals, have someone help you think through appropriate bite-sized pieces you can add to a schedule while you begin removing items of less value.

3. I don’t see the road clearly ahead. I don’t have a plan. I don’t know about you, but hesitation is often, there’s no clear way to go, so I stop right where I am. And wait for…well, just wait! The need, of course is a plan. But plans rarely fall from the heavens; good plans develop out of process, they accompany movement, they are the product of an engaged heart and mind! So engage! Read. Listen. Think, pray — and get with people who are growing! Your coach can help you step by step with plan development, as you move in the direction in which you want to move.

Your coach will also remind you regularly that what you really want won’t arrive if you wait where you are.


Questions for ’13

It’s not uncommon to stand on the edge of a New Year with either too much in view or with so much on your plate that you have a tough time knowing which concrete goals to set for the year ahead.

If you’re not sure,  try answering the following questions:

1. How do I want to be remembered (as a spouse, parent, leader, follower, etc)?

If this year were to determine your legacy, what would you like it to reflect?

2. At what level of “fitness” (physical, relational, spiritual, financial etc) would I like to end 2013?

Take one or more of the areas and start putting numbers or key words beside them. That becomes the framework onto which you can then begin to build some healthy goals.

And, if you need help asking yourself some of life’s hard questions, or you need someone to bring support, encouragement and accountability into the process, call us. We love looking ahead at the transformation that a New Year’s goals can bring!

Ready for a Look Back?

If you’re ready to do a review of 2012, here are some questions to help you take an effective look back.

1. What were the highlights of this past year — people, achievements, effective changes carried through?

2. How do I gauge the following areas for 2012: vocation/business, spiritual life, marriage/family, other key relationships, finances, health and wellness, balance/recreation.

3. Have “first things” really first? Is my spiritual life developing? Is my marriage better? Is there growth in other key relationships?

3. As I measure the investment of time and finances, which areas have received too little, too much, or “just right” investment?

4. What has drained me? What has energized me?

6. How am I preparing for 5 years from now? 10 years?

7. What have I been putting off that I need to address in January? What other planning or goal areas come to mind?

Now what? How will I move ahead in 2013?

Experts agree that an “outside” look — like from a coach — can help us make strides foward which we simply can’t make on our own.

We’re experts at asking questions; you’re the expert on your dreams and desires. We can help; call us, and let’s begin asking the right questions to get you started in 2013!

Creativity Unleashed

I’ve been fascinated by Eric Hoffer’s thoughts on “alibis” — what we would call an excuse.

Hoffer wrote, “There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life. Moreover, when we have an alibi for not writing a book, painting a picture, and so on, we have an alibi for not writing the greatest book and not painting the greatest picture. Small wonder that the effort expended and the punishment endured in obtaining a good alibi often exceed the effort and grief requisite for the attainment of a most marked achievement.”

It’s so often stunned me that humans will expend seemingly unlimited strength of mind and creativity to excuse what is often a simple dodge of responsibility. What’s sadder, in the case of many excuses (and that to which Hoffer alludes) we fail others and certainly fail ourselves when we default to offering up a cheap “word of dodging” rather than a what might have been the product of that strength and creativity.

If you know there’s more in you than the average effort, the average process and the average product which have been flowing from your work, shoot us an email or call us. We love to help creative people really succeed!


Feedback: Breakfast of Champions

It was a phrase I heard at Weight Watchers: “The scale isn’t failure, it’s just feedback.”

If you’re on the road to weight loss and have a week or two of making choices which don’t support your goals, “the scale” – that weekly weigh-in at Weight Watchers – might look like something to avoid!

Coaching is all about feedback. Catalyst Coaches offer to clients an encouraging environment in which they can clearly see if  their recent choices moved them closer to their goals or not.

Feedback can be embraced!

Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson said it like this: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”