Climbing the Heights through Coaching

Call me crazy, but there are certain aspects of basic training in the Army that I really enjoyed! One of my favorites was the “Confidence Course.” The Confidence Course was the mother of all challenge courses without the safety devices (at least back then).

One of the elements (or structures) on the Confidence Course that I most vividly remember was called the Skyscraper and resembled a multi-story building. This structure consisted of four telephone poles planted vertically in the ground, their bases forming a square. Each pole stood about eight feet from the other. The four poles all angled outward, away from the center of the structure as they rose from the ground.

At increments of about nine feet, level platforms were suspended between the poles forming each “story.” Because the poles jutted outward, so did each successive story. This made jumping up to the next story impossible.

The rules of engagement were that we were not allowed to climb the poles, but had to ascend the Skyscraper simply by climbing from one level to the next. The challenge was that there was no way to accomplish the task by ourselves. Instead, we paired up with a buddy with whom we worked together to climb the Skyscraper. Working with another person the task was still difficult but doable.

Engaging the challenges of a career, relationships, a major transition, or some lofty goal can be far more complex and daunting than climbing the “Skyscraper.” But for some reason, we often think we have to go it alone. Somewhere along the line, we picked up the false notion that if we don’t achieve our goals alone, we’ve somehow failed.

Let me debunk that notion! International leadership guru, Bill Hybels, said, “I have never done a single thing of value without the assistance of others.”

I have to agree with Bill. And one of the best ways to engage the assistance of others to help achieve whatever challenge stands before us is to employ a coach. I’ve personally gained so much through working with a coach.

Perhaps you’ve never engaged a coach before, but I’ve piqued your interest. Let me offer you a free, no-obligation, 30-minute, kick-the-tires coaching session. You’ve nothing to lose and a lot to gain! Try coaching and see how you can maximize your leadership potential and stay on top of your game.

©2015 Rob Fischer, CPLC

Dare Mighty Things!

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt 

There’s something about that quote that stirs me to the core of my being! Who wants to “rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat”?

The problem is that people get stuck. Behavioral patterns for a day, soon become those for a week, and then a month, and then a year, and so forth. Suddenly, a person wakes up one morning realizing they’re no further along than they were 10, 20, or 30 years before.

That’s tragic!

The definition of insanity: “doing what we’ve always done, yet expecting different results” has become merely a cliché. We glibly acknowledge its truth, but don’t act on it.

Stop! No, really! We cannot continue doing the same things we’ve always done and expect different results!

But we’re afraid. We’re cautious. We’re careful. We reason that our hesitations are prudent and wise, only to discover that perhaps we too “rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

As we embark on 2015, perhaps you find yourself living too much “in a gray twilight.” What characterizes your life, your relationships, and your pursuits? Do you find that you “neither enjoy nor suffer much?”

If so, coaching may be just the leverage and impetus you need to dare some mighty thing. This is one of the things I love about coaching; it leaves no one in that “gray twilight,” but challenges, empowers and equips to “dare mighty things.”

How about it? Give coaching a try in 2015. Call, text or email me to get started meeting with your personal coach.

Rob Fischer

 

Clearing the Fog around Coaching

The term coaching is thrown around a lot these days, but with a wide variety of meanings. I’d like to generate a little wind to try to clear away the fog around coaching!

In order to look at coaching simply, let me suggest that there are three primary types of coaches: the skills coach, the mentor coach, and the professional coach. All three types of coaches are valid and helpful within the bounds of what they’re designed to do.

The Skills Coach

Sports coaches, personal trainers, voice coaches, and real estate coaches fall into this category. These coaches are generally trained in a specific skill in which an individual wishes to improve. The skills coach may or may not have had any training in coaching skills. Their singular expertise qualifies them as a coach. We can improve in any sport, or other highly skilled activity by engaging a skills coach.

Characteristics of skills coaching include:

  • Heavy instruction
  • Highly directive, coach-led
  • Narrow focus on a skill
  • The individual submits to the direction of their skills coach
  • Usually a formal arrangement

The skills coach says, “Do it like this…”

The Mentor Coach

Mentor coaches have generally built up years of experience and expertise in some field of work that qualifies them to coach. We find mentor coaches frequently in business in many different professions and disciplines. Mentor coaching is typically not a profession, but more of a service. Usually, a mentor coach is a veteran showing a junior person the ropes of their profession. A mentor coach may or may not have any training in coaching skills and requires no certification.

Characteristics of mentor coaching include:

  • Moderate instruction
  • Moderately to less directive, coach- and individual-led
  • Usually a targeted focus
  • The individual defers to the direction of their mentor coach
  • Can be either formal or informal arrangement

The mentor coach says, “Do what I have done…”

The Professional Coach

Professional coaches often refer to themselves as life coaches, executive coaches, leadership coaches and the like. These are professionals trained in the competencies of coaching and become certified when they demonstrate mastery of those competencies.[1] Professional coaches are unique among coaches in that their skills enable them to coach others proficiently in a wide variety of life and work issues.

Characteristics of professional coaching include:

  • Open-ended questioning
  • Non-directive, client-led
  • Focuses on the client’s agenda
  • The coach empowers the client to self-direct
  • Formal arrangement

The professional coach asks, “What would you like to achieve?”

The key difference between professional coaches and skills and mentor coaches, is that the professional coach prompts and empowers the individual to direct their coaching experience. This creates an entirely different experience for the individual.

With skills and mentor coaches, the individual is fairly dependent on them for direction and instruction. With a professional coach, the individual is challenged to delve into untapped personal resources.

Also, the skills and mentor coaches are usually interested only in what goes on in the individual’s life as it pertains to the skill or proficiency at hand. The professional coach is trained to uncover hidden obstacles to success in the client’s life.

For instance, a client may want to set and be held accountable for a lofty business goal. In the coaching process, the coach helps the client discover through questioning that there’s a rift in the client’s relationship with their spouse. The client realizes that this rift will undoubtedly impede the client’s progress toward their goal. So the coach assists the client in determining how to repair that relationship and meet their goal.

In this way, professional coaching is a holistic approach for empowering an individual to grow and develop in any area the individual desires.

I am excited to be among the ranks of certified coaches! I love coaching, because I enjoy helping people grow and excel at life.

My clients have included business owners, pastors, church planters, missionaries, entrepreneurs, and professionals in: real estate, engineering, finance, transportation, construction, property management, pharmaceuticals, sales, health care, information systems, telephony, and insurance.

How about you? What big goal would you like to set and hit? Where are you feeling stuck? What obstacles are you facing that are preventing you from reaching your goals? What transitions are you experiencing right now? What relationships would you like to significantly improve? Where are you in your walk with Jesus Christ? What’s tugging at your life that you’d like to change or improve?

Contact me. I offer a free, 30-minute, introductory coaching session with no strings attached. Try coaching out and see if it’s for you!

Rob Fischer



[1] The International Coach Federation has identified 11 core coaching competencies that a professional coach must be able to demonstrate in order to be certified. See: http://coachfederation.org/credential/landing.cfm?ItemNumber=2206&navItemNumber=576.

How to Survive Difficult People

When I Googled “stress at the holidays” it yielded 94,900,000 results! So perhaps it’s an understatement to say that the holidays with all their fun and festivity also produce a jolly good amount of stress!

I would venture to guess that one of the key factors inducing stress at this time of year has to do with people and relationships. Relational strife generates stress like nothing else does. And during the holidays we often find ourselves spending time with relatives or co-workers whom we would categorize as difficult.

Difficult people are inevitable. We must simply recognize that some people are: self-absorbed, insecure, needy, wounded, contrary, abrasive, or socially inept. That’s where many people find themselves for a variety of reasons. Let me offer some tips on how to survive those encounters.

First, don’t react to difficult people. When people are being unpleasant toward us, if we respond in kind, we take on their character. We become like them, exhibiting the same behaviors toward them that we find so repulsive. Instead, maintain self-control and make it your goal to brighten their day.

Second, change your mindset toward difficult people. Our immediate response toward difficult people is a feeling of superiority. We see ourselves as better people than they are. Instead, we need to humble ourselves. What if they find us as difficult to get along with as we find them? Do we really have our act together? We need to take a large dose of humility and let it do its work in us and those around us.

Another way we can change our mindset toward difficult people is to believe the best of them. Perhaps we’ve allowed ourselves to be poisoned by the gossip of others about this individual. Or have we jumped to a wrong conclusion about them based on one or two unfortunate incidents? Believing the best of others can often be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We don’t hear much about the Golden Rule these days, but it refers to treating others as we would like to be treated. Practicing the Golden Rule can also change our mindset toward difficult people.

Be polite and cordial. Look for something good about this person and focus on that. Look for common ground to launch a conversation or relationship. Avoid confrontation at all costs—simply refuse to argue. Do something kind for this person expecting nothing in return. Compliment them on something—anything: their clothes, their child, their car, their home, anything.

“Gracious words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24 NIV.

Who knows maybe you’ll even find a friend in this difficult individual.

 

©2013 Rob Fischer

What Does a Leadership Coach Do?

 

A couple I know raises draft horses. I was amazed when they explained to me that one draft horse can pull 3,000 pounds of dead weight. That’s a lot! But get this, when two draft horses are yoked together as a team, they can pull 8,000 pounds of dead weight! That’s the power of partnership!

King Solomon said it like this, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NLT) Why would we want to struggle through the issues of life alone when we can accomplish so much more in partnership with someone else? A partnership with a friend or a mentor is a huge step in the right direction, but they may not have the right skills to move us forward.

Professional coaching provides a strategic partnership with an individual to help them succeed. A professional coach has completed extensive training and practice and has demonstrated skill in coaching competencies. Coaching is a proven process for improvement!

As a leadership coach, I have the privilege of partnering with individuals for a variety of reasons. Some may feel “stuck” in a job or career; others recognize they’ve become “stagnant” in a job that they still enjoy; others may be launching and building a new church or business; others want to take their relationships to the next level; and many simply want to strategize and take their next steps toward accomplishing a major goal or project. They all have one thing in common: they want to move forward!

When I coach someone, I coach “the whole person.” What I mean by that is that we are integrated beings. What happens in one area of our lives impacts other areas as well. When we desire to move forward in one area of our life our movement forward will be influenced by factors in other areas. We can’t ignore those other factors, for they can either work for us or against us. All areas of our lives must work in concert.

As a Christian coach, I find this integrated approach not only effective, but very enjoyable. Coaching enables me to serve people in all areas of their lives including helping people move forward in their relationship with Christ. And as they draw closer to Christ, they win in their other relationships, and improve their skills, capacity and perspective on life. In the end, the one thing they set out to accomplish materializes in a succession of wins and real personal growth. Coaching really works!

©2013 Rob Fischer

Ancient Business Wisdom

One of the wisest and richest men of all times opens up the treasures of his wisdom for us in Ecclesiastes. For the past few days I’ve been admiring three of these gems from chapter 11.

Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return. Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2)

Two things strike me from this first passage: first, if we want a return we must take risks. Imagine the context in which this was written. The merchant placing his grain on a ship did so knowing he might lose it all; or, he might gain a handsome profit. But without sending his grain off on the ship, he would never know. We must take risks to receive a return.

This passage also contains the balance to that risk. Diversify investments. Or from the standpoint of the entrepreneur, invest in multiple streams of income. This warns against the “all eggs in one basket” approach.

Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4)

This verse hits human nature between the eyes. There will always be plenty of excuses—a multitude of reasons—why we shouldn’t venture out. If we keep our eyes on those reasons, as convincing as they appear to be, we will never take the first step. Rather than focusing on circumstances and all the reasons why we can’t do something, we need to hunker down and do it. “Fortune favors the bold.”

Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. (Ecclesiastes 11:6)

Be diligent. Persevere. Work hard. We are so fixated on success, that we often fear attempting something that might fail. And if it does fail, we think we have failed—that we’re a failure. But there are many ventures in life for which there is no guarantee—most, in fact. But one thing is sure—if we don’t sow, we won’t reap—period.

Behind these gems of wisdom there’s a prevailing theme in Ecclesiastes that instructs us to trust God. He loves us and provides for us. All we have comes from Him. He is there to comfort and encourage us when our ventures fail.

When God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19)

©2013 Rob Fischer