What Are You Reaching Toward this Year?

Wow, we’re already halfway through the first month of this new year! I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some stretch-goals that I plan to accomplish this year and it’s high time to get moving on them. Some of my goals are fun: my wife and I plan to go camping in the Grand Tetons with our children and grandchildren; I want to ride my bicycle over 100 miles in one day (and live to tell about it); and I want to begin building a wooden sailboat.

But I also have some more weighty goals that are sure to stretch my abilities, stamina and faith. Specifically, I’m asking God to increase His influence through me this year significantly. I don’t even know what all that means yet, but I believe it will entail writing and coaching among other things and I’ve already begun working on several new books. A primary goal of mine is to continue to aggressively pursue Jesus Christ daily, asking Him to keep transforming my life.

How about you? What is God doing in your life? How will you become more like Christ this year? What will you do differently? In what ways will your faith be stretched this year? What’s one thing in your life you’d like to shed—permanently? What’s one thing you’d like to add to your life—permanently?

Personally, I’ve found that when I engage a leadership coach I gain more clarity quicker; I’m able to remove difficult obstacles to reaching my goals; and I accomplish more. These are also some of the reasons I love coaching. Through coaching, I get to participate in seeing people’s lives changed. And what is so refreshing and rewarding about that is that coaching empowers them to rely on God and the gifts He has given them to continue bringing this about.

In his book, Leadership Coaching, author Tony Stolzfus provides what he calls the Top 5 Reasons to Coach and Be Coached:

  1. Experience More Transformation. Make radical changes in your own life and see more lasting changes in others.
  2. Grow Faster/Get More Done. Accelerate change and accomplish more without overload.
  3. Unleash People. Stop creating dependence and free up you r time by empowering others to take action.
  4. Develop Leaders. Invest more effectively and efficiently in leaders around you to multiply your impact.
  5. Improve Interpersonal Skills. Learn great tools for building deep relationships and having extraordinary conversations.

What would you like to accomplish this year? How about cultivating richer, more fulfilling relationships? Or launching that project you’ve dreamed of for years? How about ditching a habit you’re sick of lugging around with you? Or how about wowing your boss with the completion of a project that’s looming over your head?

Whatever your goal, I’d love to help you get there! Contact me and let’s set up a coaching schedule, roll up our sleeves and get going!

Rob Fischer

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.

Comrades in Arms

Men, here we are again nearing the end of one year and entering a new one. I don’t know about you, but each New Year I try to take stock of my life and where I’m headed. In view of this, which of these statements apply to you?

  • My relationship in Christ seems stale and I want to rekindle my vision for fullness of life in Him.
  • I’m stuck in a sinful or destructive practice and I want to break free.
  • I haven’t been in the Word and praying lately, but I want to solidify these disciplines in my life.
  • My relationship with my wife isn’t what it should be, but I want to love her well.
  • My relationship with my children has deteriorated and I want to rebuild their trust and love.
  • In the New Year I want to renew my focus to courageously follow Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you own one or more of these statements or could add other similar ones. Allow me to share with you what I believe to be the most direct and effective way to live a victorious life in Christ. Whether we are currently struggling not, we all need a comrade in arms.

Most men see themselves as loners. If you find yourself chronically struggling with the same old challenges in your walk with Christ, it’s probably because you’re trying to go it alone. Somewhere along the line we have bought into the deception that we can (should) live the Christian life alone. We think we need to do life and follow Christ on our own and that to team up with a comrade in arms would somehow be a show of weakness—a crutch.

Men, that’s the wrong metaphor! Teaming up with a comrade in arms to follow Christ is no more a crutch than it is for a quarterback to team up with his receiver. We should not attempt alone what Christ meant for us to accomplish in the company of others.

What is a comrades-in-arms partnership? This is a spiritual partnership between two or more men in which they propel each other forward into deeper relationship with Christ. Do you want to move forward in your relationship with Christ? I know of no more effective way to do that than through spiritual partnership. Here are five characteristics of a comrades-in-arms relationship:

Five Characteristics of Spiritual Partnership

  1. Gender-specific. Comrades in arms are men with men and women with women pursuing relationship with Christ. We adhere to this characteristic for the sake of effectiveness and propriety. If you’re married, your wife should be your spiritual partner as well, but men need other men. Look at Jesus’ example with His disciples.
  2. Spend time together in real life. If my comrade in arms only sees me in the context of church or a coffee shop, he won’t see how I interact with my wife and family, or in traffic, or at play. Note how Jesus spent time with His disciples in real life.
  3. Love and care for each other. A comrade-in-arms relationship is mutual and reciprocal. We’ve got each other’s back and we’re there for each other through thick and thin.
  4. Challenge each other boldly from God’s Word. We grant each other permission to ask “tough” questions and we deliberately spur one another on to deeper relationship with Christ. Growth in Christ is not accidental. His call on our lives is still active and relevant: “Follow Me!”
  5. Pray with and for each other. We lead each other into the presence of God through prayer and call on Him to transform us. There is something very powerful when two or more men agree in prayer, calling on the name of Almighty God!

Examples of some “Tough Questions”

  • “What is God doing in your life right now?”
  • “What is God showing you from his Word?”
  • “What one thing in your life is preventing you from enjoying God fully?”
  • “In what ways are you currently leading your wife and family closer to the Lord?”
  • “How well are you loving your wife right now?”
  • “What are your greatest joys/challenges in walking with Jesus right now?”
  • “What’s one thing you’d like to see Christ change in you?”
  • “In what ways is God using you to model Christlikeness to others?”

Let me boldly challenge you with this verse: “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” 1 Samuel 23:16 Who is your Jonathan? Who is your comrade in arms? Don’t go into the New Year without one!

For more information on initiating a comrades-in-arms relationship read my short book, Comrades in Arms—The Power of Pursuing Christ in the Company of Other Men. To order click here.

©2013 Rob Fischer

Our Christmas Gift to You!

Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year!

May you and your loved ones experience a joyous Christmas and a fulfilling New Year as you pursue an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ! “She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NIV)

Our Christmas Gift to You

Rogue_Principles_Cover_for_Kindle

The producers of the movie Rogue Saints and I are pleased to offer you a free Kindle version of the companion book, Rogue Principles! This offer is good for only five days beginning Sunday, December 15 through Thursday, December 19. To obtain your free Kindle version of Rogue Principles please click the Rogue Principles icon during that five day period.

Rogue_Principles_Cover_for_Kindle

Rogue_Principles_Cover_for_KindleDuring the writing of the Rogue Saints movie script, I had the privilege of editing and offering suggestions for the script. As a result of my interaction with the script, I asked Dave Brunk (script writer) and Adam Lubanski (film director) what they thought about creating a companion book or small group study guide to accompany the movie. Dave and Adam gave me the thumbs up and I wrote and published Rogue Principles earlier this year.

In Rogue Principles That Grow Church Community, we look closely at the phenomenon of church community and seek to answer the question of how to grow closer as a church family. The Bible doesn’t come out and tell us, “To function well as a church family, do these ten things.” However, it does give us some powerful principles and guidelines to follow. We’ve identified five Rogue Principles from Scripture to help us function well as a church family. These Rogue Principles yield revolutionary results and radical change.  Rogue Principles is also available in paperback. To order, please click here.

The Movie Rogue Saints

The greatest church diamond heist, romance, comedy, drama, adventure you’ve ever seen!

Rogue Saints Movie

When childhood friends Nick and Dylan run out of money, they remember the story of a huge diamond buried under a church and plot to dig it up without getting thrown in jail. To disguise their efforts, they volunteer for work at the church, but something about the church and its people begin to affect them. The roller coaster of drama, comedy, adventure and romance that ensues leads them to the discovery of a whole different kind of treasure. Rogue Saints is the directorial debut of Adam Lubanski (Interactive Graphic Designer for the Amazing Spiderman, Charlie’s Angels, and more) and is a Christian film unlike anything you’ve seen before. Your whole family is sure to enjoy it.

Focus on the Family/Plugged-In nominated Rogue Saints as the best Christian film of 2012. The Rogue Saints movie is available to purchase online and at many retail stores. Please go to: www.RogueSaintsMovie.com for more information.

I hope you enjoy your free Kindle version of the book, Rogue Principles!

Thanks,

Rob Fischer

Rob and Linda

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

Forgiveness–the Path to Peace and Joy

I can’t think of anything more stressful or emotionally draining than interpersonal conflicts. When we are in conflict with others, our minds are consumed with our pain and their cruelty. Our pride wells up within us and the last thing we want to do is initiate reconciliation with the offender. And yet, that is precisely what we must do.

Someone has said, “Harboring bitterness toward someone is like poisoning ourselves while hoping the offender will die.” Bitterness and withholding forgiveness acts like a force-field preventing us from experiencing peace and joy that could otherwise be ours.

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sinned against us.” Forgiveness is a gift from God. None of us deserves forgiveness. Forgiveness cannot be earned. Yet God in His grace and mercy extends us full forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus Christ when we ask. We cannot earn forgiveness and we err when we expect others to earn forgiveness from us.

When we extend forgiveness to others we are simply offering them what Christ has already given us. Offering forgiveness is holy work. “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:20 NIV)

Finally, if we have a problem with one of God’s kids, we’ve got a problem with God. Jesus charged us, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24 NIV)

Forgiving someone and asking their forgiveness frees us from the prison of bitterness and hate and opens the door to peace and joy. Is there someone in your life to whom you need to extend forgiveness today?

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)

©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

ROI

Return on investment (ROI) seeks to place a value on a business decision, deal, or plan of action. “If I invest this much money, how much more money can I expect in return?”

ROI provides the justification for a business transaction or financial investment. But in our money-driven society, it’s easy to think that we should be able to express every “investment” in terms of ROI.

For example, just two days before Jesus’ crucifixion, He was having dinner with His friends and disciples in a home in Bethany. During the meal, a woman came to Jesus with a bottle of very costly perfume—worth more than a year’s wages—and poured it ceremonially on His head.

Seeing this gesture, Jesus’ disciples became angry with the woman and “rebuked her harshly” for “wasting” this perfume. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor,” they scolded. They grossly devalued her “investment” arguing that she had squandered any financial ROI.

“Aware of this, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’” (Matthew 26:10-13)

Jesus adamantly promised that this woman’s beautiful deed would be declared throughout the world for all time in memory of her. But I don’t think this account is included in the Gospels purely to memorialize her. I think Jesus intends to teach us something significant through her story.

Knowing what we know now, it’s easy for us to be hard on the disciples. But do we behave as they did? During the years my wife and I were serving as missionaries in Austria, we were home on furlough one time raising support. A pastor came up to me and said, “It’s expensive to support a missionary in Austria. Why should we support you when I can support a national pastor in India for $100 a month?”

This pastor was applying ROI to something that transcends monetary valuation. I responded to him, “A hundred dollar investment in an Indian national pastor is a great investment if you want to reach Indians, but if you want to reach Austrians you need a different approach.”

To my shame, I’ve caught myself trying to place a value on an activity or “investment” in others based on its expected return to me. But trying to apply ROI to an “investment” that transcends such measurement (like the disciples did when this woman anointed Jesus) actually cheapens the investment. Our motivations become tainted by money.

Certainly the cultivation of rich relationships falls into the category of investments that defy measurement by ROI. Spending time in prayer or in the Word also transcends ROI evaluation, and I suspect there are many other things that do as well.

How is the Lord speaking to you through this woman’s beautiful deed performed on Jesus? What beautiful acts of service might you perform for others on Jesus’ behalf that transcend ROI evaluation? (See Matthew 25:34-40.)

©2013 Rob Fischer