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

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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.

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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

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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

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A Key to Personal and Professional Growth

Andy Stanley, author of Next Generation Leader and national leadership guru explains the importance of coaching to take you where you want to be. He says, “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be.” 

That may seem like a bold statement, but consider this, if we could make the changes that we all need to make and do so without the input of others, wouldn’t we have done so already? What’s holding us back?

Whether we’re in business or ministry, ultimately our work is all about relationships with people. So it makes sense that the best way to increase our relational influence with others is by relational means. That’s where a coach comes in.

Leaders must take initiative, own responsibility, problem solve, make decisions, and influence others to get things done. One of the reasons that coaching is such a powerful tool for developing leaders is that coaching naturally calls upon the leader to exercise and stretch his/her ability in those areas.

A core tenet of the adult learning process is that “people don’t argue with their own data.” In other words, people are far more likely to follow through with and succeed at goals that they generate as opposed to taking someone else’s advice. Coaching strives to help the leader design their own goals, solutions, action steps, and accountabilities. Coaching works.

Unleash your potential with the help of a coach!

Click here for more information.

Thanks,

Rob Fischer, Leadership Coach

 

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Why Would I Need a Life Coach?

Obviously, no one needs a life coach in the same way we need air to breath, water to drink, or other basic requirements for existence. But we can say that a person needs a life coach from the perspective of having someone who is committed to their well-being, development and fulfillment of their life purpose. Much like a sports coach, a life coach can help us identify and capitalize on our strengths and skills to improve “our game.” The coach’s role is to help the “player” succeed.

A life coach can help us:
• Break out of patterns in which we’ve been stuck
• Transition gracefully through tough life changes
• Maximize our strengths even beyond what we thought we could do
• Excel in our relationships
• Craft a life purpose and build strategies for achieving it

The authors of Becoming a Professional Life Coach explain, “A powerful attraction of life coaching is having a partner who is committed to helping people develop and implement their ideal life. Life coaching also provides a sense of connection, belonging, and significance in a world that can sometimes seem isolating, overwhelming, or both. Coaches also keep people focused, challenged, and motivated for living their personal and professional lives on purpose.”*

Life coaching is becoming “the prevailing strategy for personal development—the most common way to learn to identify strengths and use them to overcome obstacles and challenges while pursuing possibilities. People today need connection with a mentor, coach, or guide more than ever before due to the rapid pace of change, the difficulty of sustaining relationships, and the desire to fulfill one’s life purpose.”

In their book, Co-Active Coaching, the authors marvel at the rate with which coaching is sweeping the world—growing exponentially. “It is as if there were an unmet need in the world, in every corner, and that unmet need is hungry for what coaching offers.”**

Rob Fischer, Life Coach

*Patrick Williams and Diane S. Menendez, Becoming a Professional Life Coach, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007), p. xxiii.
**Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl and Laura Whitworth, Co-Active Coaching, (Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2011), p. x.

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A Spiritual Inversion

Every fall in the Northwest we experience a weather pattern called an “inversion”. An inversion weather pattern creates overcast and foggy conditions in the valleys making it cold, damp and dismal. The valleys and low areas are where most people live and work, so they’re often oblivious to the fact that the depressing weather they’re experiencing is localized.

Sometimes an inversion will go on for days and can feel very oppressive. But travel a couple thousand feet higher in elevation during an inversion and you’ll burst out of the fog and dampness into warm, dry sunny skies. Not only is the sunshine revitalizing, but the view from above the clouds provides a bigger perspective on life.

All of us from time to time experience an “inversion” in our spiritual lives as well. We seem to get buried under the clouds of our daily grind. We forget the sunshine of God’s grace and presence and feel oppressed by trials and hardship. If relationships around us have grown cold our discomfort deepens and we may become joyless, sad and even depressed.

When we begin to feel a spiritual inversion coming on, the worst thing we can do is isolate in the valley and dark corners of our existence. And yet that is precisely what we are prone to do. Instead, climb above the oppressive spiritual fog and expose yourself to the warmth of God’s presence and love. There are several ways we can do this.

If you find yourself slipping into or immersed in a spiritual inversion, spend time in God’s Word—lots of it. Devour it like you would a hearty meal on a cold day. Let his Word warm your soul and lift you up. Spend time in the Psalms or the Gospels. Rehearse the promises of God from great chapters like Romans 8 or Hebrews 11. Go to God’s Word to meet with him. “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

Another method for climbing out of the fog and dampness of spiritual inversion is to spend time talking to God, thanking him and praising him for his goodness and faithfulness. In the face of trials and even the humdrum of daily life, we so quickly forget how awesome, how great, how majestic our God is! Tell him anew what you know to be true of his character and works in your life.

“I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.” (Psalm 145:1-2) Read the rest of that Psalm and make it your personal prayer.

A third powerful means for getting out of the spiritual fog and darkness of despair is to spend time with a trusted friend or spiritual partner. When we’re hurting we often crawl into a hole and mope, which only worsens our condition. Force yourself to seek out someone who can pray with you and challenge you. Don’t be satisfied with a friend who adds to your gloom by merely empathizing with you. Spend time with another follower of Christ who will lift you up and challenge you to higher ground.

The following Proverbs describe the kind of words you want others to speak into your life:
• “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” – Proverbs 10:11
• “The lips of the righteous nourish many.” – Proverbs 10:21
• “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom.” – Proverbs 10:31
• “The lips of the righteous know what is fitting.” – Proverbs 10:32
• “The tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18

May God lift you out of spiritual inversion!

©2009 Rob Fischer

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