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Living Life with Purpose

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Coaching Tips and Exercises

Lessons learned about coaching, including good questions to ask or exercises to use for yourself.

Inspired Change

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Have you ever found yourself in a place where you know something has to change but you aren’t sure what next step to take? Have you stayed in a place out of a sense of obligation when you know something isn’t right? Have you wondered if it is time to move on yet you feel trapped or you fear the change?

I think we all have these struggles from time to time. Change is a choice. We can choose to stay in the uncomfortable zone and ‘suffer through’ it or we can choose to ask for help to discern which next step to take. For me, this decision starts with prayer and asking others to pray with me so that I can get out of my head and away from emotions that might influence my decision to stay or to bolt.

Continue reading “Inspired Change”

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Pushing Through

I am no a fan of the cold. I am much happier in my flip flops and a little sweater. But it looks like winter isn’t going to skip us this year after all and I have to face that reality. I have to push through my belief that we should be warm all year and face the fact that I am going drag out my coat.

Life is like that. We have choices to make about where we are today and where we want to be tomorrow. We need to look at what we need to change to improve our circumstances and decide if we are going to commit to that change. We may have to do things we would prefer not to do to get where we need to be.  Or are we going dig in and wait for the world to come around?

Be proactive! 

Look to the future with anticipation. If that means you have to make some changes today, then make some changes. If you have to put your boots on and drudge through some snow and mud to get to the other side, then be willing to do it and do it! If you have to set aside your flip flops for a while because it’s the right thing to do, then put them away until you are in a better place to enjoy the things you love.

A young man I know loves to play hockey. Unfortunately he has suffered another concussion and he has made the choice to step out as a player. It is a hard choice but he has realized that the long-term effects could negatively impact the rest of his life. He still loves the game and will find a new way to engage. He is hanging up his pads and facing the reality that something has to change for him to move forward. It won’t be easy, but it is what is best.

Maybe there is something from which you need to disengage to improve your circumstances. Maybe you need to add something to step towards your goal. Consider what that might be and share that idea with someone. Ask them to pray with you and to support you as you transition. 

Create a new positive and healthy reality. Push through that which holds you back and embrace the possibility of what can be. 

Bridging the Vision Gap

Have you ever had a vision and been overwhelmed by the thought of what it will take to reach your goal? This can happen when we aren’t sure how we will get from where we are to where we want to be. The gap may seem far too wide to overcome, especially if we focus too much on those final steps that will bring our dream to fruition. We may even feel as if we are sitting in the fog, full of ideas and yet uncertain how to implement a plan.

I am a planner. I like to lay out all the necessary steps I will execute to achieve my end-goal. This includes all the things I don’t know how to do or the things that are out of my control. If I look too far ahead I am likely to freeze in place because these things seem too insurmountable to me. For example, I am building a ministry for singles. I believe that God has given me a vision for this ministry; however, I have so many questions about the organizational structure, finances, and who will attend our gatherings that I find myself too overwhelmed to move ahead.

I am overwhelmed first by the vision and mission and secondly by the demands on me as the leader of something I have wanted to do for the last 30 years. Thankfully, I have wonderful spiritual advisors and partners who have counseled me to just start. I have stepped out in faith without worrying about what will happen on the journey and without answers to all of my questions. I am taking one step after another, prayerfully considering each step and in consultation with others who hold me accountable. We are getting closer to launching the ministry and with each day I am gaining more clarity about what to do next.

So what does this mean for you? If the answer to my first question is, “yes, I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know what to do,” I would suggest you write your vision and mission statement. Then consider where you are and where you want to be and write down some of the major milestones you need to accomplish to close the gap. Once you lay out your milestones, start at the first milestone and list the most important things you need to accomplish to reach that milestone. If you are able, go to the next milestone and describe the actions you need to complete for each subsequent milestone. Write them down even if you have no idea how you will complete them. By the time you have written down the milestones you need to achieve you will see that it is much easier to bridge the gap from here to there. Post your plan somewhere as a visual reminder of your first objective and to all that you have accomplished as you move closer and closer to the final result.

Take the first step now. Pray about the others. Trust that God will guide you and as you experience success in those first steps, build confidence that God will get you through the rest.

Be bold. Be fearless. Step forward!

Grief Life

We planned for our future.

We had a vision for our lives.

Together we would do this.

Then one day;

You were gone.

The future we planned no more.

The vision detached,

Distrupting my life.

No more together adventures.

Me alone

The world turned upside down.

New plans to imagine.

New routines to make.

New life to find;

With others.

Stuck between what was,

What is, and yet to come.

Pulling myself forward,

Out of the dark;

Into the unknown.

Looking for his plan in this.

Holding onto faith.

Yearning for love.

Hiding from tears.

Praying for me.

Resting in his will.

Trusting in his love.

Shattered pieces healing.

New life emerging;

Breathing…living

Finding new purpose.

Walking a new path.

Willingly restored.

Stepping forward.

From grief to life.

A Season of Purpose

Living with purpose isn’t about how much we do. It is NOT about making ourselves feel better or relevant. Living with purpose is about having a heart for others that compels us to serve our brothers and sisters. Purpose is the result of a changed heart that propels us into action, with little thought about what we get out of it. It is a heart that overflows with excitement to be there for another human—to share our love and our gifts that someone’s life too may be changed. Continue reading “A Season of Purpose”

Chasing the Wind to Find Pleasure

Whether you are an early boomer or a late boomer, I think it is a fair assumption that we are a generation looking back and wondering how we ever got where we are today. Some of us hang onto our hippy roots and others have suited up and left Woodstock far in their past. No matter where you have been, it is the now that matters the most. Even as we contemplate our purpose and life-vision for the retiring years of our lives, it is what we do today that will make the difference in our tomorrow.

Solomon writes about his life journey—the riches and success he gained only to be left feeling empty. He tried pleasure-seeking, only to become more distraught by the lack of joy in his life and the rut he now found himself living. I mean this is the guy who worked hard at finding happiness and yet he still struggled to find happiness in his circumstances. He had it all, and still he felt as if he had nothing. Ever feel that way? I know I have. Continue reading “Chasing the Wind to Find Pleasure”

Joyful Anticipation

Author and coach, Gary Collins writes that our visions “must be about potential for the future but anchored in the realities of the present.”[1] Our vision is about where we want to go and are best achieved when we are enthusiastic about achieving our goal(s). Having a joyful anticipation about our future will keep us moving forward when we encounter obstacles or stumbling blocks on our journey. We need to be mindful that there will be times when it seems like there is little progress forward. If we are not careful, those are the times our vision might fade.

So you have a vision. You wrote it down. You shared it with another person. You prayed. You asked others to pray. And now you are thinking about implementing your vision. When your vision began to emerge you probably were excited and overjoyed because you could see a purpose for your life. You knew what God was calling you to do. You were overjoyed and anticipating living the dream.

And then you realized that the end goal is farther away than you would like. You can see where you are and where you want to be and it is a huge cavern.

There are times when the anticipation of achieving our goals or living the vision may overwhelm us and we avoid setting smaller, achievable target goals. I’m what StrengthFinders calls an “activator.” I want to get on down the road. I have a ‘let’s get it done” mentality. I don’t do slow. I am frustrated because I have been told by experts that it may take three years or more to successfully achieve my vision. At times I have lost the joy and questioned the vision, only to talk to others and realize that I am not working the plan. I am trying to cut corners and becoming frustrated because I haven’t laid a strong enough foundation to keep the process moving forward. The joy returns when I am willing to step back and do what needs to be done, trusting that with every day I am moving closer to the goal

This is the building the bridge to fill the gap time. This is the time for thinking about short-term goals that you can readily achieve and upon which you can build some success. This is the time to start asking the tough questions about where you are, where you want to be, and how you will get there. It is time to develop an action plan that you will commit to executing. Bridge planning is critical to closing the gap and maintaining your joy while keeping the vision in your sights.  You need to start from where you are. If you start building your bridge without laying those first few planks—boring as it may seem—your bridge will collapse and you may begin to think you were wrong about your vision.

Don’t let your lack of planning undermine your joy and take away the anticipation for your future. If you have been fortunate enough to discover your vision, articulate your vision by writing it down and sharing it with someone you trust. You are looking down a long tunnel and it is important that you clarify the image of your vision. No matter how clear our vision seems it will become blurry if you fail to also articulate the steps you will take to get from here to there. Don’ t let a lack of planning steal your joyful anticipation for the future.

“Passion is empowering. You may bludgeon it, suppress it, squash it, or lose sight of it, but it is a given, a constant. Your passion is ready and willing to provide all the stamina and inspiration you need.”

Richard Chang, The Passion Plan as read in Christian Coaching, Gary R. Collns.

[1] Collins, Gary R. (2009) Christian coaching: helping others turn potential into reality. NAVPRESS: Colorado Springs, CO

Measure Your Day

It’s a new month. It’s the start of a new week. It’s time to evaluate where you are, where you want to be, and what you need to do bridge that gap. It’s time to plan for the month, the week, and the day ahead. It is time to make every day count.

Each day that we are given is a day to build on all the previous days and each one of those days lays a foundation for our future. Therefore, it is important that you invest your time doing something, no matter how small, to move you closer to reaching your goal. What’s that you say? Yesterday was awful. You couldn’t find time to do anything to support your goal? You are stuck in a job that doesn’t align with your long-term goal.  Are you filled with “I can’t…,”  “I didn’t…,” and “I wish…” statements that are holding you back and focused on your lack of success?

If you look back and all you see is failure and you feel like you will never get to where you want to be; it is time to change your thinking about those situations!

Every day provides an opportunity for you, even the days that didn’t go so well for you.  You have to be willing to find that opening, rather than focus on all the other thousands of moments that don’t match your plan. All it takes is one action each day to keep moving forward. You have to decide what that action is today and then do it. Maybe that action is looking at what didn’t work so well yesterday and correcting how you will respond today. Maybe it is looking for something new that supports your long-term goal, even if it means taking a risk. And maybe it is as simple as accepting that you are where you need to be today because this is the point from which God wants you to grow. Maybe you aren’t stuck; you just aren’t seeing the potential in where you are in your life today.

It’s the season for basketball and hockey playoffs. I have watched these players rise to the challenge after a night of demoralizing loss. They have a choice—throw in the towel and book their flights home or come out ready to win. They have to believe that they can rise above their setback and believe that today they can be more productive. Some teams will of course end up packing their bags as another team moves forward toward the shiny trophy. For those who leave unsatisfied there is no question that they will look at what didn’t work and make a correction—build on their ‘failure’ to improve in the next game or the next series. Even the winners are looking at what didn’t work so that they can improve their odds in the next game. They never stop trying to be better. They never stop working their plan, even if it is to watch tapes or talk to someone about their performance.

Are you looking at your ‘failures’ and ‘mistakes’ as a way to improve? Are you capitalizing on what doesn’t work so you can find what does?

If you are going to focus on what has yet to happen for you or what you did wrong or how difficult your journey forward is, you will never reach your goal. I can almost promise you that. However, if you are going to look at the missed opportunities or mistakes in the previous days, I suggest you do it with an eye to make some course corrections. Do not focus on what didn’t work but focus on how to improve today. Although there may be some things beyond your power to change right now, you have the power to make where you are work for you. Ask yourself what you can do in the midst of your circumstances to build a bridge, plank by plank, in your plan. Don’t waste another minute measuring your failures. Measure your day by what you have done right and what you will do right in the moments ahead. Measure your day by what God is doing in your life and find joy in knowing that you can learn and grow and keep moving forward. It will change everything you do to simply measure your day well.

“What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?” Job 6:11

We’re all Superheroes

Each of us has skills, talents, and ‘super powers’ with which we have been gifted. Some of us may speak while others prefer to write. Others love speaking in front of groups and teaching. Some of us use our gifts to help others. Sometimes our gifts are intended to bring joy to others. Some get ideas that others figure out how to implement. The list of gifts and how we use them goes on and on, but I think you get my point. You have something that you feel most comfortable doing and you don’t understand why someone else is uncomfortable doing what you do. It is your gift. Their “power” is something different and most likely not your gift.

I used to measure my self-worth against the gifts of those around me. For example, I can’t do math to save my life. I shudder at numbers and live in fear that someone will discover that I can barely add. I hide my inability because I am afraid that other people will think that I am stupid or uneducated. The fear of math is one of the main reasons I did not finish my college degree until I was in my 40s. I was terrified that I would not pass my math class and not graduate. Numbers are not my gift.

I love to write though. I love communicating, including giving speeches or speaking in front of crowds. I also seem to have a knack for organization and administration and often find myself wondering why my friends are not more organized and structured. I try to teach them my skills but to no avail. In my mind they refuse to embrace the process. I even once developed an analytic framework to help students organize their research and writing. They loved the process even though they didn’t fully use it! My skills are not their skills.

Can you imagine how it is to be a superhero and recognize your power for the first time? There is a slow realization that you have been given something special. You experiment to see how your powers work. You begin to accept that you have something supernatural that no one else has. And then you enter a phase of celebration and excitement for your gift—like a new toy to play with. Maybe you recognize that you have been given a talent to  for good. And then you see other superheroes with different talents. You don’t envy their talent because you know what you have is just as special as that which has been given to them. And then you realize how together you are a powerful unit that can change the world.

When we come together in a group, organization, or ministry we will discover that we all bring different talents to the table. If we are fortunate, we will find that in bringing our superpowers together we might create something almost supernatural. It is far better to celebrate our differences and the ways in which we complement each other as part of a system. An effective project/program leader should explore what each person believes to be their personal gifts. We may need to take a little time at the beginning to ask questions of each other and to record each person’s gifts to determine how we fit together and complement each other. Remember to ask the right person to do that for which they are gifted. You will most likely find yourself with a happier and much more enthusiastic group. You may even find a surprise talent in the pack that you didn’t know you needed.

I like to think of this system process as God’s way of teaching us to see the value and worth in others. If we think that only our talent is needed or that only certain talents add value, then there is no need for building a team. This applies to mission or ministry teams as much as those teams we build in organizations and businesses.  However, if you want to work to build a successful and cohesive group or committee, then take the time to look at what gift God has given each person and be willing to let God’s full vision come to life. Unleash the superhero in each person!!

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