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Intersection of Life and Faith

Coach People to Take Risks

  • Gary R. Collins Guest Author
  • 2001 26 Nov
Coach People to Take Risks
Good coaches, like all good leaders, are risk-takers. We guide people into new ventures and encourage them to take on fresh challenges they might have neither the courage nor the insight to embrace otherwise. Such risk-taking is always threatening. It moves us away from our places of comfort and into unfamiliar territory. Some people, the more adventurous, do it better than others. Most of us do it best when we have a guide or a coach to encourage us along the way, to help us anticipate obstacles in the road, to assure us that ultimate success is possible.

Leaders and leader-coaches can help people take risks and increase the likelihood of success. Consider the following:

Stimulate confidence. Picture a toddler standing at the edge of a swimming pool, looking at the outstretched arms of her father who's standing waste deep in the water encouraging her to jump. She wants to make that leap, but she's scared. At times we're all like that. We need self-confidence, the belief that we can do it, the assurance that we won't get hurt. Those beliefs are hard to hold if we've jumped in the past and failed or if we've been told repeatedly -- maybe by a parent or teacher -- that we can't do it and we'll never succeed. Coaches stimulate confidence by teaching skills, encouraging reachable small steps, modeling what they want to teach, and showing that they believe in the protégé. Maybe nothing motivates us more than the realization that someone significant believes in us and won't be dissuaded from that belief.

Give feedback. As part of His training program, Jesus sent out 72 people in pairs, telling them to preach, heal, and spread the Word about the Kingdom of God. When they returned, they all got together for feedback. Maybe Jesus listened to their stories, cheered their efforts, and gave them coaching hints about how they could do better next time. They rejoiced because of what had been done and praised God because of how He was working. This feedback must have built confidence in the 72, filling them with encouragement to go out again.

Receiving consistent, specific, honest, and loving feedback motivates people. Unless they see and experience the effects of what they do, they'll lose inspiration and stop moving forward.

Keep hope alive. Leaders specialize in keeping hope alive, and so do coaches. When the disciples began to realize that Jesus was serious about dying and leaving, they got pretty anxious. So the Lord started His final instructions with words of hope. "Don't be troubled," he said. "Trust in God. Know that you won't be alone. Be assured that your future is secure. Expect the Holy Spirit to come soon to comfort and guide you. Don't be afraid. You'll have peace. God is in control."

When hope is missing, coaching is rarely effective. Like parents who stay at the side of their young children as they start to walk, good coaches stay with their PBCs [people being coached] to give hope and encouragement, especially when they make those first action steps forward. We're more inspired to move forward when a leader or coach recognizes our efforts and shares the conviction that we can do even better.

Think EPIC. In describing our increasingly influential postmodern generation, futurist Leonard Sweet suggests that the church needs to take what he calls an EPIC approach -- an approach that emphasizes individual experience, participation, image, and connectedness. Most of the people we coach don't want how-to-do-it lectures from aloof teachers dispensing advice. They want involvement at every stage of the coaching. They want to participate in the process of clarifying the issues, determining where they are, getting a vision and mission, coming up with a strategy, and taking action to make the plan work. They can't remove obstacles to their progress unless they have a say in how they will be handled. People in our postmodern culture are into stories, metaphors, symbols, fantasy games, and images on screens. They want ownership in any plan and they value connectedness with others.

Experience, participation, image, and connectedness are at the essence of effective modern coaching. Building confidence, giving feedback, and stimulating hope are equally important.

Excerpted from Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential Into Reality, copyright 2002 by Gary R. Collins. Used by permission of NavPress, Colorado Springs, Colo., www.navpress.com. All rights reserved. For copies of the book, call 1-800-366-7788.

Gary R. Collins, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and author of more than 50 books. He was the first president of the American Association of Christian Counselors and currently heads an international alliance of Christian counselors committed to uniting and building Christian caregiver leaders worldwide.

Have you ever coached someone through the process of taking a risk before? Has someone ever coached you as you pursued a dream? If so, how did the coaching prove valuable? Visit Live It's forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.