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Wholeness does not mean perfection; it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness—mine, yours, ours—need not be a utopian dream, if we can use devastation as a seedbed for new life.
~Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness
Coaching with me is similar to spiritual direction in that the work focuses on the sacred core of the client. The significant difference comes in transforming awareness into action. While I still listen deeply with curiosity and without judgement, the awareness into action model changes the observations and questions I offer to the client. At the end of most sessions, the client has a few items they are going to specifically explore, engage or take action.
What happens in a session greatly depends on how the client wishes to use coaching. For new clients, enough time needs to be initially spent for me to understand the person, their setting and their situation. This can take a little time, but is worth the investment.
Coaching usually examines several key components:
Self-Care/Sabbath Keeping: Most clients come to me exhausted and depleted. If a client is not taking proper care of themselves, there is nothing else that I can do for them: they will not be capable of the “stomach and spine” of good leadership and skills will too easily become weapons. This is where I start with all clients; this is the initial check-in of a session. And, this is the most common action item that I suggest to clients at the end of a session.
Stomach and Spine: to be a good leader is to know sabotage — from ones own self, as much or more than from others. After self-care and sabbath keeping, developing an awareness of our sacred core and supporting it with resiliency and risk-tolerance is crucial. Leadership will always be difficult; without a strong “stomach and spine,” it becomes impossible. I listen very closely to how a client tells their story and use a lot of tools and techniques from neuroplasticity to facilitate a movement away from learned helplessness and hopelessness to hardiness.
Skills: a lot of clients enter coaching to sharpen or learn new skills. Common topics are supervision, developing an interior sense of executive presence, working with difficult people, and growing from “good to great” as a leader.
Situational Support: clients often want coaching for specific situations, such as: a “search and call” process for a new job, entry into a new position, on-boarding a new staff person, leading a capital campaign or other major initiative, or help with a specific relationship within the organization.
I have been ordained for over 25 years and am an Authorized Minister in the United Church of Christ. Most of my ministry has been as the senior minister of multi-staff congregations. I last served Central UCC in Atlanta for 10 years, a congregation with total annual giving around $1 million, a thriving senior adult day program, and a large campus. I've also served as an associate minister and chaplain to both a school and a hospital.
My practice primarily focuses on clergy, judicatory executives, and non-profit leaders. However, I have coached folk from a great variety of settings in my 15-year practice.
Depending on the work and the goals, most clients meet with me for 60 minutes once a month or 30 minutes more frequently. Of course, during the initial period or in a “crisis,” most meet with me more frequently.
Coaching happens in person, on the phone, or through video technology.
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