Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why I wanted a coach

So, as a next post, I want to explain why I applied for Auburn's Coaching Program, and what I hope to get out of it. The short explanation: I met J.C. Austin, who coordinates the program, at a time I was feeling completely overwhelmed. The possibility of getting some help to sort things out was a godsend, and I seized it.

I wrote J.C.:
It's becoming clear to me that I need to change the way I'm working at my church. I simply can't meet all the expectations - of others or myself. Last night a friend asked me, "How are things at your church?" and "Does your Session know you're feeling overwhelmed?" and I spent the next hour in tears! I've seen therapists before, but I believe that, at this point, the real problem is how I'm working, communicating, setting goals, and accepting limitations. So . . . a coach?

And his response was just great. He said:
I think coaching could be of great help and impact to you, because our major themes are on how to develop resilience as a leader (i.e., thrive in the midst of the overwhelmed-ness of ministry) and how to set and prioritize goals and make measurable progress in your ministry based on the agenda you have as a leader, rather than just responding to whatever seems to be the most urgent problem popping up. Sounds like that's right in the sweet spot of what you're dealing with!

J.C.'s use of the phrase "sweet spot" is what sold me. That isn't a phrase I hear very often. I think it may have reminded me of an old New Yorker cartoon titled "The Sweet Spot of Flu." In it a sick man is lying on the couch. There are two arrows pointing at him which say, "Sick enough to lie on the couch all day watching TV with no guilt whatsoever." and "Not so sick that even watching TV could be treacherous, depending." That J.C. could look at the mess I was describing and claim its possibilities was just really nice.

(By the way, it wasn't really such a mess. Four and a half years into my time at GPPC, things were going well in a lot of ways. But it had been a challenging year for me and a particularly busy fall. I was tired, and I was beginning to see that familiarity with GPPC and the rhythms of the church year was not really making things easier, as I had hoped and expected. To concentrate on my skills as a leader and administrator seemed like a worthy thing to do.)

J.C. described the comprehensive coaching program. It is Lilly-supported, which makes it affordable (THANK YOU, Lilly!). It starts with two days in-residence and continues with 6 months of bi-weekly coaching sessions conducted by telephone. The program ends in June with two more days in-residence. In my next post, I'll tell you some of the we shared last week - the useful stuff I mentioned earlier.

Thanks for listening,


  1. I just remembered my friend Alfred's comment when I first wrote him about the coaching. He had read my application to Auburn and said:
    If I could share briefly an example of how much fun I have with my eyes doing their own version of auto-spell: I first read Question 7 on the application as "7. What are you looking for in a couch? "
    I thought - wow, this counseling program really fine-tunes itself to the client's needs!
    This seems especially funny now in relation to the New Yorker Cartoon.

    And if you who are "members" of this blog got notices about my post three times (as I kept changing the title), sorry. Do you get notices? I have a lot to learn.

  2. "member" answering: nope, I didn't get three notices about your post. No need to fret. :-)

    Thanks for sharing this, Carla.

    (And I have to say that I really love the idea of someone asking you what you're looking for in a couch.)

  3. Thank you for sharing, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and for being so brave to venture out into the blogging world.

    In October I had my first experience being "coached" and wound up in tears in my very first session due to my being simply overwhelmed with my current workload, lifestyle, etc. Since allowing myself to be so honest with my limitations, my values, priorities, etc. I have found that I am being much more communicative and open with others about stress, anxiety, etc. I continue to find my virtual coaching sessions to be extremely valuable. Funny--that "sweet spot" also made it into my coaching!

    Sending you strength and courage as you continue with your own coaching experience!

    I'm still chuckling about the couch...