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Coaching is like knitting

Yarn for knitting

Coaching can be hard to describe. Naomi Garcia suggests that knitting–making and connecting loops into something attractive and useful–is similar to the coaching experience.

NAOMI GARCIA
Michigan Conference Associate Director for change, systems, conflict…4 good.

Coaching is like re-knitting. Skeins, or lengths, of yarn appear orderly; until one of the ends proves elusive. (Fast forward past the tedium.) A skilled knitter’s making and connecting loops changes the practical ball of yarn into something desirable, attractive, and useful. I have witnessed many sagas of learning to knit. There are frequent “help me” and “I’ll just throw it out!” expressions. At some point, an inexperienced knitter may say something like, “You can’t take out a knitting project to re-use the yarn.” A sage knitter may retort, “Sometimes the used yarn adds texture to the new [whatever].” The experienced knitter speaks like a coach. 

Coaching thrives best on the principle that no one’s personhood is too far gone to add texture. Coaching can help someone re-knit a life to be more consistent with one’s unique God-design of aspirations, skills, gifts, and circumstances. 

“Therapeutic” and “surprising” are common descriptors I hear of coaching. Unlike therapy, though, coaching focuses on the future. The therapeutic effect of coaching is both immediate and long-term.  The surprise is often in the fluidity of the coaching journey or the discovery during coaching.

 

“Getting started in a new appointment with a coach was the smoothest it’s ever been before.”

 

Referring to their experience of being coached, I’ve heard some say things like, “I had no idea I already knew how to do what I want to do” and “I’m usually nervous before a coaching session. And I always feel affirmed, calm and confident after coaching.”

I am pleased to be the lead coach for the Michigan Conference coaching initiative. In partnership with Coaching4Clergy, I train coaches to the education standards of the International Coaching Federation. MiConference coaches are highly trained and motivated to support faithful effectiveness. Coaches follow the ear:mouth ratio. The coach speaks only to prompt thinking of the one-being-coached. Forward-thinking question-asking of coaching sets it apart from other helping disciplines.

The objective of coaching is to accompany someone on a journey of tapping into the coachee’s potential. Coaching is all about creating brave and safe space for the one-being-coached. The triad of confidentiality, dedicated thinking time, and the coachee’s who-ness create the bedrock of coaching. This foundation colludes with the processes of self-reflection at the coachee’s own pace. A resulting shift in perspective, emotion, or attitude uncovers new possibilities. An effective coaching conversation ends in movement. A coachee’s movement may be observable in the short term. A shift most often leads to positive change when the coachee follows through by acting on the new perception. In hindsight, seemingly small movements morph a barrier or ‘”situation” into possibilities and hope. 

Coaching is coaching only when at least one motivating action step identified by the one-being-coached. The topic of coaching is determined by that one-being-coached. The coach comes along-side asking questions, offering observations, and asking more questions. Unlike consulting, teaching, or training, the lead thinker is the one-being-coached, not the coach.

 

“Thank you, Michigan Conference, for the gift of coaching.”

 

Another way of thinking about coaching is this 2016 blog by Merci Miglino, a Professional Certified Coach. This link leads to two versions of it: one to read, one to hear

The Michigan Conference field staff offers coaching to connectional leaders experiencing ministry transition. Ministry professionals, pastors, and laity may qualify for the gift of transition coaching, compliments of the Michigan Conference. Follow this link to request a coach. We’ll respond to your request.

The Michigan Conference is always searching for potential coaches.  Follow your wonder.

Sign up for Basic Coach Training,  a coaching introduction for the curious. Register for the next Basic Coach Training scheduled in three parts, May 4, 11, and 18 to try on coaching.

To begin your authorization as a MiConference coach, register for Coach Training Part 1. This coach training is delivered in combinations of asynchronous and live-by-Zoom sessions. The content meets the requirements for MiC coach authorization and ICF credentials.

For more information check out michiganumc.org, keyword coaching, or contact the MiConference staff Jodi Fuller jfuller@michiganumc.org or Naomi García ngarcia@michiganumc.org.

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