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Compassion & Comfort

Mar 10, 2021

This morning I had a huge revelation about my practice as a business coach. I came to coaching after twenty years of church ministry. In my work as a missionary and pastor, we sought to help people in their struggles and challenges in life. We called it leaning into the mess. 

Leaning into the mess requires helping people take responsibility for their situation. Sure there are some folks who were victims, but the majority were dealing with the consequences of their own actions. They needed to own their part of creating their mess.

As I think about my relationship with coaching clients and figuring out who my ideal client avatar is. I have seen this shepherd role from the compassion side, concerned about the hurts in people’s lives beyond their business. Maybe it’s a broken relationship, or family issues. My goal was to be a holistic voice in their lives that can help bring comfort. 

That approach was wrong in ministry and it is wrong in serving my clients in coaching. 

My job as a coach is to make them uncomfortable, to challenge their assumptions and push them to growth. My ideal client is not just someone who wants accountability, it is someone who is willing to be uncomfortable in order to grow. 

“True learning (as opposed to education) is a voluntary experience that requires tension and discomfort (the persistent feeling of incompetence as we get better at a skill).”

Seth Godin The Practice

I have allowed myself to be overly focused on my clients comfort, I have been too compassionate in my approach. I know that my approach has been helpful but not the most effective for their growth and for the results that they want to obtain. I can push a little more, push them out of their comfort zone to bring that growth that they desire.

It is my role as their coach to challenge their assumptions, their beliefs and help them experience true learning through their experience and that brings the growth necessary to accomplish their goals. 

“Discomfort is the feeling we all get just before change happens.”

Seth Godin The Practice

It is easy to get focused on comfort and being compassionate and allow my focus to shift to just keeping clients feeling good. Feeling good won’t bring the growth they desire.

It is not my job to help them feel good about themselves, it is my job to challenge them, to push them to discomfort to help them grow where they need to.