Pastor Mike was sitting and ruminating yet again on the big issue of the week like a cow chewing its cud. The deadline for a solution was coming fast which made the issue more foreboding. As the stress built, the solution became only murkier; like walking into a deep forest at dusk, the forest was obvious but the path was hidden!
In walked a friend who said, ”What’s up?” As he started trying to explain his issue, his friend responded by asking a few questions. “The questions had a strange effect on me,” Mike said. “They forced me to ’think out loud’ and to get all my murky thoughts out into the light.” Before he knew it, the solution was clear; the path through the forest became illuminated. Mike knew how to get where he needed to be, on time, with solution in hand.
Pastor Mike never forgot that day. Once he realized what had happened, he needed to know more than just the solution to his challenge. He needed to know how his friend helped him without telling him what to do. After all, the way Mike usually tries to help is not by asking and listening, but by talking and telling.
“Wait a minute! How did you do that?” Mike asked his friend.
“Lead me to the solution. I’ve been working on this for hours, then you walk in and ‘poof’ there it is!”
The friend’s response was very intentional, “I did not lead you anywhere, because I have no knowledge of the issue apart from what I just learned from you. You did this yourself. The solution was in you all the time.”
It turns out that his friend is a trained coach. The questions were tools he used to assist him to discover Mike’s solution, not the coach’s solution. Simple, direct, thought provoking questions, well-timed and well-stated gave Mike time to process and gain clarity on the solution that he had trapped inside.(1)
As printed in the 2015 Network ConneXions
1 Mike O’Dell, Christian Coaching Magazine, February 13, 2013.