Two summers ago I was determined to build a deck on my house, and I had a plan. However, there were a few obstacles in my way, namely knowledge, skill, and tools. That’s not a problem; is it?
Enter, my friend David. Although not an expert builder himself, David had the understanding needed to walk with me through the process. He believed in me when I doubted myself. He challenged my assumptions and encouraged my ingenuity. Plus, he had the tools.
The right tools in the right situation made all the difference. Having the right tools opened new worlds of possibility for me. They made the complex, more manageable – and in some cases, easy.
My friend helped me get started. He introduced me to the appropriate tools. He helped me think through how to lay the foundation. He even helped me with the heavy lifting. But make no mistake – the deck was mine. My design. My ideas. My investment. But I could not have done it, certainly not as well, without David and his tools.
This parallels perfectly with coaching. I work with quite competent and influential leaders – some are emerging in their leadership, others are very established. But both emerging and established leaders hit walls and get stuck in both their careers and personal lives. They look for new possibilities and room for development. This is where good coaching tools can help unlock new ideas, new habits, new relationships, and new action which enable them to get UN-stuck and build further!
Over the next few months, I’ll share a few coaching tools that have greatly helped me personally. They have also aided client after client when the appropriate tool was introduced at the appropriate time.
They are all profound. They are all profoundly simple. Here’s coaching tool #1:

The Right Coaching Tool: Circles of Concern and Responsibility

Step 1 – Drawing the Tool. Begin with the larger circle – the circle of Concern.

These are all the things that concern us about a situation, relationship, circumstance, etc.
Possible questions to ask:

  • “What are your concerns around _____________ (this relationship, this difficulty at work, this new pursuit, etc.)?”
  • “When you are thinking about _________________, what comes to mind?”
  • “What emotions surface?”
  • “What does God say about this situation?”

Step 2 – Draw the inner circle. This is Circle of Responsibility.

Possible questions include:

  • “What is your role in _______________(this relationship, this difficulty at work, this new pursuit, etc.)?”
  • “Where is God calling you to act? To not act? To trust Him?”
  • “How are you to respond?”
  • “What are your possible next steps in this situation?”

Step 3 – Explain the challenge – where to draw the inner circle!

Some leaders tend to extend their circle of responsibility way too far out – taking on more than God has called them to be responsible for, which can lead to worry, anxiety, and control. Others tend to shrink the inner circle – failing to act where they need to take responsibility. Laziness / Apathy / Fear
Whether the situation is relational, circumstantial, or in the realm of possibility – Where are the client’s areas of Concern and Responsibility?
If it is only in the area of Concern – it is a matter of Prayer! If it is in the area of Responsibility – it is a matter of Action!

Step 4 – Getting to the core of the matter. Where is their heart in this situation?

  • “You are concerned about much in this area. What is your responsibility here? Where is God calling you to act?”
  • “Where do you need to release that concern to the Lord?”
  • “What would it look like to take responsibility for your part?”
  • “What are possible next steps for both circles?”

Apply this coaching tool to a current challenge you are facing. What are your concerns? Where are you called to take responsibility? Then use this too to walk through the four steps with a friend or client this week.

This concept comes from Paul Tripp’s book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. I trust you will find this tool helpful.
And a special word of thanks to David – your friendship and tools not only helped build a great deck but also illustrated life lessons and cemented memories for a lifetime!

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