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Now What? Colleges, Careers, and Life Choices

Now What? Colleges, Careers, and Life Choices

by Eric Scalise, PhD on May 16th, 2022

My wife and I remember the day quite well. Our identical twin sons came home from school one afternoon—only a couple of months before their high school graduation—and announced they had decided to enter the United States Marine Corps. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were still fresh in our nation’s psyche and military operations were already underway in both Afghanistan and Iraq. As parents, we had visions of college and “safe” jobs with a future. When I sat down with our sons, I wanted to make sure they clearly understood all the inherent risks associated with the decision (i.e., a parental lecture), including the reality that Marines, in particular, are usually the first to go into any combat environment. One of my sons looked at me and calmly said, “Dad, how do you know God might not be asking me to die for my country?” End of conversation; now, we dialogue with God on our knees.

When parents observe their teenage sons and daughters wrestling with important choices pertaining to the future, it can be tempting to step in and “do the work” for them. Perhaps this is because of the tendency many parents have to vicariously derive at least part of their own identities and worth through the lives of their children. Mothers and fathers must allow their children to establish a measure of ownership and accountability. A fundamental axiom of human nature to keep in mind is that people usually take better care of what they think belongs to them, including their decisions. For some, it means finding the right career path with job security and for others, the desire to simply live out their dreams. However, it is equally important for parents not to take for granted that young people are automatically informed consumers. The critical key is to find a healthy orientation between providing useful information and guidance and then balancing that with personal responsibility.

The years between 18 and 24 are often characterized by a heightened awareness of identity development. Typical questions might be: Who am I? What do I really want to do in life? What am I good at? What and who is important to me? This process establishes the foundation for one’s unique individuality, which is then more fully expressed during later adulthood. From a developmental perspective, several important tasks must be addressed by young people. These include achieving an adaptive autonomy from one’s parents; formulating a healthy gender identity; internalizing an appropriate set of values, beliefs, and morals; and making primary career choices. Although the process is often seen as influenced by familial, social, and school-based factors, the concept of spirituality as it relates to career development is becoming increasingly relevant because of the complex, transitional dynamics and interconnectedness normally associated with this period in a person’s life.

In addition to understanding normal developmental stages, there is a need to acknowledge that the 21st century is increasingly characterized by globalization, the management of information, rapid technological advances, and sociocultural change. It is a fast-paced, push-button, instant everything world. While many young adults are still motivated by potential paychecks, altruistic needs remain high on the list, especially for the millennial generation. The implication is that young people entering the workforce have a significant desire to seek meaning, purpose, and fulfillment from their roles. Indeed, the word vocation is derived from the Latin “vocare” which means “to call.” For many, their career paths are not merely something they do, but also incorporate a deep and passionate sense of calling.

For young adults to effectively navigate these sometimes-turbulent waters, research continues to focus on the importance of self-efficacy as a good predictor of proactive career decision-making. Self-efficacy typically refers to an individual’s ability to successfully approach tasks associated with making choices and to engage them with a high degree of confidence and commitment. Positive family and social support are often difference makers. Young adults need to have the freedom to explore their options, to ask their questions, to develop their self-identities, and to do so in an atmosphere of support and respect.

As John Trent and Gary Smalley point out in their timeless book, The Gift of the Blessing, not very much has been written about how young adults or their parents should approach the reality of leaving home. The authors, drawing on the Old Testament concept of “blessing” among Jewish families, describe the process as incorporating the elements of meaningful touch, a spoken message, expressing high value, something that pictures a special future, and an active commitment to see the blessing come to pass. They further identify certain home environments where the blessing can become distorted. Reasons include an inequitable distribution in how love and affirmation are expressed, when the blessing is placed out of reach, where the blessing is exchanged for a burden, when the home is more like an emotional minefield, where unfair family roles are in operation, and where only part of the blessing is received. The good news for parents is that there are often ongoing opportunities to affirm and bless children, at least in terms of self-concept and in giving permission to rewrite their life scripts.

God Himself recognized the need and value of affirming His Son. As John the Baptist was lifting Jesus out of the Jordan, God’s own voice lovingly expressed His approval and said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, BSB) When our two sons headed off to boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, 17 summers ago—knowing that for a time, they would be outranked even by the mosquitoes there—we simply said, “We love you. We believe in you. We bless you. We are so proud of you.” The letting go process is crucial to the cycle of life, and while harbors, much like homes, are usually places of safety and comfort, they are not what ships were built for. May we always keep the next generation in mind and pass the baton with grace, wisdom, and a joyful blessing.

Eric Scalise, PhD, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the President of LIV Consulting, LLC, the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 42 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, marriage and family issues, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now?

by Rita Murray, PhD on May 4th, 2022

Communicating Across Generations 

Generational gaps between us in the workplace are growing both in number and in size. The ability to spot and bridge them has become a critical competency for leaders, life coaches, and more. Our current obsession with digital connectivity has certainly changed the nature of communication and given all of us far more options to reach out to others. It has also spurred conflict in the workplace, as many millennials feel held back by inflexible or outdated working and communication styles. What are the roots of this conflict? Different generations tend to favor and rely on their preferred communication tool. Check out these differentiating insights.

Traditionalists – Born between 1920 – 1946

In the 40’s and 50’s, there was a model of fixed working time and place suited to the industrial age. Communicating face-to-face had a known human element to it—no anonymity. Families gathered around the radio for news and entertainment. Farm and assembly machinery represented the type of work equipment this generation encountered and used most frequently.

Baby Boomers – Born between 1947 – 1964

In the 60’s and 70’s, computers were too big and expensive for home use. Businesses used mainframe/minicomputers to process data for decision-making. Younger “Boomers” discovered “dumb terminals” in college and high school where they keypunched code and solved certain kinds of problems.

Generation X – Born Between 1965 – 1980

This generation was shaped by a culture of gadgets and tools in the 80’s and 90’s, foremost among them was the personal computer (PC) introduced in the early 80’s. This innovation helped foster a sense of personal and private initiatives among “Gen Xers.” Portable for use in homes and schools, the PC became a way to gain a competitive edge in an expanding global economy.

Millennials – Born between 1981 – 2000

First wave Millennials (born 1981-1990) entered a workplace of browsers, email, the World Wide Web (WWW), Windows, cable television, Google, and WiFi . . . learning together how to connect and communicate. Second wave Millennials (born 1991-2000) gained greater autonomy over where, when, and how they worked through various “smart” devices. Thus, the line between work and home has become increasingly blurred, and most prefer to communicate electronically rather than face-to-face or over the telephone.

Cloud Generation – Born since 2001

Smart personal devices and social media tools have always been available anytime/anywhere to members of the Cloud generation and their “the sky’s the limit” orientation. Expect accelerated and intense clashes over communication as more than eight in ten of this generation say they sleep with a cell phone by their bed. A generational lens provides a powerful and easy-to-use “set of handles” to actively engage in asking, discovering, observing, exposing, and communicating vital information and ideas relevant to maximized engagement across the generations. Healthy relationships require deep and meaningful personal connections. Our Generation Translation Workbooks and Interaction Guides help you learn more about these generations and how best to use that information to improve relationships and increase your own effectiveness. Everyone benefits. It’s never too late to get started on refining your generational intelligence (GQ). Can you hear me now?

Rita Murray, PhD, is the Founder and Principal of Performance Consulting, LLC, an organizational development firm, previous CEO and Chairman of a national energy services company, cognitive psychologist, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), executive coach, and sought-after leadership consultant. She has held leadership roles at GE and Lockheed Martin, and is also a private pilot. Rita frequently speaks at leadership events and conferences and is highly regarded for her ability to connect personal and interpersonal development with the needs of business and with mobile and virtual technology. She has a particular gift for explaining the different perspectives of each generation and personality types to create a bridge of understanding toward healthier business relationships and ultimately a stronger bottom line. Rita resides in Moore, Oklahoma, with her husband, Ron. See more at: www.performanceok.com

Second Half Romance: The Best Is Yet to Come

Second Half Romance: The Best Is Yet to Come

by Eric Scalise, PhD on April 18th, 2022

Irish poet, Oscar Wilde, once said, “Men always want to be a woman’s first love and women always want to be a man’s last romance.” My first date with my wife was an absolute train wreck and something I have worked diligently to erase from my memory banks. As I recall, everything that could go wrong . . . and more . . . unfortunately did. I spilled popcorn and soda on her at the movie theater, accidently turned right into two lanes of oncoming traffic when we pulled out of the parking lot, and inadvertently left her standing in the rain after we finished having a bite to eat. Why? Because I lost the car keys. Yes, this all happened in one glorious evening, and that’s not even the whole story. Of course, my beloved maintains I was distracted and merely falling hopelessly in love with her, but I just didn’t realize it yet.

When we went on our second date—two years later (honest)—things went considerably better. We began to fall in love and I knew she was “the one.” I also remember our first kiss. I thought a gentleman would certainly ask, so I looked at her nervously and said, “May I kiss you?” This was followed by total silence. Ladies, this is definitely not playing fair. I waited a few seconds and then said somewhat haltingly, “May I please kiss you goodnight?” Again, nothing but complete silence. My graduate education had simply not prepared me for this critical relationship moment. What did I do? I responded a little tongue-in-cheek and said, “What’s the matter . . . are you deaf?” To which she immediately replied, “No . . . are you paralyzed?” The rest, as they say, is for marriage conferences and articles on romance. Our love grew, we eventually married, and this year we will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary—still the best of friends, lovers, and soul mates.

Human beings were created in relationship, through relationship, and for relationship. Why? So God could reveal Himself and we could know Him. In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes, “That which is known about God is evident within us; for God made it evident to us. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (vv. 1:19-20). Later, Paul provides additional context in Ephesians 5:32 as a “mystery” which is revealed through the holiness of marriage—an institution representing a tangible metaphor regarding the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church.

Let’s pull the curtain back for a moment and go to the beginning of the story. Genesis opens with a palette of unlimited splendor, a breathtaking expression of the Creator and His nature. Much like an artist, God steps back and takes perspective—His passion and glory emerging on a canvas that was once empty and void. There are words of light and life spoken before the darkness. The design is good. The joy is definitive. This is followed by a crowning achievement: His image bearer formed out of the very dust of the earth, and behold, it is very good. He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Then the determination is made that something is not good—man is alone and has no expression for the beauty and intimacy found in the Trinity. Imagine for a moment you are walking with the Lord in the Garden during the cool of the day, enjoying conversation and fellowship with your Creator, when He looks at you and comments it is not good for you to be alone. Had we been there, we may have wondered about the meaning of this peculiar statement. Surely, with God’s literal presence, we could never be or feel alone. Yet, He was speaking about our very nature. The truth is we were designed in such a manner that we also require human relationship along with the divine.

God was not done yet. Woman was fashioned out of Adam, “Male and female He created them” (vv. 1:27). Marriage is acknowledged as part of the heavenly blueprint, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (vv. 2:24). The stain of sin has yet to mar the finished work, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (vv. 2:25).

One flesh—the physical union between a man and a woman—is symbolic of our capacity for the koinonia demonstrated between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is a sacred intimacy at every level—full of unabashed pleasure, joyful celebration, total commitment, and mutual sacrifice, and devoid of all guilt, shame, self-centeredness, malice, jealousy, and unrighteousness. Here, within the sanctity of marriage, we can now see the image-bearers expressing the covenantal agape originating in and through the Image Giver. The relationship is to be held in honor and the marriage bed undefiled (Hebrews 13:4).

The intimacy of marital relationships is profound and holy from a Christian context. It can be viewed as the bringing together of all the attributes of God once again, into a place of perfect unity and love. No wonder Satan hates this imagery and will do anything he can to destroy the beauty of God’s design. Every marriage, especially those which honor the Lord, as well as every union between a believer and the Savior, are visible reminders God is One.

So what keeps a relationship and, more importantly, a marriage vibrant, healthy, and full of committed love? For many couples, the second half of their married life together is represented by what Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist, described in his seventh stage of psychosocial development: Generativity vs. Stagnation. Erikson stated, “A person does best at this time to put aside thoughts of death and balance its certainty with the only happiness that is lasting: to increase, by whatever is yours to give, the goodwill and higher order in your sector of the world.” Here, adults express the need to fashion or nurture things that will outlast them (e.g., by having children, creating a positive change to benefit other people, sustaining meaningful relationships, impacting the kingdom of God, etc.). Success in these endeavors can then lead to a sense of usefulness and fulfillment, while failure often results in a more superficial, and occasionally more destructive, involvement with the surrounding world.

Some of the primary questions related to this period of generativity are the following: Will we produce anything of real value? What will our legacy be? What can we do to establish and guide the next generation? Stagnation, on the other hand, is characterized by self-absorption and a dissatisfaction with one’s relative lack of accomplishment and productivity. Perhaps nothing relationally (apart from one’s faith walk) embraces more potential when it comes to these two constructs than the formation of an enduring marriage. There is a long history in the research literature base supporting the notion that the relationship between marital quality and global well-being differs between men and women, with men placing greater value on marital status (the content or individual components of the marriage), and women on marital quality (a sense of overall marital satisfaction). In many ways, marital happiness contributes more to global happiness than most other dynamics (e.g., work, friendships, leisure activities, etc.).

Building the right foundation during the first half of a marriage is a key factor when it comes to cultivating an environment for success in the later years. Many researchers and mental health experts assert that both intimacy and the ability to communicate well on an emotional level are critical to overall marital satisfaction. Kindness and generosity also show up as factors again and again. Love, passion, romance, commitment . . . these things are like fire and, if you think about it, the nature of fire is to go out. Fire consumes everything available and, once the source of fuel is exhausted, it will often die down and go out on its own. This is why firefighters go ahead of an advancing wildfire and start a controlled burn in what is referred to as a backfire. The theory suggests if the source of fuel is eliminated by the time the main fire arrives, it will be easier to extinguish, or perhaps even self-extinguish.

Marriages and marital dynamics can function exactly like fire. If a husband and wife—who have primary responsibility before God in this matter—are not separately and jointly putting the necessary “fuel” on the relationship (e.g., time, attention, kindness, a servant’s heart, date nights, patience, humor, friendship, joint decision-making, forgiveness, a sense of ownership, etc.), then there is a greater risk of love, as the primary fuel, running low or even running out. When differentiation (a healthy and balanced sense of self and personal identity), a lack of emotional cutoff (a willingness to engage with one’s partner), and reduced emotional reactivity exist between a husband and wife, marital satisfaction increases over time.

The broader conclusion from the research on marital stability and satisfaction demonstrates that religious practice and integration do play significant, positive roles between husbands and wives. The Psalmist calls people “blessed” if they “delight in the law of the Lord.” How true for any couple. Their marriage “will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in due season and its leaf does not whither” (Psalm 2:1-3).  So too with second half romance. Rejoice in the wife (or husband) of your youth and you will never stop loving, serving, cherishing, laughing, and praying with your best friend (Proverbs 5:18). Christianity, often captured in the symbolism of marital union, is a wonderfully romantic love story about the passion and desire of God for relationship. “And now these three remain, faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Eric Scalise, PhD, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the President of LIV Consulting, LLC, the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 42 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, marriage and family issues, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues.

Ambushed by Anxiety

Ambushed by Anxiety

by Georgia Shaffer, MA on April 4th, 2022

One coaching client emailed me saying, “I’ve lived with stress all my life; however, I’m not handling it as well as I used to. I need tips on how to walk out of my office, even when there are still plenty of items on my ‘To-Do’ list. I need to learn how to shut off my brain at night so I can sleep. I’m not only more anxious and tired, but having more headaches.” 

In highly motivated people like this woman who emailed me, I have found it is often anxiety or feeling chronically overwhelmed that not only zaps their energy, but also interferes with their ability to focus and their overall wellbeing. For many, it is easy to get trapped in a negative cycle that results in a poorer quality of life. Of course, with the pandemic today, people are struggling with fear more than ever.

Obviously not all anxiety is detrimental to our health. These kinds of feelings can also motivate us to take action. Nevertheless, constant anxiety and unresolved stress are what research suggests lead to increased moodiness, insomnia, high blood pressure, headaches or a compromised immune system.

You can help yourself resolve some of the overwhelming anxiety by first asking yourself multiple questions. Could I be trying to do too much? Is this just a difficult, challenging time? Do I need more sleep? Or . . . is the issue deeper?

I knew the particular client I mentioned above had been gradually working later and later into the night. Her most productive hours, however, were in the morning. Working longer at night allowed her little time to relax. Since she went to bed tense, she had problems falling asleep. The next morning, she often felt sluggish and had difficulty concentrating. When she did not meet her deadlines, she anxiously worked later, attempting to catch up, and in doing so, continued her nonproductive cycle.

For her, the solution was to begin by leaving the office earlier, then allow more time to wind down at night before she tried to go to sleep.  She found that she slept better and was more productive at work, even though she spent less time there. Once she broke the habit of working late, she experienced a dramatic improvement in her ability to rest and productivity.

Maybe you struggle with anxiety, but in a different way. Perhaps you know what you need to do, yet are paralyzed and unable to change. For example, my client told me, “I know I’m not eating well or exercising regularly, but I’m stuck. I know what I need to do, but I can’t seem to do it. I’m only becoming more anxious and then I self-medicate with more junk food.”

As a coach, I was able to empower my client by giving her support, encouragement, and accountability. Together, we broke things down into ordered doable steps. She made the first step simple and easy, and focused on that. Then she focused on the next step on the list. Each step of the way she was encouraged to challenge her self-doubts and negative thinking and celebrate her progress while continuing to be held accountable for the goal she had set.

Listed below are a few additional few tips you can use to help a client overcome toxic anxiety or improve your overall health and productivity.

  1. Learn to Unclutter Your Mind
    A cluttered mind is an anxious mind. An uncluttered mind has room to hear God’s voice and experience His presence. Like Martha in Luke’s Gospel, our minds can be filled with all kinds of demands and deadlines. Like Mary, we need to make the choice to clear out the junk and make space for our Lord and His wisdom, peace, and love.
  2. Seek Peace through Prayer
    In Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT), Paul says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Make a list telling God exactly what you need. Then make another list of things God has done for which you are grateful. Give God both lists, resting and trusting in Him to be with you and guide you throughout the day.
  3. Stay Connected
    Being connected to people who will encourage you is critical in managing toxic worry. Whether you talk with a coworker, a loved one, or caring friend, you will feel better if you are able to verbalize your frustrations and concerns to a good listener rather than stewing over them alone. 
  4. Let Go of Your Agenda
    A desire to control your life and make things happen according to your timetable leads to more tension, stress, and exhaustion. Instead of holding tightly to your agenda, choose to surrender it all to God.
  5. Rest, Eat Well, and Exercise
    If every little thing overwhelms you, then it is always time for some rest and good nutrition. It is amazing how much smaller your problems appear after a satisfying meal and a good night’s sleep (See 1 Kings 19:1-9). Any activity requiring physical exertion—lifting weights, jogging, cleaning the house, and digging in the dirt—can release endorphins and reduce anxiety.

Georgia Shaffer, MA, is the Founder and Executive Director of Mourning Glory Ministries, a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, and a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation. She has authored five books, including the best-selling Taking Out Your Emotional Trash. Georgia is a sought-after speaker, has been a media guest on numerous outlets, and developed the ReBUILD after Divorce Program. For more than 25 years, she has encouraged, counseled, and coached those who are confronting troubling times. From being a cancer survivor who was given less than a two percent chance of living, as well as someone who has personally faced the upheaval brought by divorce, single parenthood, and the loss of career and income, Georgia knows the courage, resilience, and perseverance needed to begin anew. When she is not writing, speaking, or coaching, she enjoys working in her backyard garden. It is there she loves to garden for her soul. See more at: www.georgiashaffer.com

Confessions of a “Control Enthusiast”

Confessions of a “Control Enthusiast”

by Rita Murray, PhD on January 24th, 2022

“Hi, I’m Rita and I’m a control enthusiast.”

The concept of psychological “type” proposes that one of the first things we notice about others are certain behaviors in the ways they orient, speak, approach, and/or present themselves (i.e., what they make public). Of the four MBTI® (Myers-Briggs) scales, this blog, this confession, is about the fourth scale.

What about you? Do you prefer a structured, orderly, controlled, and well-planned lifestyle (Judging) . . . OR do you prefer a flexible, spontaneous, freedom-loving, and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)?

These two psychologically opposite approaches are the most “dramatic” and are at the root of more conflict between two people than the other three scales. Compare and contrast these “public” approaches:

  1. Judging (J) – “the control enthusiast” – This person is self-regulated and self-disciplined (i.e., uses checklists, is goal achievement oriented, watches the clock, checks the list, and monitors their calendar as they seek closure through control by the elimination of all surprise). They are also more directive and formal in their approach. Judging types tend to speak in a decided/closed and declarative voice, favoring the use of words ending in “ed” (e.g., decided, planned, finished, concluded, etc.).
  2. Perceiving (P) – “the freedom-lover” – This person is flexible, pressure-prompted, non-directive and adaptive (i.e., seeks to stay open through the freedom of alternatives and options, gets their sense of control by being time-flexible and process oriented, and makes choices only when they are necessary). Strict plans are kept to a minimum, decisions are avoided or put off, and it’s difficult to settle on one direction or plan. They are also more facilitative and informal in their approach. Perceiving types speak in a more questioning/curious tone, filled with “in-process” words ending in “ing” (e.g., planning, deciding, finishing, concluding, etc.).

Is it possible that process-oriented and pressure-prompted Perceiving types may be at higher risk for academic, life and love, and/or business failure? You be the judge. At the core of Judging (J) is the need for “control” – of time, of space, of self, and of others. At the core of Perceiving (P) is the need for “freedom” – in time, in space, for self, and for others.

Personality type differences demonstrate that a Perceiving approach to the outer world is different than the Judging approach, not necessarily better or worse. Your MBTI results indicate your preferred way of doing certain things. It’s not designed to measure emotional maturity, intelligence, psychological or mental health disorders. And while type preferences influence the behavioral habits we develop, type theory suggests that in any situation, we have the following choice: use our innate preferences or decide that it’s more appropriate to use the non-preferred opposite:

Too much Judging and not enough Perceiving, which leads to prejudice OR

Too much Perceiving and not enough Judging, which leads to procrastination

A Confession: I am grateful I gained greater awareness of my natural, innate preferences in my mid-twenties when I completed the MBTI, absorbed the book Gifts Differing, and validated my preferences. For the first time in my life, I had an objective lens to fully realize, embrace, and understand the “pathways and pitfalls of a control enthusiast.” It was the start of this lifelong journey of developing Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and practicing “humble inquiry,” a process gained through knowledge and observation, to study others and treat them with respect regarding their preferences and, most importantly, to help me “flex” and use my non-preferred opposite when it’s more appropriate. And, when I do lose my joy, this understanding of being a control enthusiast helps me relax and often laugh at myself. It also helps that I married my emotionally intelligent Perceiving husband, Ron. We innately and respectfully use type language every day as we navigate our “public approach to life” differences.

Control Enthusiasts unite and support “Perceiving voices” . . . Too many Perceiving voices are silenced by the Judging ideals of control enthusiasts. Join me and champion the message that flexible, less-structured, and more spontaneous strategies are also effective, and, for Perceiving types, they are indispensable. What about you? What is your preference – J or P? . . . Remember, you can and do use both preferences at different times and in different situations, but which one of these, Judging or Perceiving, is your public face to the world?

Note: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and MBTI are registered trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries

Rita Murray, PhD, is the Founder and Principal of Performance Consulting, LLC, an organizational development firm, previous CEO and Chairman of a national energy services company, cognitive psychologist, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), executive coach, and sought-after leadership consultant. She has held leadership roles at General Electric and Lockheed Martin, and is also a private pilot. Dr. Murray frequently speaks at leadership events and conferences and is highly regarded for her ability to connect personal and interpersonal development with the needs of business and with mobile and virtual technology. See more at www.performanceok.com

Hope: The Second Most Powerful Force for Change

Hope: The Second Most Powerful Force for Change

by Dwight Bain on January 17th, 2022

The business community and many organizations have an old saying, “Hope is not a strategy,” in reference to wishing, dreaming, and longing for better results. However, far too frequently, this comes without any tangible indicators for change. People can be like that as well. How many times have you said something like one or more of the following?

  • “I hope he/she will change.”
  • “I hope traffic won’t be bad on my way to the concert.”
  • “I hope my teacher gives me better grades this semester.”
  • “I hope my boss won’t be mad for coming in late . . . again.”
  • “I hope my mom and dad will finally accept my partner as a loving person and stop complaining.”

Anything sound familiar? Statements such as this are often based on the flawed thinking that by merely saying the word, “Hope,”it is akin to uttering the well-known Disney phrase, “When you wish upon a star . . .” In reality, this is more of an unfounded wish based on personal desires with nothing to back it up outside of one’s own opinion. That’s why it fails.

Wrong thinking brings wrong conclusions . . . never results. Is there a better way? Absolutely!

Clinical research into the brain has shown how nerve pathways (white matter) flow out from the brain cells (grey matter) to create profound change. We now know hope actually is a strategy because of the emerging neuroscience on epigenetics and neuroplasticity. The brain follows nerve pathways, which are reinforced with repetitive thoughts for good or for bad. A simple way to remember how these “neural pathways” are formed is this, “Brain cells that ‘fire’ together, ‘wire’ together.”

Consider the horror of the war in Vietnam. Thousands of soldiers were affected; many were captured and tortured like former Sen. John McCain. However, instead of being defeated by his prisoner-of-war status, McCain came back driven to do more for his country and became a respected United States Senator who also ran for President of the United States. How did he acquire that strength? Hope. Read about his life story and you will come away with the profound sense that he never gave up on freedom. He kept the hope of a better day alive in his thinking, even from within the confines of a terrible concentration camp and prison cell. McCain may not have known the future, but he did know what he believed. Despite the worst of circumstances, he had hope and that hope supercharged his thinking with new power to press on.

Life stories such as this are why I read the biographies of others who have overcome their own challenges with deep hope. They fuel me with deeper hope. When I read the words, “Hope in the Lord,” I am reflecting my confidence in God’s strength and power instead of my own.

When I read Scriptures about hope, it is a reflection of the power source that kept people like King David, Moses, the Apostle Paul, Jeremiah, Joshua, and every other character outlined in the Bible, moving forward. They put their hope into God’s hands. They prayed for His will to be done and then kept going. They did not view hope as a selfish outcome; rather, they hoped for God’s outcome. They did not “wish” for others to change, but allowed God to change them first. They did not pray for comfort, but prayed for the courage to press on in hope. And that blessed hope changed the world, and still has the same power to change your world and your outlook on life as well.

Hope is about you and what God can do inside you. When you read these verses, what do you hear? “‘I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11). “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

You see, hope isn’t a new force. Hope has always been there, just waiting to be awakened inside you. Hope isn’t about wishing for the other person to change. Hope is allowing God to stir up your gifts, your potential, and purpose in your corner of the world. God does want to change others . . . He may want to start with you first. When Paul maps out the sources of power in 1 Corinthians 13, he talks about three emotions – Faith, Hope, and Love. All three are better strategies than simply wishing for someone else to make your life better because all three start inside you. 

You can think better thoughts and you can pray for God to change your situation. Just remember . . . prayer is answered first inside of you. When you pray for God to change you, your situation, or at least your outlook, will change and your deepest hopes will be realized. Why? Simple. Hope really is a strategy.

How Is Coaching Different Than Mentoring, Consulting and Counseling?

How Is Coaching Different Than Mentoring, Consulting and Counseling?

by Jill Monaco on January 3rd, 2022

I’m often asked how life coaching is different than mentoring, consulting, and counseling, so I wanted to answer that question and shed light on how to make sure you are choosing the right person for your needs and goals. Since the life coaching profession is an unregulated field, many people may refer to themselves as coaches when in fact they are mentors, counselors, consultants or even teachers. Those are admirable roles and they serve a distinct purpose; however, I have seen way too many untrained people call themselves a “coach” and then end up with frustrated and underserved clients. Moving forward, people who have had bad experiences often struggle to then trust a trained coach.

Full disclosure: Because of the “horror” stories I’ve heard, I have become a bit of a coach “snob” . . . and I have to use a measure of self-control to keep quiet when someone says they are going to start charging people for life coaching because they think they can help them, but don’t have any training in the field and very little experience. It would be like saying you are a mental health counselor because you like to help people solve their problems. We would likely raise an eyebrow at that, right? My goal is to help you know the difference between these roles and define what a life coach does in comparison to other professional roles. Before someone chooses who they work with, they should first consider what is really wanted or needed. For example:

  • Do they need help processing something difficult from their past?
  • Do they need someone to show them how to build their business?
  • Do they need someone to teach them how to master a new skill?
  • Do they need someone to help them prepare for marriage?

If the answer to any of these questions was, “Yes,” then a coach is not the best fit, but rather a counselor, consultant, mentor or teacher.

What is a Life Coach?

Coaching is set apart by the way a life coach approaches a conversation with a client. Coaches do not necessarily teach, but help others through a process of discovery by using active listening skills, asking powerful questions, expanding thought processes, identifying limited beliefs, designing action steps, and following up. Keith Webb, a leading expert in the field of coaching puts it this way:

To most leaders, professional coaching practices are counter-intuitive. Take a look at these characteristics:

  • Coaches don’t talk, they listen.
  • Coaches don’t give information, they ask questions.
  • Coaches don’t offer ideas, they generate ideas from clients.
  • Coaches don’t share their story, they tap into the client’s experience.
  • Coaches don’t present solutions, they expand the client’s thinking.
  • Coaches don’t give recommendations, they empower clients to choose.

Why it Matters to Find a Certified or Credentialed Life Coach

The leading secular credentialing authority in the coaching profession is the International Coach Federation (ICF). They have set standards for training in what is referred to as core competencies and ethics. I went through a training program that required many hours of training, practice, and mentoring. My coaching calls were reviewed and I was mentored on how to improve. Once I completed that process and received my certification, I had to take a three-hour test and have over 100 hours of coaching clients before I could be credentialed as an ICF coach. This is a major time and financial investment as well.

Sadly, there are programs out there that promise to certify people as a “coach,” but don’t actually follow the ICF standards. I have had friends pay a lot of money to become a coach, only to find out they took classes from an organization that didn’t have good standards. Be careful of the folks who say they are credentialed from an organization that does not have any coaching affiliation at all. These organizations just decided to join the trend, without putting in the work, and then train others to do the same. Do your research.

The International Christian Coaching Institute (ICCI), of which I serve as a Board of Reference Member, is a credible faith-based organization that offers high quality training from nationally known Christian coaches, mentoring and credentialing opportunities, and mirrors the same core competencies as ICF. The most significant difference is that they celebrate and integrate biblical truth in all that they do.

Other Professional Roles Compared to Life Coaches

These definitions are quoted or adapted from my training through Creative Results Management.

  • Counselors – seeks to discover issues in the client’s past that are blocking them from success and/or the ability to function well in daily living activities. Special techniques and tools are used to understand these issues and bring healing and closure to them so the client may move forward. While coaches and counselors may use many of the same dialogue techniques, coaching begins in the present and is future oriented.
  • Mentors – have expertise in a particular area and share that learning with mentees. Mentors provide knowledge, they advise, guide, correct, and encourage in their field of expertise. A mentor works within their profession, whereas a life coach with good discovery, as well as change and communication skills, can coach anyone.
  • Consultants – are specialists who are paid for solutions. They assess and diagnose problems and propose solutions. Many times they implement the solutions as well. Coaches also focus on solutions, but draw them out of the client. Coaches help clients set goals and then support them in creating a plan of action and implementing it. Ultimately, clients gain long-term problem solving capacity.

I have heard some consultants, counselors or mentors also mix in coaching tools. Why? Because asking questions is one of the most powerful ways someone discovers what is inside of them, and studies show when you make a decision for yourself, you will be more likely to stick to it better than if someone told you what to do.

Freedom Coaching®

I coach people with traditional coaching in business, relational, and personal development goals. I love seeing people find the greatness that is already inside of them and to reach their goals! I have also created a coaching program that blends coaching and ministry tools called the Freedom Coach Model®. It’s similar to many of the bonus tools life coaches use like Strength Finders, the DISC or other self-discovery and goal setting modalities. I have certain questions I ask and I lead people through specific prayers. In this model, I lead the session, not the client. I created the Freedom Coach Model because some clients were stuck and they didn’t know why. As they shared their experiences of meeting with counselors, they said it was helpful to have someone listen, but they wanted more practical tools to move forward. They didn’t want to look back anymore, but they knew the past was contributing to their untapped potential. I join them in asking God what questions He wants to answer for them. Based on biblical truth, we search the heart of God together. Sometimes, it means walking through forgiveness, hearing what He has to say about certain lies they have believed or just sitting in His presence and receiving His love. Then we come up with goals to maintain their freedom. I have seen clients thrive as they meet their goals, enter into healthy relationships, move into promotion, and become all God created them to be.

Many of my clients wanted to go through the process again on their own, so I had the blessing of writing an Amazon #1 best-selling book, Freedom Coach Model. It has 20 different topics for you to talk to God about. I suggest questions to ask in prayer and offer a place to journal as you discover God’s heart. It can’t replace one-on-one coaching, but it has helped people worldwide encounter the love of God. I know I am biased, but I believe everyone needs a coach. I know how it has changed my life and my clients’ lives.

Jill Monaco is the founder and CEO of Jill Monaco Ministries, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has a passion to encourage people to pursue the presence of God and find freedom in Christ. She is a speaker, best-selling author, and CC credentialed coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF). She is also certified as a Strengths Champion Coach and SYMBIS Relationship Coach. As a Bible teacher and speaker, Jill is known for captivating audiences with her high-energy, humorous approach to life’s serious issues. Her faith-filled and transparent stories encourage listeners to become all that God has created them to be. Jill has developed Freedom Coaching®, a model that blends hearing God, prayer, and coaching tools. Her first book, The Freedom Coach Model® went to #1 on the Amazon bestseller list. Jill Monaco Ministries also serves singles by publishing the online magazine, SingleMatters.com and the program, From Looking To Loving: Find the Breakthrough You Need So You Can Have The Relationship You Want.  She hosts the podcast, The Jill Monaco Show: Conversations that Inspire You to Love Well. Jill has been featured on LIFE Today with James and Betty Robison, the Boundless Podcast (Focus on the Family), and has taught webinars for singles with Christian Mingle. She has spoken on stages at Disney Night of Joy, Creation Fest, and the Experience Conference about the need for Bible translation. Her eclectic career includes 20 years as a professional stage and commercial actress, industrial film narrator, and voiceover talent. She sang backups for Perry Como’s Holiday Tour, performed in tours and theatres across the country, and is the voice on several Disney Kids audiobooks. Currently living in Chicago, IL, Jill looks forward to having her own family someday. Until then, she works very hard at earning the title of favorite aunt to her five nieces and nephews. See more at https://www.jillmonaco.com/

Want to Grow Your Practice? First Build a Relationship

Want to Grow Your Practice? First Build a Relationship

by Georgia Shaffer, MA on December 27th, 2021

In a world where people problems are prevalent, the need for relational coaching continues to grow. So how do you connect with potential clients who want to improve their relationships? And how do you reach those seeking guidance to better navigate the relational fallout that comes with daily living?

I discovered early in my career that to gain coaching clients, I first had to cultivate relationships. Whether people became acquainted with me through my writing, speaking, networking or video teaching, I realized that what I knew wasn’t as important to them as whether or not they felt we had a connection. Comments from new clients, such as, “I feel like I already know you,” helped me realize that before someone chooses to work with me, they want to know they can relate to me.

You can move from having no relationship, to being an acquaintance, to becoming their paid coach in many ways. For instance, I gained a number of clients through my teaching and on the YouTube channel. You might connect with potential clients through a blog, Facebook Live or Twitter. Pick a venue that fits your personality and skill set. Seeing you, hearing you, and reading what you write, all provide glimpses into who you are as a person and a life coach.

One action step you can take to grow your business is to create or fine tune a biweekly or monthly newsletter. Recently, I attended two conferences on opposite sides of the country. In this age of social media, the presenters at both events touted email newsletters as still being an important tool. I found that information especially interesting because I had been wondering if my email newsletter was as outdated as a cassette tape.

A newsletter is one of the top ways to engage with others because it can provide the following:

  • a structure to invite people into your life and business by subscribing to your newsletter
  • a way to consistently engage with potential clients
  • an opportunity to repeatedly affirm the value you have to offer as a life coach
  • a tool to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t

What do you put in your newsletter if you want to move people from being an acquaintance to a client? Darren Rowse, a professional blogger, speaker, and consultant, finds that he best connects when he inspires, informs, and interacts with others. Let’s take a closer look at these three factors.

Inspire

Because we first process sensory stimulation through the emotional part of our brain, people are drawn to you when they emotionally connect to you. Reading or hearing your stories, especially when you are vulnerable and honest, can motivate potential clients to want to make real changes in their relationships. People also become emotionally engaged through graphic images and photographs. Include poignant, descriptive, beautiful or inspirational photos that will inspire your readers.

Inform

What do you know that will help others? Communicating to people and providing information that will help them reach their potential is a lot different than saying you want their money. People are intuitive. Don’t underestimate their ability to determine your real motive. Seek to be identified as a competent life coach who wants to use your expertise to help others grow. That is the type of coach someone will say, “I’m willing to pay for their services.” 

What practical articles can you write? Think about relational topics that would not only help readers, but would be something they would want to share with their friends, coworkers or family. For example, as a relationship coach, you can share three techniques for helping people handle the resistance that comes with change. Whether it is their spouse, a co-worker or a close friend going through a difficult transition, they can connect with someone in a meaningful way by:

  • addressing it, rather ignoring, the issue
  • normalizing it and letting people know they are not alone
  • expressing it and allowing others to give a voice to their worries and fears

Interact

With a newsletter, for example, you could send a welcome message when someone signs up. In the following week or so, you could email them one of your frequently requested articles. In two weeks, you could send them a link to a thought-provoking blog or article someone else has written. By consistently engaging with your readers they get to know you. Share your struggles and your relational frustrations and invite others to do the same. Pick a topic, pose a question, and encourage a discussion on Facebook. Ask your readers to share what relational topics they would like to read about and then respond to suggestions.

If you want to increase the number of clients you work with, realize that developing authentic and meaningful relationships can take more than a few months. Just this week, I received an email from a man who attended one of my conferences four years ago. He had been using the coaching tools I shared, regularly visited my website, and read my newsletters and articles. He wanted me to know how much he appreciated what I had shared over the years. Then he said, “I’d love to work with you as my coach.” In four years, we had moved from having no relationship to being client and coach by consistently providing value and helping him grow.

Cultivate relationships. Don’t sell your coaching. Connect with people. Focus on delivering results. When you care and put people first, your practice will grow.

Georgia Shaffer, MA, is the Founder and Executive Director of Mourning Glory Ministries, a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, and a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation. She has authored five books, including the best-selling Taking Out Your Emotional Trash. Georgia is a sought-after speaker, has been a media guest on numerous outlets, and developed the ReBUILD After Divorce Program. For more than 25 years, she has encouraged, counseled, and coached those who are confronting troubling times. From  being a cancer survivor who was given less than a two percent chance of living, as well as someone who has personally faced the upheaval brought by divorce, single parenthood, and the loss of career and income, Georgia knows the courage, resilience, and perseverance needed to begin anew. When she is not writing, speaking, or coaching, she enjoys working in her backyard garden. It is there she loves to garden for her soul. See more at: www.georgiashaffer.com

Pursuing Excellence in Obscurity

Pursuing Excellence in Obscurity

by Dan Chrystal, MBA on December 20th, 2021

There is an inner struggle leaders may face with attaining success in the ministry. There are conflicting ideas about what a successful ministry or church may look like. Some pastors and ministry leaders have been pushed into the limelight because of the positive affect they are having. Others who have not attained that level of defined success may even get discouraged, especially when they incorporate tactics and methodology employed by these limelight ministries with little to no impact. Success is a trap. How many young actors and actresses will never make it to the $20 million movie status? How many artists will never have their works of art displayed in a museum? How many ministry leaders will never have their sermons and presentations downloaded over a million times?

Art historian and critic, Sarah Lewis, gave a TED Talk in 2014 called “Embrace the Near Win.” An author and curator based out of New York, she has written a book entitled The Rise, which “analyzes the idea of failure, focusing on case studies that reveal how setbacks can become a tool enabling us to master our destinies” (http://www.ted.com/speakers/sarah_lewis). In her presentation, she gives the illustration of an archer on a varsity archery team. She stood behind one archer as she lined her sights aiming at the 10-ring 75 yards away. The 10-ring on a target at 75 yards looks like a matchstick tip held out at arms length. She witnessed the archer hit the 7, the 9, and then the 10-ring twice. The next arrow missed the target completely. This miss did not deter the archer from placing another arrow’s nock into the string of the bow, pulling, and releasing. The archer seemed to take the miss as a challenge and practiced for three straight hours until she was completely exhausted. Even though she hit the bulls-eye twice, she did not celebrate hitting the target and stop firing arrows; nor did she crumble under the failure to hit the target after hitting the 10-ring.

This example by Sarah Lewis is a snapshot of the difference between success and mastery. Success, as Sarah explains, is hitting the 10-ring, but mastery says success is nothing if you cannot hit it again and again and again. She goes on to say success is an event, a moment in time, reaching a goal. Mastery is not a commitment to a goal, but to a constant pursuit. To achieve mastery is to understand the value of the near win. Mastery is in the reaching, not in the arriving. Mastery is sacrificing for the craft not in crafting one’s career. Lewis continues to press that success motivates, but a near win propels us into an ongoing quest. When we become more proficient at something, the more we see the imperfections, flaws, and what we have yet to accomplish and know.

Compare this example and these words to typical ministries. The ministry of the Church is NEVER done. It is not something to be considered a success – an event or a moment in time. For example, local church ministry is a commitment to a constant pursuit. We will always be achieving a “near win” no matter how many people accept Christ and are baptized. What a pastor does every week can be seen as monotonous. They can experience years of striving and after those years ask, “What difference have I really made?” There are likely near wins of the people who have been touched with the hope of the gospel, individuals who have come for counsel, and yet, did not commit their lives to Christ to be discipled. It could include teenagers or children who have come through various ministries, but never engaged in a faith community as adults.

These situations can drive a ministry leader to the point where they wonder if their life has been any value to the kingdom – whether they have ever been successful in the ministry. The local church pastor writes sermons on a weekly basis. Not every sermon will hit the mark, but when it does, it doesn’t mean you stop preaching because you had one “successful” sermon. Not every service will be life-changing for those who attend, but when you do have a transformational service, you don’t close the doors because you have attained success just that one day. When you have been successful in encouraging someone because they were in need of a loving word or expression, you don’t stop encouraging people because you have been successful with one individual.

Success is finite. Mastery is infinite. Mastery within a ministry context means we never give up on the daily dedication and commitment that is required because that seemingly never-ending tediousness may one day produce a harvest. The more you learn in ministry, the more you can lean into the Lord, see your own imperfections in the outcome of what you do, driving you to improve, tweak, and change it in order to master the process.

Progress can be stalled in ministry when we find a program or attain a level of participation that feels like a sweet spot. When we see how a particular program or style of service begins to have a “successful” feel to it, we have a tendency to continue to do things the same way over and over. Logic would encourage you to keep on using the same program or methodology expecting the same results. This would make sense if it were not for the “archer’s paradox.”

If you take a look at a high speed video of an arrow as it is being released from a bow, you may be shocked to see that the arrow bends and vacillates due to the force of the string weight pushing it, the way the arrow was seated, and the angle the string was pulled back relative to the bow. There are so many other factors involved when an arrow is released from a bow. If you had the same stance, pull, and release, there is no guarantee the arrow will hit the bullseye at the same spot over and over. This is an elementary review of the archer’s paradox.

The same applies to ministry endeavors. You can try to repeat the same style, methodology, and program, but over time, may see that the results will change depending on the many other factors involved. Those other factors are external forces often beyond our control. A significant world event, the death of a loved one, the economy, sickness, immoral conduct from a leader, or circumstances in his/her family – all of these can play a role in missing the target. It is important to recognize we need to adapt as time and context change. We need to adjust as issues arise. We need to tweak part of the ministry when we see it losing effectiveness. We need to change it when it ceases to be effective at all.

This is the definition of mastering the craft of the ministry. We are not crafting a career in ministry. We are sacrificing for the craft of the ministry. Success for churches is often categorized as the larger church in town. It can be seen as how many people heard the gospel and raised their hand in response to receive Christ. Success can be defined as how many people were fed and cared for at a community event sponsored by the church. Mastery ministry is walking with someone or a group of people as they learn how to grow closer to Christ in relationship. Mastery is continually working on building healthy relationships with those in your church and community, even through the messiness of life. Mastery is going after those people who have accepted Christ and teaching them how to grow in their faith to one day come to a point where they do the same for others.

Mastery is understanding, and regardless of how many we influence for Christ, there are always more who need to hear and receive. This is why we should never give up. This is why we should continue to sharpen our knowledge, expand our faith, hone our leadership skills, spend time in prayer, exercise the spiritual disciplines, and deepen our understanding of Scripture. We do all of this to work toward mastery, NOT success.

Leadership summits are wonderful. No matter how many you attend, you can usually go away encouraged in your faith to dream bigger, to expand your horizons, and desire to see God do amazing things. The downside of these summits is that we usually hear from the leaders who have obtained a certain status in ministry. This is not a judgment on these individuals. They have more responsibility to work toward mastery and will be held accountable for so much more. We should continue to lift them up in prayer as God uses them. What we may not be hearing or learning during these summits is the cry of the ministry leader who works tirelessly day in and day out – some working another full-time job in order to fulfill their calling. The cry that often silently arises is, “I feel like I am on an endless pursuit of obscurity?”

What do we say to the one who has been faithful to God for years in their gifts and has done everything in their ability to share the love of Christ? It’s often the ministry leader who may never see the big numbers in his or her organization or church, but continues every day and week to be an example of Christ, urging those he or she leads toward a deeper relationship with God and more meaningful relationships with each other. It’s often the ministry leader who wakes in the morning and prays for each person they influence. It’s often the ministry leader who holds morning Bible studies, encourages learning in small groups, visits those in the hospital or nursing homes, and who shares the message of the gospel with the mailman, a grocery store cashier or a neighbor in the community.

As Sarah Lewis teaches us through her talk and book, it is rare to see a “profession any longer where someone needs to continually focus with doggedness on hitting the target over and over. What it means to align your body posture for three hours in order to hit a target, pursuing a kind of excellence in obscurity.” When the archer competes, those in the crowd do not see all the arrows the archer drew back in practice and fired at the target. They do not see the frustration and fierce resolve to master their craft. They only see the competition target and the result of their efforts under the pressure of lights, an audience, and judges.

In ministry settings, we need to pursue excellence in obscurity. We are not working for a reward, notoriety, money or status. We are working for a greater purpose. Ephesians 5:1 (NLT) says, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Let us also be reminded of Philippians 2:1-8:

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

Lewis explains, “Masters are not experts because they take a subject to its conceptual end. They are masters because they realize there isn’t one. Mastery understands there is no end to what you do.” There will always be people who have not accepted Christ and need to hear of His love, mercy, and forgiveness. There will always be those who need to experience His amazing grace. Pursuing excellence in obscurity does not mean accepting a state of being where decline is acceptable. This pursuit is not about accepting that we may never hit the mark. It is about continually pursuing the mark over and over again whether we hit it or not.

Pursuing excellence in obscurity is taking on the very nature of a servant, and being obedient to God, even to the very last breath. We are, as Lewis puts it, “on a voracious unfinished path that always requires more.” We understand in the ministry that our work will never be fully completed. There is only ONE who can complete the work, and the work is not over until He says it is. We began by stating the inner struggle ministry leaders may face with attaining success. We end with the encouragement to pursue excellence in obscurity. In pursuing excellence in obscurity we place the credit and results in the hands of the One who has earned the right to receive it, Jesus. I leave you with the words of Paul from Colossians 3:16-17 (NLT), “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

Dan Chrystal, MBA, is a husband, father, author, speaker, and life coach. He has over 28 years in executive leadership and relational coaching, including six years as an administrative officer of a large faith-based nonprofit organization and also served as the Director of Sponsorship and National Church Relations for Bayside Church in Roseville, CA. Dan is passionate about helping others love their neighbors as themselves, and is a dedicated life, career, and couples coach. He holds an MBA in Executive Leadership from Purdue Global University and is currently studying Law at Purdue Global University Law School. Dan’s ministry experience spans almost all pastoral positions. He is a committed student of “Relationship” and believes deep, meaningful relationships are God’s design for us. He is the author of Lost Art of Relationship and Discussions for Better Relationships. For more, see Dan Chrystal – Book Author – Discussions for Better Relationships | LinkedIn

Holiday Stress: Managing the Chaos

Holiday Stress: Managing the Chaos

by Dr. Eric Scalise on December 13th, 2021

The holiday season is supposed to be a time for relaxing and celebrating with friends and family. However, that’s not always the case . . . rates of depression, drinking and drugging episodes, family and relational conflicts, disappointment, loneliness, and isolation, all increase during the last few months of the year. Holiday stress is real, but the good news is that it can be managed effectively if we know what to anticipate.

Noise . . . crowds . . . the feeding frenzy over the latest toy or gadget. For many, there may be a host of unrealistic expectations that seem to torment our souls. Some of us become hopeful that the “magic” of the season will solve a myriad of problems, reconnect us to family members or heal broken hearts. Others face financial pressures, the need to find the perfect gift, or simply the craziness of trying to fit everything into a jam-packed 5-6 week schedule. In fact, nearly 45% of Americans admit they would skip Christmas altogether if they could.

Now, with the Covid pandemic still wreaking havoc upon significant segments of society, whether it be on gathering with others, making travel arrangements, wrestling with ongoing anxieties and fears, facing job loss and certain economic realities, etc., every factor feels sharper, heightened, and ever present. We were created through relationship and for relationship, and the pervasive sense of isolation thousands experience on a daily basis is proving to be overwhelming for many. If Covid was the “earthquake” that hit the world, then the coming tsunami of mental health issues must be accounted for and addressed.

What is the Impact?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Center, some of the stats are sobering:

  • 75% of people experience “extreme stress” during the holiday season
  • 69% are stressed by feeling or having a “a lack of time”
  • 69% are stressed by perceiving a “lack of money”
  • 68% feel greater fatigue
  • 53% feel stressed about too much commercialism and advertising hype
  • 52% are more irritable
  • 51% are stressed over the “pressure to give or receive gifts”
  • 44% are stressed about family gatherings
  • 37% are stressed about staying on a diet – there is an average 18% increase in eating over the holiday period
  • 36% feel greater sadness
  • 35% feel greater anger
  • 34% are stressed about making/facing travel plans
  • 26% feel more lonely

The APA also reported that holiday stress can have a bigger impact on women (44% vs. 31% for men) because they often take on multiple roles (holiday celebrations, meals, gifts, children’s activities, their own workplace responsibilities, decorating, entertaining, coordinating family time, Christmas cards, etc.). Women are also more likely to use food (41%) and/or excessive drinking (28%) in order to cope.

The overconsumption of alcohol is another major consequence of holiday related stress. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Addiction (NIAAA), alcohol is a primary factor in a significant number of highway deaths between November and January (Thanksgiving – 40% of all highway deaths; Christmas – 37% of all highway deaths; New Year’s – 58% of all highway deaths). The NIAAA also indicates that 57% of people in this country say they have seen someone drive under the influence during the holidays. An increase in DUI violations tells the story: Thanksgiving – a 30% increase; Christmas – a 33% increase; and New Year’s – a 155% increase.

On an interesting note, higher rates of suicide during the holidays are a bit of a myth. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide attempts and completions peak between April and August and actually decrease in December. However, bouts of depression are still common. The American Psychiatric Association reports an estimated 10 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to shorter days and less sunshine during daylight hours. Symptoms can include depression, anxiety, mood changes, sleep/appetite disturbances, and lethargy. Seventy-five percent of all cases are women.

Stress can manifest itself in many ways, such as headaches, sleep disturbances, fatigue, exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, a short temper, upset stomach, aching muscles (including lower back pain), loss of appetite, and a decline in productivity and work performance. Emotional stress also elevates blood pressure and heart rates, resulting in a surge of chemical reactions within the body that can create abnormal inflammatory responses. This often affects the immune system, as well as insulin levels, which disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar.

If the emotional stress becomes too intense or overwhelming, underlying cardiovascular problems may surface, as well as an increased risk for acute cardiac events (primarily heart attacks). Certain stress related hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released and can impact pre-existing atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries of the heart. Blood clots are formed when plaque breaks off, damaging the vessel and leading to heart attacks and strokes. According to the American Heart Association, more than 50 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure and nearly 60 million suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, resulting in over one million deaths every year (two out of every five people who die or one every 32 seconds). Heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States every year since 1900 (except 1918 during the flu pandemic) and crosses all racial, gender, socioeconomic, and age barriers.

The rise in cardiac “mortality” during the holidays is not epidemic (about 5%), but it is still considered to be statistically significant. Nevertheless, there is a 50% increase in non-fatal hearts attacks during the winter months, more than at any other 2-3 month period. Several years ago, sociology professor, David Phillips, examined over 57 million death certificates issued between 1979 and 2004 and discovered that not only do more people die during the winter months, but New Year’s Day is actually one of the deadliest days of all, with Christmas close behind.

What Are Some Good Stress Prevention Tips?

Here are a few suggestions to help maintain a healthy sense of balance during the holiday season:

  • Accept the fact right now that you simply cannot do everything and you cannot do it for everyone. Determine what are desires and preferences vs. what are true priorities.
  • Plan ahead as much as possible. Managing and scheduling your time is much better than your time controlling you.
  • Create a budget and stick to it. Don’t try to buy happiness – celebrate and enjoy it.
  • Give up the goal (or obsession) of having to be perfect and/or do everything perfectly. Life rarely works out that way.
  • Give yourself permission to set appropriate boundaries with people. Be willing to say, “No” and don’t feel guilty about it. Every time you say, “Yes,” you are saying, “No” to something else. Say, “No” to the right things.
  • Build in downtime for yourself. Read a book. Play. Relax. Go to a movie. Engage in a favorite hobby. Sit and just be still for a few minutes.
  • Share the tasks; do less, not more. Doing things together, especially when it flows out of genuine relationship, often renews the soul.
  • Don’t give up all of your normal and daily routines. Repetition and rhythm are good ways to minimize anxiety, worry, and depression.
  • Unplug from time-to-time. Be intentional about reducing the amount and use of technology, especially social media. Quiet your soul.
  • Have reasonable expectations for yourself and others. Understand that there may be some distance between the ideal and the real when it comes to family, friends, and schedules. Don’t make it your mission to “fix” people or the past. Instead, give the gift of your time and the ministry of presence.
  • If being lonely or depressed is a concern, get involved. Avoid isolation. Reach out and seek community. Spend some meaningful time offering service to others who also need a word or gesture of love and encouragement.
  • Eat and drink in moderation. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and can compound other symptoms of depression.
  • Be sure to get enough sleep. This is the body and mind’s way of restoring and revitalizing itself. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average person loses almost a day of sleep every week.
  • Listen to your favorite music. One study out of the University of Maryland showed that music can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow, especially in and around the heart.
  • Spend more time in direct sunlight during the winter months. Sunlight increases the production of serotonin, an important mood stabilizing neurotransmitter.
  • Smell the citrus. Research on depression has revealed that citrus fragrances can increase a person’s sense of well-being and alleviate the symptoms of stress because of increased norepinephrine production. Norepinephrine is another important mood-related neurotransmitter.
  • Take a brisk walk or work out on a regular basis. Moderate exercise is an effective stress reliever and has a positive effect on the brain by decreasing anxiety and improving sleep patterns.
  • Watch the caffeine intake (e.g., coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda). This is especially important after 3:00-4:00 pm because caffeine has an almost eight-hour half-life (meaning 50% of its effect is still impacting your body up to eight hours after consumption). Too much caffeine (a stimulant), when combined with increased levels of stress-related adrenaline (also a stimulant), over-amps every system in the body.
  • Meditate on your favorite Scriptures. Have some honey while you do it – food for the soul and for the body. Honey is a proven antioxidant (the darker the better), and has antibacterial properties that help the immune system while also providing a good source of energy.
  • If necessary or appropriate, seek out professional help. Untreated anxiety, depression, addiction, and other stress-related disorders can be potentially dangerous.

Finally, take a few minutes throughout the holidays to reflect on the things you are truly thankful for. Having a thankful heart can be transformative in so many ways. Create some of your own memories and traditions. Invite Christ, the true Prince of Peace, to have first place in your life and affirm once again the joy of His gift to you. Perspective is a great companion in the midst of all that seems crazy and disruptive. The holidays can become an endless pursuit of peace, joy, meaning, relationship, and so much more; yet too many of us look in all the wrong places. Jesus is the source. He told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (Jn. 14:27). He is, as the angels proclaimed two thousand years ago, the, “good news of great joy, which will be for all people” (Lk. 2:10).

Eric Scalise, PhD, is the President of LIV Consulting, LLC. He currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with 40 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include marriage and family issues, professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. As the son of a diplomat, Dr. Scalise was born in Nicosia, Cyprus, and has also lived and traveled extensively around the world. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues. Dr. Scalise and his wife Donna have been married for 40 years, have twin sons (who are combat veterans serving in the U.S. Marine Corps) and four grandchildren.

Shame Off You: Say “No” to Dysfunctional Family Rules

Shame Off You: Say “No” to Dysfunctional Family Rules

by Dr. Eric Scalise on December 6th, 2021

Every marriage and every home offers the opportunity to create meaningful relationships, to lay the groundwork for a secure and healthy self-identity and to incorporate scriptural principles that lead to a vibrant and active celebration of one’s relationship with God. In 1 Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul tells us that “love edifies” or builds up. Love helps build a marriage, a family, and almost any relationship. Love helps build well-balanced children and a legacy that moves from one generation to the next. Yet, what about the things that tear down? In my professional and ministry experience, almost nothing is potentially more destructive within our primary relationships then when a pervading sense of shame is present. In fact, research in this area indicates that for every critical, hurtful or abusive thing someone hears about him/herself or experiences on a personal level, the average individual needs 17 “positives” before they perceive balance again. If this is the case, imagine how consumed by negativity some people are before they ever leave the home environment.

Shame communicates to others they are somehow unworthy . . . that they are unlovable, unwanted and in one or more ways, flawed or defective. The result is often a debilitating fear of rejection. When compounded by the fear of failure, this two-edged sword can be a damaging force in any relationship. To effectively integrate biblical truth that can counter these beliefs, it is important to have a good frame of reference in how the dynamic evolves in the first place.

Murray Bowen was a major theorist who helped develop a family systems model of behavior. He and others advocate the notion that individual patterns of behavior, as well as one’s interpersonal relationships, need to be understood contextually by looking across generations. Both functional and dysfunctional relationship principles are imparted within the home environment and Bowen’s work particularly emphasizes the transfer of the “emotional” elements that impact behavior. This includes the ability to set appropriate boundaries or the lack thereof. The same could be said regarding the development of intimacy, positive attachments and feeling connected to others in a meaningful way. 

One of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken to help evaluate the consistency of this intergenerational transmission of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, was the Dunedin study. Over one thousand children were identified at birth during a one-year period (1972-1973) in Dunedin, New Zealand, and then reevaluated at ages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, and 21. This research is a unique resource for the investigation of behavioral and emotional development. Researchers used the Dunedin data to find support for the concept of generational legacy. Follow up reports showed as the children in the study aged, there was consistent evidence that parental role model behaviors were being emulated and the behaviors were becoming more established and entrenched with each successive period of evaluation from birth through early adulthood. The Dunedin project further supports the notion that family of origin dynamics, how spouses interact and parenting styles have a longitudinal effect on an individual and that this effect overlaps multiple adult environments.

The following are five dysfunctional family rules that many of us probably grew up with. This does not necessarily imply they were posted on the refrigerator with a magnet, but they may resonate with you on a deeper level. Perhaps the first word of each rule offers a clue as to why they can be problematic.

Rule #1 – Don’t Talk – Those who grew up with this rule were not allowed to talk about anything significant or personal, especially in a transparent way. Conflicts, differences of opinion, problem behaviors, etc., are all either completely ignored or quickly silenced. There are no “family” conferences or pow-wows whenever a crisis occurs and avoidance is the name of the game. Let’s take, for example, an alcoholic father. Everyone knows dad is drinking. Everyone knows that dad comes home drunk and sometimes gets physical with mom or the kids, but no one talks about the drinking. It’s like having the proverbial elephant in the living room. We all see it. We all smell it and we see what it’s doing to the carpet, but we are all supposed to tip-toe around as if it was not there. And a big “no-no” is . . . we never tell anyone outside of the family. That would be considered treasonous. What often develops is an unhealthy fear of transparency and the keeping of secrets, which can create enormous conflicts within a marriage.

Rule #2 – Don’t Feel – Those who grew up with this rule were not allowed to express their feelings in an authentic way. Whenever they tried, their efforts are usually met with resistance and disdain and the process would be shut down. Feelings were ignored, minimized, criticized or disallowed. Sooner or later, we come to believe that no one really cares how we are really doing, so we hide behind the hurt or the perceived threat of rejection and indifference. Their feelings don’t count in the long run and the thought of transparency becomes too large of a risk, especially when combined with Rule #1. This dynamic results in people who grow up more defensive, suspicious, and guarded in their relationships. When asked how they are doing in life, the answer is almost always, “Fine . . . everything is fine,” even when the world is falling apart all around them. Suffering in silence feels less disappointing or traumatic than rejection by someone who once again may be saying all the right words and using socially acceptable protocols, but isn’t truly interested in having an authentic relationship. Again, this is an extremely destructive pattern that negatively impacts the development of intimacy in marital or family relationships.

Rule #3 – Don’t Touch – I have spoken with some adults who will tell me that as children, they have no memory of being hugged or told they were loved by the significant role models in their lives. They may have assumed it at some level, but the questions still persisted. Another possibility is that the touch was unhealthy or abusive. National statistics indicate that as many as one out of every three girls and one out of every five boys will experience some form of abuse before they graduate from high school. When I grew up, there was a saying that went like this, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I disagree. Long after the words are spoken or the rejection has been experienced, the emotional bruises will linger, possibly creating an unhealthy perception of intimacy. Numerous clients have told me things like, “I can’t ever remember my Dad or my Mom hugging me or saying they loved me. We just didn’t do that in our home.” During Jesus’ ministry, whenever He dealt with the demonic, more often than not, He spoke a word. However, when He healed people, He usually touched them. Appropriate physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual touch are critical to healthy development.

Rule #4 – Don’t Resolve – Those who grew up with this rule came to believe that nothing was resolvable or even allowed to be brought to closure. This dynamic typically leaves individuals stuck in a crisis mode or with the hurtful aftermath of a confrontation that did not play out very well. Forgiveness over hurts, heartaches and misunderstandings are nonexistent or fleeting at best. The issues keep getting dragged back into the forefront, often used to shore up an accusation, defend a point of view or bludgeon someone into silence or submission. In other words, problems are not only avoided and left unaddressed in most cases, they are rarely if ever solved. Emotional wounds were “picked at” again and again much like a scab, until a long-lasting or permanent scar was the end result. This can also translate into how believers may approach forgiveness and letting go of past hurts. They may wrestle with either receiving or giving forgiveness. Some are convinced there is no reason in trying to address and solve problems because it cannot or will not change the outcome.

Rule #5 – Don’t Trust – This last rule is based, in part, on the first four. If there is no permission to talk openly, if there is no genuine expression of feelings, if there are no healthy forms of touch, and if there is no ability to bring something to successful resolution, then the hurtful conclusion is that no one can really be trusted either . . . even God! Being too afraid to trust leads to an independent spirit; being too hurt to love leads to pride; and being too angry to listen, leads to rebellion. Honesty and trust, especially within a Christlike environment, are like a glue that helps hold a relationship together. Without them, the trials and pressures of life, even everyday stress, may result in the relationship being torn asunder, leaving it ripped and shredded in small detached pieces. Ultimately, and when combined with the first four rules, a person’s journey through this kind of family system, weakens and compromises the formation of a well-adjusted self-identity.

Whether we are husbands or wives, fathers or mothers or provide coaching, care, and counsel to people, we must find ways to counteract the negative messages that are attached to these Rules. The good news of the Gospel is that we are loved, forgiven, offered the gift of grace and of such great value in the eyes of God that we were worth dying for. This does not mean we excuse sinful behavior and poor choices or never hold people accountable, but rather, to be proactive as we have the opportunity to affirm others in the eyes of God. So many people are buried in negativity, often by their own doing. Transformation can begin by telling them, “Shame off you!”

Eric Scalise, PhD, is the President of LIV Consulting, LLC. He currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with 40 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include marriage and family issues, professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. As the son of a diplomat, Dr. Scalise was born in Nicosia, Cyprus, and has also lived and traveled extensively around the world. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues. Dr. Scalise and his wife Donna have been married for 40 years, have twin sons – who are combat veterans serving in the U.S. Marine Corps – and four grandchildren.

The Number One Benefit of Executive Coaching

The Number One Benefit of Executive Coaching

by Dr. Rita Murray on November 29th, 2021

Self-awareness

The dynamic of self-awareness is what executives most often talk about in their coaching sessions – not their business strategy, but themselves and their emotion management. Helping executive coaching clients become more self-aware in order to improve their performance by enhancing their emotional intelligence (EQ) involves science and heart, not what many fear or think is nothing more than a“touchy-feely” approach. The ultimate purpose is for the client to increase their understanding of how emotions define leaders. The experience of their emotions creates for others (negative and positive) the ways to influence the bottom line and high performance and what they should seek feedback on from stakeholders. The concept of an executive coach varies and, thankfully, the perception of “having a coach” has become more generally accepted and positive. I attribute some of that attitude to sports. I came to appreciate the value of coaching more fully when I started playing golf and studying it and realized that no matter how well these players practice, no one can sustain their best performance on their own. In factmost professional golfers have multiple coaches for various areas of improvement or sustained performance. That is where coaching comes in. And for the business leader, it is equally true. My goal is to determine what routines and practices will best support my client’s personal performance.

So What Happens?

Clients complete varied assessments and receive valuable personalized data to help them identify the gaps between what they are doing and where they want to become more self-aware (i.e., more emotionally intelligent) and they create a plan of action to enhance specific behaviors. The best part is that executive coaching is carefully paced to meet each executive’s developmental needs and busy schedule and it is uniquely personalized to reinforce new behaviors and allow them to see the benefits of enhanced EQ over time. As a former CEO, I have a perspective on topics such as what constitutes great leadership and from my experience as a coach and educational psychologist, I work with each client as an individual to help them discover and take ownership of the solutions that are right for them.

One of the highlights of my coaching approach is to demonstrate what emotional intelligence IS NOT in order to make a lasting impression of whatEQ IS. We study their EQ facets and use exercises to demonstrate the importance of potential areas for improvement in assertiveness, empathy, emotional expressiveness, independence, flexibility, stress tolerance, emotional self-awareness, social responsibility, self-regard, self-actualization, impulse control, interpersonal relationships, problem-solving, reality testing, and optimism.The elements we select to enhance are based on feedback and insights from the client, as well as those they have identified that have a stake in the client’s professional development. Primary attention is focused on relevant exercises where self-awareness of behavioral tensions may safely and confidentially surface and through effective guidance. Those stressors can be clarified and better understood and, ultimately more healthy and sustainable leadership behaviors develop. Executives positively comment on this approach to helping them flex hidden, tired, and/or atrophied psychological muscles through entertaining and educational low ROPES (problem solving) exercises, as well as watching carefully selected soundbites from TedTalks and YouTube, which help clients visualize blind spots of what their approach to EQ IS and IS NOT.

Can You Really Improve through Executive Coaching? 

Yes. Rich scholarly evidence concerning the return on investment (ROI) of enhanced EQ is available from companies who advocate its value such as American Express, Center for Creative Leadership, L’Oreal, and the United States Air Force, to name a few. Key emotional intelligence characteristics that define high-performing leaders and their results have demonstrated that ROI significantly increases in direct proportion to enhanced EQ performance. Participating in executive coaching as an individual or in peer groups through team coaching is a rewarding investment of time to help sustain your best performance.  How about you . . . are you up for some EQ conditioning? 

Rita Murray, PhD, is the Founder and Principal of Performance Consulting, LLC, an organizational development firm, previous CEO and Chairman of a national energy services company, cognitive psychologist, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), executive coach, and sought after leadership consultant. She has held leadership roles at GE and Lockheed Martin, and is also a private pilot. Dr. Murray frequently speaks at leadership events and conferences and is highly regarded for her ability to connect personal and interpersonal development with the needs of business and with mobile and virtual technology. She has a particular gift for explaining the different perspectives of each generation and personality types to create a bridge of understanding towards healthier business relationships and ultimately a stronger bottom line. Dr. Murray lives in Moore, OK with her husband, Ron. See more at www.performanceok.com

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