Getting Busy With It

Not another blog about how busy someone is and how they haven’t had time to write their blog and how they feel guilty about it. Please, not one of those. OK, I promise. Here’s a bit of what’s going on, followed by some encouragement to go out and work on your own stuff!

Besides working on multiple book projects, some with co-authors, there are as many as six or seven speeches, training groups or classes I’ll be leading this fall, two international trips (and fundraising to make that happen) and oh, yeah, I need to get my kid’s soccer schedule on my calendar. All that before Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, I will probably get a bit of a break… except it will be prime time for fundraising for the nonprofit’s 2017 budget.

I’m starting to find a sweet spot in spending money on marketing that actually brings in a decent return on investment, so there are more clients these days for individual coaching.

I have this to say to aspiring life coaches, motivational speakers, and authors: if you think you’re good at one of those three, get better. Then learn to market, manage websites, network your butt off, give lots of real value in exchange for the buck you earn, earn that buck for real, no scams, and then start getting good at the other two disciplines. They all go hand in hand to support you, like a stool with three legs. The bottom line is that in addition to providing great service, giving good speeches, and writing good books, you have to learn a fourth skill: that of entrepreneurship. Which means sales. Which means recognizing you aren’t going to close every deal. Get over yourself. You aren’t the best coach for everybody, but for the right people you’re very good.

People are going to ask you if you’re like Tony Robbins or John Maxwell.

I liked what Simone Biles said the other day, something like: I’m not the next Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.

Yep. I’m the first Adam Fleming. I’m not like Tony Robbins or John Maxwell, but I have every reason to be confident I can help people just as much as one of those guys could, and certain people I’m going to be able to help a lot more. Realize that you’ve got a unique perspective, nobody else has it.

Then, when you can’t sleep at 1 AM, don’t watch TV. Post another blog. Keep working.

Then, when the weekend comes, know how to take a break.

This goes for a lot of people with the entrepreneurial spirit. Get good at what you do, present yourself with confidence, work hard, over-deliver, and learn how to rest.

Want to partner with my nonprofit efforts, get involved with one of the workshops I’m leading, or check out my books? Cool. I’m glad you said “yes, I’ll read on!”

Here are the two primary websites, followed by my Amazon author page:

Adam G. Fleming author page


Podcast with Chris Risse

I was honored to be a guest on Chris Risse’s podcast today. Check it out. It’s about finding a niche, branding and what it means to be a life coach. And lots of other stuff I think you’ll find amusing.


Foundational Coaching Skills Training

Interested in getting trained in Foundational Coaching Skills? I work together with CMI to provide this training every year. I don’t own the training, I just help lead it, but I can confidently say that as someone inside the industry this class is the absolute best value you can get anywhere. That’s because the training is top notch, and if you apply yourself for the entire course you’ll have a great grasp of coaching, and you’ll get it at a fraction of the price you’d get anywhere else. The deadline for this year’s FOCOS Indiana course is looming, so read more about it today if you think you might want in!

Want more info? Here you go.

Brainstorming for Coaches

Ooh, I love brainstorming. It’s most fun when I’m part of the project, because I get to throw my ideas in the hopper right away.

If you’re a coach, though, your role is a little different. Your job is to get out of the way. One of the most important things you have to do is help the group (assuming you’re coaching in a group setting) to keep from judging ideas too quickly, by saying


The brainstorming time is not a time for thinking of all the reasons it won’t work. I found it rewarding to hear from some guys I trained in Kinshasa that they still remember this when they are discussing options for how to proceed. In a land full of poverty, they don’t allow themselves to have a poverty of options. They look at each other and say “Remember Adam: NO BUTS.”

They say it in French. But it’s the same in any language. The coach’s job is to stay out of the way, so while you may have brilliant ideas all day long, this isn’t the time to share them.

There’s nothing wrong with throwing a few ideas in (with your clients’ permission) towards the end of the session.

Tonight I worked with a guy who suggested doing a raffle for a seminar he’s preparing to host in the Philippines. After an hour of brainstorming and planning, I finally asked permission to share something, and made a suggestion that gave him a slightly different twist on his idea. And he liked it!

The discipline to keep your ideas to yourself is challenging, especially when you’re as creative as I am. But it’s worth it to practice this, because the most important thing is to play your part.

More on “sonder”

Here’s part of an e-mail which arrived as I was heading off to Thailand from my good friend and alert reader Jason P.:
I just wanted to drop a note to say I really liked your chapter on “Sonder” in your book.  I’m apart of a small monthly group at Faith Mennonite and we reflected on another new term for me called “the loving eye gaze” which would basically describe as seeing God in nature and others.  I immediately related this term to Sonder which you introduced me to and told the group about your book and the term Sonder. 

A thought that I had was that practicing Sonder is done in living one’s usual “mundane” life, but you almost need extra ordinary events (like the trip your taking now) to give us out side perspective and to realize the importance of the “other” the “different.”  It takes a shake up of our routine to notice things outside what becomes regular to us.  A shake up to realize that others are just as complex and interesting as ourselves.   

As a response to your Sonder chapter I was wondering if you could give more examples of how Jesus showed sonder.  I don’t have the book in front of me now, but I remember you do refer to Jesus showing sonder in how he wanted us to live abundant lives and how he illustrated it by dying on the cross (being our “supernova” or some such verbage you used).  This all sounds well and good, but still seems a little abstract for me.  I was wondering if you could provide a few scriptural examples of Jesus showing Sonder, perhaps in a follow up blog?  Or perhaps your wanting me as the dear reader to do that in my own brain, which I think I can do.  I thoroughly enjoyed your Sonder chapter, but I was left at the end feeling like I wanted more examples from Jesus showing Sonder. 

Jason, thanks for the great questions. Sonder is a concept from an artist named John Koenig and I highly recommend checking out his other coined terms and the videos that go with them. If you see a good one mention it in the comments! In preparing my response I had to go back again and look at his original definition to see if sonder is something which can be “showed”. It’s defined as a particular awareness, and so I do think it can be, in the sense that your actions reveal what you are and are not aware of. For example, my children do not seem to be aware that leaving the door open in our entryway which doubles as a laundry room, during winter, jeopardizes our washing machine; lines freeze, washer breaks, repair bill ensues. Their careless action reveals their general lack of awareness. The awareness that people have lives which are equally intricate as our own is something that mature people who are not constantly focused on their own needs and desires exhibit often. As I thought about this today I was travelling; I noticed the hotel pool was lifeguarded by a man I’d bet is from India or Pakistan. Somewhere he has a family, whom he likely sends money, he sits around all day caring for this rooftop pool and what else? Who knows?

So, then, Jesus fits that mold too. How about the time when Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman at the well. “You’ve had five husbands,” he says. Not as an accusation, but demonstrating that he sees her life not as a passerby but in some sort of beyond-sonder intimate detail. I talked with my dad about that and he said, “yes, it must be a word of knowledge because it would drive you crazy to know everyone’s story in that much detail as you walk around.” I think that’s true. There are other times when someone might have gone unnoticed but for the fact that she dared to reach out and touch the hem of his robe. “Who  touched me?” The awareness is always there that people are walking around as shadows, perhaps appearing only once in his story, as perhaps he did in theirs. but the engagement wasn’t, at least so long as he walked in human form.
But he is always ready to default to the premise that they have great value. Greater than anyone sees on the surface. This lifeguard in Abu Dabhi may only make a few dollars a day, but the money he sends home may feed eight, or sixteen, mouths. He’s very valuable to someone, and that’s just economically speaking! The value Jesus saw in others, whether he knew how many husbands they’d had or not, goes far beyond their earning power. It’s the value of someone uniquely designed.

I’d love to hear other thoughts on how Jesus showed this awareness of others’ complex lives. I think there are lots of them, and lessons to be learned from each. One last comment: I agree that travel, and the arts, and other things, can really help us be more aware, notice others in new ways.  That’s an excellent point you made!

Smaller and Quieter in 2016

I got to do a lot of extra listening this month as I completed the Final Evaluations (they’re called “4C Evaluations” though I don’t know why) for a group of new coaches I’ve been helping train all year. I say even less than normal during an Eval because the trainees are coaching each other, and I just observe quietly for a full 40 minutes before I say a word.

One of my trainees did a very nice job coaching, helping the other person (the coachee) to slow down and take time to process something, and as I debriefed the session, I had a picture in my mind:

Have you ever watched the Kentucky Derby or another major thoroughbred horse race? At the end of the race a racehorse is all geared up for speed. Their heart is racing and they’re doing exactly what they were born to do: fly around a track in 2 minutes or so. But they have to cool off gradually so they don’t pull a muscle or whatever. The jockey is there, of course, reining them in, but they need more help.

Next time you watch a race, notice the horse that comes alongside this thoroughbred. The Alongside Horse comes up and communicates with the racer, helping them ease out of their wild-minded, chomping at the bit excitement, so that they can cool off gradually. In other words, the trainer makes sure the horse has a friend who can help him settle down and refocus on what’s next. The Alongside Horse isn’t a great racer — they’re a calming influence. That’s a totally different kind of horse. If these horses were on the DiSC scale, the thoroughbred would be a HIGH D while the Alongside horse is probably anything else.

It’s not unusual to see coaching clients who are going from one thing to the next so fast they don’t have time to breathe.

So, rather than bigger and better in 2016, my mantra is smaller and quieter, calmer. Helping people ease out of their fast-paced life and stop for a moment to breathe.


Listening to your Family

I’ve been writing about writing on Thursdays, community on Saturdays. If you missed the Fusions in the Void check the archives, especially if you’re in a valley or desert season in your life, or in what has traditionally been known as The Dark Night of the Soul since St. John of the Cross identified it that way. That series ran every Tuesday for the last 15 weeks.

Time for something new on Tuesdays, and I guess at least for a one-off I’ll talk about Motivational Listening again. Once the holidays are over I’ll evaluate whether I want to run a series on Tuesdays or just do one-offs on listening. Feel free to drop me a comment and leave a request for me to comment on any particular topic.

Listening to your family:

I get so busy with coaching clients sometimes that I forget to listen carefully to the few things my children and my wife say to me. This is so convicting, it’s worth writing about over and over.

Around Christmas and New Year’s we get together with the people we most need to listen to, and we do our best to ignore their opinions and ideas. Sometimes that’s healthy. My sister-in-law announced to the entire family on Christmas Day at breakfast that she hoped we could suspend any political discussions for a day. And it’s not that we fight, so much, it’s just that we can spend one day enjoying each others’ company without digging into things that can cause friction. So we stayed away from it, because, sister, I’m listening. If you listen for peoples’ desire for peace, you can support it.

My mother-in-law said grace at brunch on Christmas Day. Halfway in she choked up, to her own surprise. She’s so grateful for the grandkids; I think she’s pleased, for the most part, with even her sons-in-law. I’m grateful for a mother-in-law who loves the family so much that praying over them would move her to tears. Mom, I’m listening. If you listen to people, you can see where their love rests, and learn from their love.

My father-in-law, a staunch Republican, surprised me this morning (the moratorium on politics over) that he’s thinking about voting for [candidate X] because he’d rather have [ideology X] in the White House than [Lord and Master of the Minions and Inhabitants of Hades X]. At first I thought he was joking, but realized that he’s not missing the big picture when he watches the GOP debates. I’m listening. He often comes across with self-degrading language that indicates we who have college degrees are smarter than he is. This is not true. He has a variety of street smarts I’ll never touch. If you listen to people, really listen, you’ll begin to see where they know more than you do, and recognize the places where you can learn from them.

My wife asked me (as I posted in a different discussion Saturday about community) to make sure to spend time with my children during the vacation, and not immerse myself in books and writing while we’re at the in-laws. I’m listening. She’s going out with her sisters this afternoon to see about mounting her deceased grandmother’s diamonds. I’ll be parent-on-duty. It’ll be fun! The kids are having such a great time with their gifts, and with their cousins. If you listen to your spouse and children, you’re clued in to their needs, and you can give them what they hope for. Jesus talked about how if a son asks his father for a fish, would he give him a stone? No! Unless he isn’t listening. Then, he might give him a stone, or just nothing. Listen, then give fish.

My dad likes to give people five dollar bills on occasion and not for any reason that they earned, but just because he loves them. He calls it “a fish”, too. I love to tell my kids I’m proud of them. They always say “why?” and I say, “because you’re my son/daughter. That’s all the reason I need.” This builds the relational capital they’ll need to have with me one day when it’s time to come to me and tell me something they’re afraid I don’t want to hear. I only hope they trust me enough to tell me. To know that I’ll be listening.

Listening like this happens out of unconditional love for one another. Learning to listen better is the best gift we can give each other for the New Year.

Once in a while at the end of my blog I like to remind you that I have books for sale and would love to sign one for you and ship it out. Please cruise over to the bookstore and purchase one … or both! I appreciate your support!