The term, “Third Place” was coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his book, “The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts and How They Get You Through the Day. His idea was that “community” was somewhere in between home life and work life; a “third place” that was neutral, where people gathered informally, without obligation to duty or responsibility, rather, simply to enjoy the expression of each others’ personalities and life experiences through conversation.
Most followers of Jesus understand the value of community. God Himself enjoys community between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are invited to participate in that community, not only with God but with one another. We quickly learn that gathering together with like-minded believers provides a sense of belonging, a place where we are free to share whatever life throws at us. We give and receive acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, challenge, and growth. We pray for one another and provide encouragement when times are tough. In short, we find authentic friendship.
When I mention building community among coaches, many tell me, “I already have a close support group who is there for me.” That’s great! I do as well, and what a blessing that is! But don’t you ever feel the tug of desire to talk to someone who actually understands what you do? Someone who grasps the challenges of being a solopreneur, or the nuances of highly skilled coaching? Someone who has or is experiencing the myriad options, decisions, challenges and frustrations you face every single day? Someone who can say, “I know just what you mean. Here’s what I did.”
I believe there is a unique community – a “third place” for coaches to meet together and share coaching experiences, lessons learned, and challenge one another to our highest potential. Here are just a few things I value from my coach community:
The Value of a Coach Community
Community sharpens our thinking and ignites our creativity.
It’s so easy to fall prey to what is familiar and comfortable. Many coaches work at home, alone. Meeting on a regular basis with like-minded coaches in a convenient and accessible “third place” keeps us sharp, broadens our viewpoint, overcomes our stymied thinking and releases new, creative ideas. We gain access to each person’s expertise, experiences, personality and ideas. We welcome newcomers to coaching and have the opportunity to give back immeasurable help that is not easily found elsewhere. Proverbs tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We need that!
Community provides a way to identify others in our specialty.
Last year, I served on CCNI’s Board of Directors focused on membership. As I called individual members to personally connect, I was surprised to hear many of you ask, “Do we have any other coaches specializing in (marriage, addiction recovery, career transitions, fill-in-the-blank)?” Wouldn’t it be incredible to identify and connect with others in your niche? I met a coach online in another state who had hosted a marriage retreat for their church. I was planning a similar event. She sent me samples of her promo material, agenda and talking points, and shared the responses she had received. What a jump start that was to planning my own retreat!
Community enriches the coaching profession.
We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to so many early coaches who helped birth the high standards of our present coaching profession. Now it’s our turn – the next generation of coaches, so to speak – to continue the dialogue, to discuss the efficacy of proposed or needed changes, and to continue to encourage one another to live up to those high standards. Today, we are a self-regulated profession. We must all work together to demonstrate we are stewarding that trust well.
When we think we can do this coaching thing on our own, alone, we deceive ourselves. To be all that God created us to be, we must live in community. We need others’ voices, speaking truth into our lives, providing accountability, growth, prayer, fellowship and support. I believe this is the fullness of life in community that God intended. Next month, we’ll take a closer look at practical ways to build community among coaches around the globe. I hope you’ll tune in!
If you have a story of how community has impacted your coaching journey, share it with us in the Comments below!
About the Author:
Cathy Lee is a Certified Professional Life Coach, receiving her ACC credential through the International Coach Federation and her CCC credential through Christian Coaches Network International. Cathy has enjoyed a diverse career in executive leadership in both business and ministry over 30 years. She successfully led a multi-million dollar business unit for a global leader of enterprise data, analytics and software solutions. Cathy served 10 years on the leadership staff of her church, where she shared responsibility for strategic planning and leadership of 700 adults, 11 staff and more than 40 volunteer leaders. Today, she coaches business and ministry leaders across the globe to broaden their influence. Cathy is an avid reader and continual learner, and loves travel and landscape photography. She and her husband, John, have been married 37 years.