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Our world is in crisis.
COVID-19 has left unprecedented challenges in its wake for leaders and organizations.
Sheltering-in-place, social distancing, and historic unemployment have become our current realities.
Adapting to the “new normal” requires retooling.
Coaching is a great resource for leaders as they face unprecedented changes.
Coaching for Adaptive Change and Coaching for Resonance in my own coach training have been great resources as I guide leaders and executives on how to adapt and thrive in our world today.
Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, make a strong argument in their book Resonant Leadership that says, “the constant sacrifices and stress inherent effective leadership can cause us to lose ourselves and sink into dissonance.” They continue to argue that the chronic anxiety leaders face due to constant demands for sacrifice, calls for a conscious commitment to practice “cycles of sacrifice and renewal”. 1 They propose consciously practicing mindfulness, compassion and hope.
Leadership calls have never been more critical than they are right now. My coach training equipped me for my own self-practice of resonance and to coach leaders and executives in practicing renewal in order to lead from a place of resonance rather than dissonance.
Going through the coach training took me to a new level as a coach and in training the clients I’m working with.
One of the most important things to learn through coach training at the Center for Lifelong Learning is the foundational mindset that every client is creative, resourceful and whole.
I’ve learned to stay in the moment with a client an evoke transformation.
And I’ve learned to pay attention to the agreement established by the coach and the client and to constitute the relationship, the basis of every coaching experience.
I continue to grow in my coaching competencies through mentor coaching, in addition to my own leadership and executive coaching endeavors.
At the Center for Serving Leadership, where I work, we envision a flourishing world in which serving is the trademark of leadership.
We believe that when leaders focus on serving and empowering people under their leadership domain to thrive, those leaders achieve self-improvement as they see people discover their potential and thrive.
Therefore, rather than focusing on self-improvement, I suggest focusing on other people’s improvement by serving them. In their flourishing lies your flourishing.
In a world characterized by a self-focused philosophy of life, an attempt to focus on other people’s wellbeing is in order.
In the book of Jeremiah, the Israelites to whom Jeremiah was writing, had a hardship that was caused by their exile.
Jeremiah’s message was a tough calling to not focus on the end of exile as the basis or their relief from suffering.
Jeremiah did not want there to be any false hope or misunderstanding of their situation.
He said to them to make themselves at home there in Babylon and work for the country’s welfare.
He exhorted them thus, “Pray for Babylon’s well-being.
If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you” (Jeremiah 29:7).
Instead of focusing on the exile as an occasion for complaining and wishful thinking, Jeremiah invited the exiles to adapt to their situation and flourish.
The exiles needed to think differently.
Faithfulness to Yahweh did not require residence in Palestine.
God was with them! This was good news!
Their presence in Babylon was an occasion for Babylon’s own welfare and the Israelite’s prayers to their God were catalytic to it.
After all, they shared a similar fate; their own welfare was intertwined with Babylon’s welfare.
Exile was there to stay, but their way of thinking about it would make a difference.
Dare I say that COVID-19 still affects people and many are dying from it globally.
We may need to alter our thinking about life as we knew it before COVID-19 and thrive albeit under altered states of being and working.
For the exiles, like us, danger lurked, false prophets gave false hope and deception and manipulation prevailed and brought division in the community.
To this situation, Jeremiah warned them to watch out for those voices while holding on to hope that God indeed had better plans for them not to harm but to give them a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
While in that place of hope, Jeremiah said, “Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you” (Jeremiah 29:12).
Be encouraged and be hope bearers in a world that seem to be running short on supply.
Nelson Okanya was born in Migori, Kenya, and came to faith in his youth through the work of Mennonite mission workers in his community. He completed university and graduate school training in Kenya at Daystar University and Eastern Mennonite Seminary in the United States, focusing on Counseling, Pastoral Care, Theology, and Missiology. He is currently completing a Doctorate in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Nelson pastored a multicultural North American suburban Mennonite church in Lanham MD for 5 years and most recently, served as president of Eastern Mennonite Missions for over seven years. He chairs the Global Mission Fellowship and is a Vice-Chair for the Missions Commission for Mennonite World Conference. Nelson currently serves as Global Missions President at Center for Serving Leadership. He is passionately committed to a calling to missions, partnerships, and serving leadership. He is married to pastor Carmen Horst Okanya and lives with their two boys, Barak (13) and Izak (11) in Lancaster Pennsylvania.
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1 Resonant Leadership RICHARD BOYATZIS AND ANNIE MCKEE. Harvard Business School, 2005 p.58, 62