Workshops or seminars are also good — here you have a bit longer to learn about a specific topic, and even interact a bit with the other people who are learning.
But there is nothing like coaching.
A coaching environment is way different than anything else. A conference may have hundreds or thousands in attendance … a workshop could have scores … but the right coaching environment is personal and transformative for no more than 20 people. Everyone has a chance to be heard. Every story can be told and unpacked. Coaching happens over a period of weeks or months, so there is enough time between gatherings that life has a chance to happen. You are actually learning while you are in the trenches. You have time and encouragement to roll up your sleeves and let down your guard with peers you grow to trust.
In a healthy coaching group, you find a safe place to discuss the unique circumstances you face without any fear of reprisal or judgment. You establish a network of new relationships, and find yourself surprised by how those relationships were deep enough
to continue for years.
I had an opportunity about three years ago to join a coaching network that met four times over a period of 24 months. We all wanted to grow and learn, and we were all church leaders — other than that, nothing connected us. I had never met most of the people in the group — a few I respected from a distance, but did not know. I was amazed by how this concentrated time allowed us to connect strongly and grow deeply. I’m not a touchy- feely-need-to-have-lots-of-new-friends kind of guy. Yet at the end of our gatherings, I was surprised by how I was connected with the other men and women in the group. And many of those connections continue.
The impact of a conference lasts a few days; a workshop might benefit you for an entire season. But a healthy, well-led coaching environment will expand your resources and gain you years of learning.