Reading Mining for Gold by Tom Camacho brought back strong memories of Bill Burnett’s and Dave Evan’s New York Times best-selling book, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joy-Filled Life. The similarities between the two books are almost identical in theme: True happiness comes from designing a life that works for you. On the surface, these two books share stunning similarities of getting unstuck, way-finding, coming alive and vulnerable stories weaved throughout the content. Similar deeper level questions, weaved throughout Burnett’s and Evan’s book, were thoroughly organized at the end of every chapter in Mining for Gold.
Yet beneath the surface–and between the lines–these two books on the flourishing, well-designed life are sending opposite messages. They subtly represent our current mainstream crisis for this generation with two competing visions.
In Camacho’s chapters 9 and 10, he iterates the increased strength and power we have as human beings when we cooperate with how God made us. “We find momentum when we cooperate with our God-given design. Momentum releases freedom, fruit and fulfillment” (78). As a reader, my faith is strongly challenged by his visuals of seagulls and bottle-nosed dolphins flourishing in their environments as I am convinced that God built into my life all the tools I need to fulfill my destiny.
By contrast, the essentials Burnett and Evans teach is having good insights about yourself, exploring options about where to engage in the world and prototyping experiences (160). The picture of reality they create is that a person could find themselves unable to choose–or at least unable to choose with confidence–a way forward in their life, job, leadership role. The point is the burden is placed upon the reader’s efforts to design their own life. The authors assert that through the technique of mind-mapping (71) one can generate a plethora of ideas. This is innovation, they claim, and an activity that produces even more options in designing your life’s work.
In Mining For Gold, Camacho says, “Great coaching simplifies the complexity of leadership development. . coaching is the process of coming alongside a person or team to help them discover God’s agenda for their life and ministry . . .“ Which brings me to why I compared the two books: Although there’s a space for figuring some things out on our own, we need people to speak truth to us. The message that has gotten lost in the world of self-help and independence is God created us to encourage and be encouraged by others to become all He created us to be. Further, as David Brooks noted at the Lead Where you Stand conference, the solution to our current leadership crisis for emerging leaders is a posture of being willing to be taught, coached, challenged.
One surprising interview I had last fall was with Daniel, a 22-year-old engineer who recently relocated from Iowa to New York City. He left the world of engineering to help start a church through the Salt Company. As I pressed this young man with questions, he said something I won’t soon forget. From his first year at Iowa State University, leaders from the Salt Company intentionally coached and equipped him to be involved in the local church by asking him great questions. From being coached during his formative college years, Daniel discovered God’s design for his life. Daniel inadvertently listed the same method his coaches and mentors used that Camacho calls the four primary parts of Leadership Coaching: Deep listening, asking great questions, cooperating with the Holy Spirit and determining the right next steps When Daniel and I ended our Zoom interview that day, I wondered to myself how many of us leaders are in danger of missing these coaching opportunities? Might we be dismissive thinking high school, college-aged or young adults can find what they need on their own? Or in a book?
The difference between Burnett’s and Evan’s book with Camacho’s is perhaps best illuminated by David Brook’s advice to leaders on building up the Kingdom: He said we have an epidemic of blindness. We don’t see each other. Why don’t people flourish? Because people are not being recognized for who they are on the inside. To conclude I offer a few of his tips:
- Give 100 percent attention. Don’t dim
- Be a loud listener
- Make your client the authors not witnesses – ask for details
- Do the looping: “What I just heard you say”
- Find the gem statement: Find the disagreement under the disagreement
- Don’t fear the pause
Might the concept of Leadership Coaching be a Gospel-centered calling that will heal our epidemic of blindness?
Note: I actually found the book, Designing Your Life, to be helpful when I was helping one of my daughters navigate through her senior year of high school. Comparison helps me make a point not put someone’s work in a negative light–it’s a fabulous book!