choice Magazine

Beyond the Page ~ Joe DeGraaf: A Coaching Path through DISRUPTION

November 14, 2021 Garry Schleifer
choice Magazine
Beyond the Page ~ Joe DeGraaf: A Coaching Path through DISRUPTION
Show Notes Transcript

In this interview, we talk with Joe DeGraaf about his article A Coaching Path through DISRUPTION.

Joe feels that "disruption is the tree that blocks our chosen road and clears an opening to a new part of the forest. It is the branching off of divergent paths that were never marked on our map and have no indications of which way we should go."

Joe is the assistant director of life calling at Indiana Wesleyan university. He's a certified life coach and strengths coach who works with clients with higher, within higher education, as well as small businesses and churches. Joe earned his master of arts from Ball State University, as well as graduate certificate in business. He's worked in the realm of higher education for nearly a decade and is dedicated to helping individuals overcome challenges and improve the world around them.

Watch the full interview by clicking here.

Visit Joe's website: https://www.joedegraaf.com/

Speaker 1:

I'm Gary Schleifer . And this is beyond the page, brought to you by choice the magazine and professional coaching, the ultimate resource for professional coaches in this wonderful arena of professional coaching we're than just a magazine choice is a community for people who use coaching in their work or personal lives. We've been building our strong, passionate following in the coaching industry for more than 20 years. In today's episode, I talked with coach and educator, Joe, Joe , I almost said Joe something , uh , I got Joe degra and I was like, that didn't seem right, but yeah, that's about his article in choice magazine, entitled a coaching path through disruption. A little bit about Joe. He's an ma a CLC . He's the assistant director of life calling at Indiana Wesleyan university. He is his coaching with students and independence clients. He's a certified life coach and ranks coach who works with clients with higher, within higher education, as well as small businesses and churches. Interesting, of course, Wesleyan, you know , uh , he earned his master of arts from ball, state university, as well as graduate certificate in business. He's worked in the realm of higher education for nearly a decade and his DEC dedicated helping individuals overcome and improve the world around them . Welcome, Joe. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a pleasure, Gary. Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Okay. So there's the first let's talk about you. Okay . So there's a huge disparity between higher education and business. Like how do those two intersect how'd you make that work?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, I've had a love of business and , um, a love of how organizations work, how systems come together. And so otherwise been kind of my focus. Um, but I've also had this really undying passion for students. So for me , um, I have this passion for business trying to develop that, but I kind of realized more of my angle is really looking at how do I prepare students for stepping into those organizations? How do I help them get to that point where they really know what they're doing and why , um , and be able to form businesses on their own or join organizations and really make a difference in those places. So that's how it connects for me at least.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Wow. That makes so much sense. Good for you and great doing that because there are a lot of, you know, it's like life people end up in places and they didn't have a book, a roadmap , a support system to get them in there. So, and okay. So, and then a little bit about what's, what does it mean life calling? Is that what we think it means like , uh , what you're called to be in life? Or is it something,

Speaker 2:

Yeah , yeah , it is . It is. So , um, there's actually been a lot of research over the past, like decade over calling and how it kind of fits in , um, beyond like , uh , traditionally people think of it as like a religious thing of a call for ministry. Um, and this is beyond that this is kind of finding your purpose, this thing that kind of calls you from the world. So that can be something supernatural that can also be , um , a need in the world that you really feel like you want to go out and solve. So , um, my work is really, really fun. I get to teach students every day , um, who they are and what is their purpose in life. So that is kind of of my whole thing. So I teach them or help them discover, I guess , uh, kind of what's really valuable to them. What's really important. Um, discover what's really strong about them and their unique experiences, passions and abilities, and then kind of tie all that to what are these needs in the world that I really feel drawn to go out and serve. Um, and so putting those things together creates a really thrive passionate group of people who know what they're doing, why they're doing it and get to really Excel in those areas. So I get to do all of that and I get to do some coaching as well. Um, oftentimes students coming in trying to figure out what their major is, or they started with a major and they decided, Hey, this is absolutely the worst choice for me. I gotta figure something else out. Yeah . Um, so being able to work with them again to this cover some purpose and things and , um, yeah, really see where they can go in their life. So it's a fun job. It's a great opportunity.

Speaker 1:

So where were you when I was finishing high school and deciding what to do with the rest of my life? Okay . Yeah,

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. Absolutely. For me too. I mean, I started out, I did not go the way that I thought I was gonna go, so I , I wish I was there for myself back. Okay .

Speaker 1:

Yeah . Well , and you know, in the end I know I'm in the right place because what I'm doing publishing choice and coaching is just, I keep saying to people, I, you know, I use quotes for work because I translate the word work into love because I love what I do. So it's not really work. Right. Yeah . So I love that , you know, but you, if I had met a Joe in my earlier days, he wouldn't have known unless he had a crystal ball that coaching was coming because it really only formalized itself as a profession about , oh , it's getting on, oh my gosh. It's almost 30 years now. 25, 30 years. Yeah. Yeah . So very cool. Very cool. Yeah. Well, thank you so much. I, I , I want to get talking about the article. Um, so where did your inspiration perspective for this article come from? My friend .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Um, well, I think there's some really obvious ones of, so much of this disruption that we have around us COVID is a great example of that and just seeing all the different reactions that people have to that. Um, but one of the things that I really thought about, especially , um, thinking through how coaches respond to disruption is that it really kind of highlights some of the superpowers of coaching. Um, it really gets at this positive mindset that we get to bring , um, at bringing some perspective and helping people explore some new, new things. And so , um, I really wanted to highlight kind of that ability that coaches have, and honestly, a little bit of that responsibility that this is a newer thing, 30 years old, like you just said, right? Yeah . Um, a newer thing, but the ability that we have the power that we have to step into people's lives and help them through these difficult times is a great responsibility and something that , um , we're kind of uniquely suited to go and do. Um, I've just kind of seen this need for positive mindsets and growth. And I mean, I see it with my students as well as my , um, external clients. Um , my students coming in struggling , uh, the freshman that we have in , in here this year, it's like they've had the last two years of high school as a COVID year. Um, and they're stepping into those situations, not knowing what to do, not knowing what's next , um, or running into roadblocks and figuring out, Hey, I don't know what to do next. I'm at a , I'm at a stopping point and I don't know where to go. Um, seeing those things and being able to kind of step in and say, Hey, there is a way to look at this, not only as , um, you know, something to move around and a challenge to adapt to, but really a positive thing to really , um, hold onto as this is an opportunity. So what is out there now for me that I get to go and see, get to experience. So yeah , that was kind of my inspiration for it. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. You know, and I really loved what you said about opportunity because you , your , what you said is, is , uh , in , in line with what I say, and I say it quietly, because I, you know, I'm being respectful of those that were impacted by COVID , but there were tons of gifts as a result of the lockdown and yeah . You know, reconnection with family , uh, we talked to friends who we don't norm . We only see them once a year on vacation seriously. Yeah . Yeah . And we would meet with them every other week on, on zoom. And it's something that we never did before. So, you know, you say opportunities, which is true. And I say gifts and possibly along, along the same lines. Yeah . Um , I wanna say something else about that I, that dawned on me and maybe you, you have the same sense about this, but when I was reading this, I, I was the word change seemed to feel like it was interchangeable with disruption, the way you describe disruption was merely. So we're used to change. Right. A lot of people don't like it, but it's like you say nature, it's just part of how things happen. But I started to think in from reading your article, that disruption was merely really rapid, bigger effect coaching. Like you basically took the timeframe of change and squashed it down to a second versus, you know, an hour, if you will, what does that sound familiar or does that make sense?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I see where you're coming from with that, for sure. Um, I think for me, when I view disruption and change together, it's in the mindset of , um, disruption is almost a catalyst for change. Um , disruption is the event itself that causes

Speaker 1:

Something

Speaker 2:

That happens that causes us to change and react to it. Yeah . Um, so that's the way that I view it as kinda like this catalyst. It's like the lighting of that torch that says, okay , something is different and we need to move forward in a different way now. Right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Oh, good point. The catalyst. Yeah. Okay, good. Now, now I know how to put those two together, but that , that's why they showed up that way. Right. And you were saying a lot about that too. Sorry. Yeah,

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And no. And so there's this KET , it does feel like this is like a short moment. Right, right . Because it's here is this moment that causes us to pause. Um, and it's how we react to that. That's kind of our movement around, it's the change that has to occur because of it. So, but it feels like that really short moment, because the disruption tends to be, I mean, there are these long moments, there's, you know, COVID had a long spreading thing and the change that that brought was its own thing. Um, and we have those moments in our life in a variety of ways. Um , but there is this moment of, okay, there is a decision now change has to happen. What is that gonna be? Yeah .

Speaker 1:

And what are, like you say, what are the opportunities, right. Exactly. Speak really well about how to, how to deal with that in there. Um, but you know, there's then I think about, okay, so disruption, we talk about some small ones, but some really big ones. What happens when the disruption feels too big for the client?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think you kind of touched on this a little bit earlier. There are these massive things that happen in people's lives and it's not that disruption it's gonna be this pleasant experience all the time. Um, and sometimes, you know, I mean, we have to honor those moments as well. Um, I think sometimes with those , uh, my mindset kind of goes to three words of , uh, purpose perspective and people , um, okay . And when , and when I think through those it's that purpose of okay. And that's from my own mindset as well, my own kinda lens for things. Right. Um, but those purpose things, what we're really doing, what we're hoping to accomplish , um, that's a huge driver for us and that gives us a different angle at how we look at the world. Um, instead of focusing on that problem and how know this has made this big , um, issue for us, if we can look okay, how are we still able to pursue this purpose that we're going for, whether that's a personal purpose or an organizational one , um , how are we still going after that mission and vision? Okay . Um, that perspective too, right. Of sometimes that it's too big because we're kind of standing too close to it. Um, I think about that of like, you know , you're close to a mountain and you're right there next to it and it looks massive. It's like I can't climb that. I can't even drive a car up that . So why , but stepping back a little bit further, you see 'em in the horizon and you , you can , you can tell it's big, right. Doesn't change the size of them, but you get a little bit different perspective. You can see whats around it a little bit more.

Speaker 1:

Yeah .

Speaker 2:

And then the last one is people for me , um, is who's around you to actually help with that. Um, oftentimes when we think about things being too big, it's because we independently can't solve it on our own , um, uh, in a recent podcast , uh, that we were just talking about a few minutes ago , um, off the podcast , uh, uh , there is this note about , um, the first find about finding the people that you can bring into your life that add diversity, that add different perspective. Um, and I think that is of massive importance for us. It gives us such an edge to be able to say, okay, I can't do this on my own. I need people who are different than me. People who are gonna bring different strengths and abilities , um, different ways of seeing the world so that you can go about that together. Um, and I think that's really powerful. So purpose perspective people, that's where I tend to sit when I'm in a position where it's like, okay, this is really big. It truly is. I'll acknowledge that. Now what's my purpose here, what perspective can I get the it's different? And who can I bring into this process that , that can help me get over this big thing? So, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And this is why we do these podcasts, cuz you didn't say anything about people's perspective and purpose, which is great. I mean our pages are, you know, it's limited, right? So, you know, you , you get in some great wisdom and then we just come here and we just stretch that out and get even more. So thank you. Yeah . I

Speaker 2:

Love it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. Um, okay . So I have to stop and ask. So what do you feel is your purpose?

Speaker 2:

My purpose. Um, so I actually have a statement for myself , uh , that oh , awesome . Kind of guides me through things and we do this with students too, but , um, is to have a positive guide on impact on the world, around me. Um, so positive again, it fits right with what I'm saying here. Yeah . Uh , there's so much negativity and I really want to see positive growth. I want people to focus on the what if in a positive opportunistic kind of way. Um, and I wanna be that kind of person people's lives. Um, the God honoring one. I mean, yeah. I work at Indiana west and , and that's , that's a big part of my life. Um, uh , faith for me and how I live that out, how I served God, that's a big part for me and it drives me forward , um, impact, right. It's this idea of, I see like the moon having different craters . I want to have those individual little ones in conversations, but I also wanna have these big impacts. Um, I wanna seek out ways to have a bigger crater in the earth kind of thing. Right. Um, and the world around me , um, is like literally whoever I'm talking to. So Gary right now for you and me. Yeah . It's you and whoever's listening to this podcast. Yeah . Um, it's, whoever's around me, whoever I can influence and be a part of their lives. Um, that's what I'm searching for. So that is my purpose. Um ,

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Yeah . I had to ask because you're really talk eloquently and well , uh , about purpose and how it fits in. And obviously you would have a statement.

Speaker 2:

I , I would feel bad if I'm doing my job and I don't have my own kind of purpose figured out. And I mean, it continues to change too. I think we continue to develop and understand that , um, in deeper ways as we go forward. So , um , Same two years

Speaker 1:

Now . Yeah. And if I wanna say reiterate again, it's so great that you do that with students. Yeah . Like to get them on that start and then leave the opening that it , it can change, but it gives them something to step into, right. Something to, to it . How do we say it? It's like pick something right. Do something at least then you can tell whether you like it or you don't like it. So pick , pick a purpose. It could suck, but at least you picked one. I mean, you , you're obviously gonna give them a good one that resonates and look around at their life. But uh, wow. I love how this took a turn into purpose. I don't know . Yeah . Maybe that's the day. Maybe that's the thing. Yeah. Maybe, maybe. Yeah . Well , let's go back to the article. So, so , okay. So you really have to expand on this one. What do you mean by seeing around corners?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, I , I , you hear that word all the time or that phrase all the time of people trying to see around corners and being able to like plan for the unplannable basically , um, you know, there's quotes by Eisenhower , um, that are a little bit different depending on which one you read about. Um, essentially planning is essential, but uh , once it's once, like the fighting starts, it's worthless kind of thing. So that's not a direct quote. Don't quote me on that, but it's around those ideas. Um, uh , but for me , uh, when I think about scene around corners, I kind of visualize like a chess board . Um, when you play chess, there's millions of different possibilities. And actually after just a couple moves, there's already millions of possibilities of how the game can go. Um, when I'm thinking about that, I like to see that as a way of you can't plan for it all. Um, you can't come up with a million different answers to everything that can happen. And that's not the point. If we're trying to see around corners to see every possibility, it's not gonna help us go forward, it's not gonna give us any actionable work to do. We're just gonna have , have an , an enormous amount of data and not have any way to kind of sift through it. So we can't plan at all. And I think that's an important part of that. Um, uh, for me, it's looking at the whole board it's being observational about, okay, what is actually happening around me? Um, how can I be present in this moment that gets back to some of those , um , perspective things that we're talking about. Okay, what happening right now? Um, I talk about this in the article, but when that path that you're on, right. That plan and path, that feels good. And you know, it's a nice road you're comfortable on that. And that gets kind of broken off.

Speaker 1:

Exactly. Right . Something comes across. Yes. Yeah. I

Speaker 2:

Picture like this massive Redwood just like falls across and it's like, I can't get back on this path right now. Yeah . Which way do you go? How do you kind of adapt to that? And if you're paying attention to your surroundings already, you can already know, okay. This way is a little bit less dense of a woods kind of thing. Right. Um, or I did see this trail back here. Let me go back to that and follow that off a little bit. Um, seeing those things around you, having that observational awareness for things is a really key part of , um, being able to adapt to these changes. Being able to see around corners is being able to just observe what's around you right now. Um, I mentioned the article trying to plan for like, what's the implications? What are the first, second, third kind of things that can happen? That's really difficult to do. Um, for me again, yes. It's seen that whole board. Um, and then for , um, people who are walking through this, it's focusing on that end game . Um, it's focusing, okay, what is actually my goal? Where am I trying to go? Um, and again, that purpose comes back to it. I think purpose is a vital part of what we do. Um, but when we have our idea of okay, where I'm actually trying to go and it doesn't have to be this overarching massive thing, but what's the thing that got cut off. What do I know about the world around me right now and my opportunities. Um, and then what's kind of that path that I want to take. Where is that gonna potentially leave me? How can I make sure that this is still going toward that end goal? Um, and that's kind of where I see that is focusing on that end game , seeing the whole board a little bit , um, and then playing to your strengths, right? You gotta play your own game. Um, and you know, we're not gonna be able to plan a hundred moves ahead even like the best chess players only playing like three or four moves ahead. They can see a bunch of different possibilities, but they're really only playing if you move moves ahead. Um, so what is it that you're gonna plan? What are the few steps that you wanna plan ahead while still seeing the end game still seeing where you're trying to go? Um, that's where I see like seeing around corners a little bit more, that that's how I see that

Speaker 1:

I can't help. But when you're saying these things, keep thinking back to purpose perspective and people, because, you know, when you look at the, you know, the end game , the purpose, the what's going on , uh , the , so what's , what's next, what could be around the corner? So it goes back to that mountain analogy, right. Stepping back and, and we're good at that as coaches, sometimes we say, okay, client, we're going to the 30,000 foot level. What do you see from here? Right. And that again, you know, to the chess analogy, it's like, so what are the, you know, well, the end game is to win , um, obviously, but what do we face with right now? And then what people do we need and what do we bring in strengths? So, wow. You're just, you're just walking and talking your stuff. Mr. Joe.

Speaker 2:

That's what I mean. I tried to, I tried to, I tried to, but I do . I mean, I, you think that purpose perspective and people, I mean, that brings so much depth and richness to this disruption conversation and just our daily lives, because there is so much disruption in it. Oh Yeah. So bringing in the right people, I mean, and again, that's been a big thing that I've seen a lot in my own life. I can't do things on my own. I can't have my best success in own, so who else can I bring in? That's really gonna bring some richness and like difference to what I'm bringing , um, really makes it a lot stronger. So , um , yeah . Yeah. I mean, as a coaches , again, this is kind of our, our superpower area, right. Is we get to step in and help people see this perspective part. We get to see things from a perspective that is a little bit further back. So , um, yeah. It gives us a different vantage point . That's really, really powerful. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Well , I've been told numerous times in the last couple weeks that it's like, thank God I have a coach. I don't . And I don't know what, I, I don't know if I could have had this conversation with anyone else. I, I, I am so appreciative of the opportunity to have somebody to me, you know? So yeah. Super power is just in the being there and the listening sometimes. Right. It's really great. Yeah,

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And that coach right for you, it's like they get to bring out the best in you, which is a fun thing to do, but they also get to make the most of who you are in those moments. And that's just such a powerful, amazing moment.

Speaker 1:

Oh, I know. I just, that's why I say I love what I do as work. Yeah , yeah, absolutely. And then people are asking me so, or no. Well, sorry. I'm asking myself and reflecting on other people's conversation about retirement and I'm like, why , why would , what , what, why would I wanna retire? I mean , I love what I , you talk about people. I've got great people , uh, behind me with choice magazine and the more coaching I take on the more they have to do. And the more they rise up and , uh, face the challenge and, and they run with it brilliantly. So I'm blessed there and again, it's people. Right. And , uh, so yeah, that's awesome. Yeah . Um, with our articles, we like to ask the author to give our coaches some actions, actionable items. What else would you like our audience to take from this article and conversation and put into practice?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. I think , uh, one of the big things for me is the mind shift. Um , if , if you can work on one thing with coaching is helping your clients , um, really discover that mindset that looks at change and disruption in this positive opportunistic way , um, to look at that for your own life too, to make sure that when you come into moments of disruption, that it is so something that you focus on, on the good, the positive. Um, and for me, one of the action items for that is just to take a breath. Um , when things happen ,

Speaker 1:

How many times I've said that over the last week of clients, okay . Let's just stop and breathe for a minute. Just

Speaker 2:

Breathe. Exactly, exactly. And I think that's really powerful. I mean, and like you said , yeah , even in those moments with clients and just saying, let's just take a breath here, because even as you mentioned at the beginning, right, this disruption feels like it's this moment that it's really quick, here's this like instantaneous thing. It's, it's immediate , it's in front of you and your heart rate goes up and your adrenaline kind of kicks in and you want to respond and you feel like you need to respond right now in this moment. Um, but just taking a breath and oftentimes give us that way of again, giving space. And then in that space, being able to look at things from a little bit different lens, be able to see , yes, this is a challenge, but what else is there? What opportunities might be coming from this? How do I honor the challenge that's there, but also honor my ability to live in choice and be able to see that this is a positive , um, forward momentum kind of place that I can go to. Um, that'd be a big one. And then I think for me again, I've mentioned this a couple times, but , um, working on things ahead of time , um, planning for disruption , um , and that's setting up, if you don't know more of what your purpose is, maybe if you don't have your own purpose statement , um, being able to put that together of a , what is really the purpose of what we're doing here. So when things come up, you still know where you're trying to go. Um, that , that tree that falls down, doesn't block your sight of the future and you lose complete perspective of where you're even trying to go. Um, being able to have that firmly in your mind , um , and hold onto that is important. Being able to have those people. And if you don't feel like you have those people that are really gonna add to your life when you've hit things, and you said, no, it's too big and I can't get around it. Start adding those people into your life, find ways to diversify your community, those people that you can rely on and support. Um, if you can have those people on hand already, when you hit those moments, you already have that purpose in front of you. You already know where you're going. Um, and you already have those people that are gonna be there to help you through that moment, to be able to make this a more fluid kind of situation. Um, all you need is a coach to kind of help you with that perspective part and be able to step back. So , um , those would few of the action items. I think that I would , uh ,

Speaker 1:

Oh , that's brilliant. Yeah. Thank you. Um , I'm what I'm leaving with today is the reminder that disruption is the event and changes the impact or the outcome. Yeah . And just to remember, to put those in perspective , um, just to go back to quickly on your diversity conversation, what , um , what I've been doing late , and this is based on the podcast, we were talking about one of the other ones I've done with Cheryl Proctor Rogers, where, and I used this in a board meeting the other day, an editorial board meeting let's have a conversation that disrupts confirmation bias. So we actually set the intention or purpose of the meeting was that don't talk about the same old thing. Like let's, let's notice our confirmation bias and disrupt it in the moment and, and take, be , uh , purposeful, keep using that word purpose, be purposeful in disrupting it. So, yeah . That's awesome. Thank you's

Speaker 2:

Powerful way of looking at things. Yeah, I love it . Yeah .

Speaker 1:

Oh, and you know, I , I , I , I was also saying in the, in one of my episodes or meetings that I, I , once I knew what confirmation, sometimes you need to educate yourself, obviously always be educating yourself. Um , and confirmation bias started to show up in my social media, like, well, sorry, it didn't show up. I started to notice confirmation bias. So for example, my Facebook would say, Hey, you know, you might like these, you know, might wanna connect with these people. And I noticed they were all people like me, all white privileged people. Well, I don't know if they're privileged, but they're white people, usually men, that sort of thing. So I started playing a game to see if I could change that by only accepting the people that didn't look like me. So disrupting it in my social media feed to see what would happen and things like that. Yeah . So, you know, just an interesting Yeah . Way to change the perspective in your life. So,

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And just being aware of it, right. I mean, that awareness has brought a change. It's brought a difference to how you , um , kind of walk into it. And I , I think those are some really unique kind of interesting ways of approaching it too. I love that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah . Being proactive. I love it. Yeah . Um , Joe , thank you so much for joining us for this beyond the page , uh , episode, what's the best way for people to reach you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Um, uh , people can email me at the graph coaching , gmail.com. Um, so that's D E G R a a F coaching@gmail.com . Um, I've got a Dutch name that has those double A's in there, double

Speaker 1:

A's .

Speaker 2:

Yep . Um, uh , but that's probably the best way to reach me otherwise@autograph.com . People are welcome to , um , visit there. I post some writings every once in a while there as well.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Great. Well, thank you very much. That's it? For this episode of beyond the page? Um , I make it sound like the Twilight zone sometimes. Uh , please sign up to our email list@choiceonline.com to find previous episodes, or you can subscribe through your favorite podcast app. So don't miss any of our informative episodes. If you're interested in getting a free digital issue of choice magazine, head on over to choice online.com and click the signup now button I'm Gary Schleifer , enjoy the journey to mastery.