How A Great Coaching Question Turned Injury into Opportunity

by | Aug 30, 2022 | Coaching, Lament, Lasting Transformation, Living, Longing, Mindset, Perspective

Today marks nine days since the accident. A week ago Sunday a large, heavy mirror fell over, broke, and then hit my left leg. The sharp edge of that mirror created a six-inch laceration, severed three tendons and a nerve, and took a chip out of my leg bone. On Tuesday, the orthopedic surgeon put everything back together and I started the long road to recovery. While the exact details are not yet clear, it looks like six to nine months of physical therapy before I’m able to do what was I enjoying the week before the injury — camping, hiking, and a poor imitation of stand up paddle boarding.

During the consult the day before the surgery, I was already thinking about what I would not be able to do. We manage two different properties for Eagles Rest and I had a list of repairs and upgrades on each. No standing on ladders to finish the lighting project I had started in the kitchen of house number two. No possibility of starting the deck railing on house number one. The water pump on my teardrop had been acting up and needed diagnosis and repair. I had recently purchased two tongue storage boxes for the trailer and was looking forward to installing them. Two more projects that required standing, bearing weight, and carrying heavy items. Arriving home, I began to notice other projects that would be put on long-term hold. It was hard not to grow discouraged, even though I was focusing on the Navy SEAL approach to adversity — setting a micro goal to make it through the immediate challenge, rather than the longer term challenges ahead.

The day after surgery I was gathered with some of my fellow Full Focus coachesduring the Strategic Design Workshop. I was sharing my injury story when Ed asked me a great coaching question: “How are you going to use all of your newly available time, now that you can no longer do the things you used to do?” It was a great question! And I had an immediate answer. Since my sabbatical this spring, I’ve been longing to write, and had created a Q3 goal in my Full Focus Planner to write ten pieces of intermediate content by September 30. It was almost the end of August and I had only written one.

“How are you going to use all of your newly available time, now that you can no longer do the things you used to do?” 

Later in the week I thought more about Ed’s question. What made it so helpful? Why was it so powerful?

  • It pointed to opportunity in adversity. In the midst of adversity, it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong or what’s missing. While I am a huge believer in lament — grieving over loss — I also firmly believe that God causes all things to work together for good, and in “making the most of every opportunity.
  • It was a reframing question. It would have been easy to succumb to a Limiting Belief –“My injury prevents me from doing things.” By reframing the question to focus on opportunity, Ed helped me recognize a Liberating Truth –“My injury creates time for things I would not have otherwise made time to do.” At a deeper level, it represented a growth mindset rather than a scarcity mindset.
  • It was future-oriented. During the first few days everyone was asking, “What happened!?” Sharing that story was important. So was reflecting on what happened in my Full Focus Journal. It was equally important to think about the future — what was going to happen and how I could approach that future positively. Good coaches help their clients take the lessons of the past, learn from them, and point them towards a better future.
  • It focused on my circle of influence. Author Stephen Covey describes two circles. The first, the Circle of Concern, contains all the things that we worry about. The second, the Circle of Influence, is smaller than the first and includes only the things that we can do something about. I have a lot of concerns: What will rehab look like? How long will it take? Will I make a full recovery or less than that? Will I able to do the things I love again? Right now there’s not much I can do about those questions. But I can do something with my newly available time during recovery.


I’m grateful for Ed’s question. I don’t know Ed well, but the fact that his question flowed so naturally in our conversation tells me he’s a great coach. He helped me focus on opportunity in the midst of adversity, reframed my thinking, helped me focus on the future and my circle of influence. I’m excited for the opportunity to write, and this brief post is the first of the fruits of Ed’s question.

Reflection Questions

  • Where do you see opportunity in the midst of your current adversity?
  • What Limiting Beliefs (often unconscious) might be holding you back? What Liberating Truths could you believe instead?
  • What have you learned from your current adversity? How do those insights help you face the future?