Coaches are third.  And, third is natural for coaches who work from the values of Judeo-Christian faith.

Coaches provide third places
After our homes and workplaces, humans need a “third place,” an “I-belong- here” community.   In Applebee’s America (Simon & Schuster, 2006), the authors describe how Applebee’s restaurants try to position themselves as America’s comfortable “third place.” Applebee’s noble goal is to be America’s home away from home and work.

Coaches provide that treasured third place for clients.  In coaching relationships, a secure oasis for exploring life’s questions is basic.  In safe places, masks can be dropped and heart struggles can be laid on the altar.  Coaches and clients create protected spaces, “third places,” those sacred confessionals that can be catalysts for life’s next steps.

Coaches point toward third opinions
Most of us solve our problems predictably.  We weave together our own clearest ideas with “second opinions” from family and friends.  Enough?  Not always.  Not if we can’t get clear enough about our personal perspectives.  Not when others, especially staffers, fail to give us reliable enough information.  Then, coaches join us during those excruciatingly lonely searches.

Frequently, we’re mostly blind to gaps in our information, thinking, and experience.  That’s when we reach out for The Third Opinion (Portfolio, 2004), those relationships and resources needed for subtle and complex decisions.  Coach’s questions help navigate uncharted shoals with objective insight, thought partnerships, and truth in a world of “spin.”

Coaches relate from third circles
Picture your concentric relational circles.  Your inner circle likely contains your family, best friends, and closest spiritual advisors.  Your second circle is usually populated by current work colleagues and friends from earlier times. Coaches are appropriately among the folks in your third circle.  Coaches relate “from the edge,” that more objective emotional distance the third circle allows.  Third-circle coaches have three advantages—being less encumbered with yesterday’s history, today’s messiness, and tomorrow’s expectations.  Coaches can step in and out of client’s third circles as needed and invited.

Win, Place, Show
Western society stresses finishing first at all costs.  But, Judeo-Christian coaches show up, show a focus on futures, and then show ourselves the door.  We’re third.  As partners who help “fast forward” client’s life and faith, third is just right.