Have you experienced the following?

You have a project in mind.
You have a vision of how it will end.
You start it with great gusto.
You even make good progress on those early steps.


You take a step back and looking at what you’ve done, discouragement sets in.
What you see looks nothing like what you’ve envisioned.
What do you do now? Do you quit? Continue?

I’ve done both.

I remember once working on a project that was to be a gift for my mom. I thought I messed up. Started over and when I got to the same place, it was messed up again! I never finished that project! But if I better understood “the awkward stage” I think I would reacted differently.

I learned the concept from a beginner’s landscape painting book by Lee Hammond. She teaches that a painting can have three stages.

The first is laying the foundation. The last is the final touches.
The middle is that awkward stage when it looks kind-of but not exactly right. It’s an important stage of building upon the foundation, adding depth and taking care of details. It is also when beginning artists (like me) can get frustrated and give up.

Wow. This concept is pertinent to so much more that painting. It can apply to anything: an art or craft project; home improvement project; something we tackle to better ourselves; or it could be a work project.

Here’s something else I’ve learned. Even when you struggle to see what’s next in your own awkward stage, you already know what is needed. You might just need some help accessing what your mind holds.

For instance, when I go to a paint class and get frustrated at that awkward stage, my teacher has two choices. She can fix it for me (which teaches me nothing) or she can help me to see what my next steps should be. In this sense she is coaching me through the steps, and I learn.

Most of us don’t have an art teacher helping us along the way. And, well, as good as she is, she might not be able to help me figure out the next steps in my most recent ministry project. But a coach can help, not by telling you what to do, but by asking you questions that will help you to see your own next steps, no matter which phase of your project you are tackling.

Want to try it? Contact me for a free 30 minute coaching conversation.

This is one of my favorite paintings. I don’t have any photos of the stages, but I remember the help along the way while painting it.