As a psychology major at Oklahoma State University, Julie Bell was fascinated by the complexities of the human brain, but not by the prospect of listening to people's problems. When she discovered the field of sports psychology, she'd found her niche and went on to earn a master's and then a Ph.D. in the subject at the University of Virginia. Today, she helps not just athletes but also business professionals and church leaders.

"That coaching voice in your head sets you up to do your best, and other times it will undermine you and burn you out," says Bell, founder of the Mind of a Champion, a coaching firm based in Dallas. "Some people have a strong coaching voice that sets them up well. Others need help."

Bell, who spoke at the 2010 National Association of Church Business Administration conference, says church leaders often struggle with their coaching voices, but that her firm's Performance Intelligence teaching can help. Bell's clients include church teams, pro fisherman Dion Hibdon, State Farm, and the vice presidents of several Fortune 500 companies.

Question & Answer

A "coaching voice"? Sounds like pop psychology.

It's based in Scripture. You have to be intentional with your thinking. Paul talks about taking every thought captive to Christ. If we let our minds wander to whatever we want, we are in the world and suffering the consequences of sin.

What's Performance Intelligence?

It's your ability to perform your best when it matters most. A lot of people can do their best when the circumstances are right. How do you use the talents and resources that God has given you to do your best, regardless of the circumstances?

How would this benefit a church worker?

A lot of great programs come in to maximize your skills, such as a communications workshop or conflict resolution or time management. Mind management is our greatest inefficiency. My list of things to do doesn't wear me out—my thinking about my list of things to do wears me out.

You talk about "maximizing" and "doing your best" with our talents, while Scripture says to be "steadfast" and "faithful" in all things. What's the difference?

All of our life is an act of worship, and in all areas we can glorify God. Colossians 3:23 tells us whatever we do, work at it heartily for the Lord, not for men. That verse makes me want to be intentional in my life, whether I am making a presentation, teaching my kids to ride a bike, or having dinner with my husband. In order to put my best out there, I have to make my thoughts obedient to Christ, to "maximize" every occasion for Christ.

What's next for you?

I'm working on a new book that will take the basic concept of Performance Intelligence at Work: The 5 Essentials to Achieving the Mind of a Champion (McGraw-Hill, 2009), but will use more biblical examples and references.


Hometown: Muskogee, Oklahoma

Age: 44

Family: L. Nelson Bell II (husband); Mary McCue, 8, Myers Anne, 7, L. Nelson III, 6 (children)

Church: Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Dallas

Reading now: Grace-Based Parenting; The Bible in 90 Days

On your iPod: Mormon Tabernacle Choir; Hootie and the Blowfish; Josh Groban

Your hero: Ruth Bell Graham

Favorite movie: Chariots of Fire

Related Elsewhere:

Mind of a Champion has more information about its purpose at its website.

Previous "Who's Next" sections featured DeVon Franklin, Shannon Sedgwick Davis, Jon Tyson,Jonathan Golden,Paul Louis Metzger,Amena Brown,David Cunningham,Timothy Dalrymple,John Sowers,Alissa Wilkinson,Jamie Tworkowski,Bryan Jennings,L. L. Barkat,Robert Gelinas, Nicole Baker Fulgham,Gideon Strauss,W. David O. Taylor,Crystal Renaud,Eve Nunez,Adam Taylor,Matthew Lee Anderson,Margaret Feinberg, andJonathan Merritt.

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