In personal coaching, we pay particular attention to our clients’ values and beliefs because they guide our clients’ actions, which are based on their decisions, both conscious and subconscious. Values are the principles and standards by which people live their lives, or the moral principles and accepted standards of a person or group. We all live by our values, but we don’t necessarily acknowledge them consciously and we also don’t necessarily know what our driving (or core) values are. Our core values are those for which we take action, such as health, happiness or honesty, but we also refer to idealistic values without realising it. These are values with which we identify because we believe we’d like them to prevail in our lives but we don’t take positive action towards realising them, such as freedom or fun, for example.
At Mercury, we never presume to know what a client means when he or she states a value because we all place our own meanings on values. One person’s happiness is another’s frustration or unhappiness. Effective coaching depends on understanding people’s core values and differentiating them from idealistic values, according to the individual’s perception of the values.
The reason this is all so important is because people often set themselves goals that aren’t aligned with their core values, but are more aligned with their idealistic values. This means they strive to achieve goals that move them towards a state in which they think they ought to be, but that isn’t truly where their underlying core values guide them. For example, a recent coaching session brought to light that a client really wanted fun in her work, although her perception of her values led her to believe that security was more important. She’s been in the same job for twenty years and was convinced that job security was her guiding value for her work. Coaching brought out the fact that she values variety and fun at work, which she’d been seeking in various ways in the same job but that she never acknowledged as a core value. Security was an ideal but it didn’t address what really mattered to her at a deeper level, which meant she experienced constant tension between what she really valued and what she thought she valued. The goals that she set herself for achieving security were never geared towards achieving fun and variety. The result was that she was fed up with her job and wanted to leave.
Driving values are programmed into our minds at a very young age, as a result of childhood experiences. They’re exceptionally hard to change because they become rooted in our psyche as the ‘way it is’. People can state that success is a value but they might not take much action towards achieving it because they’re afraid of not succeeding. In this case, the fear of failure or rejection, and the drive to avoid experiencing these, is stronger than the drive towards attempting to achieve success. This is an example of tension, in which values are in conflict. Tension like this can be a strong factor for people not achieving what matters to them. Coaching is a way of addressing this.
We place a lot of value on values but we might not value the end result! Getting to the bottom of what really matters to us is crucial if we are to achieve our goals and make sure that those goals are aligned with our driving values in the first place.
For help with your goals and to discuss whether coaching might be appropriate for your specific circumstances, contact us for a free consultation.