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Reflective essay on values module

Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Emma Tyer.
In this essay I will discuss the importance of understanding our client’s core values. Values are our guiding force in life, they give us direction and they provide us with a template for how we react to others and situations. We have individual values and group values. There are values such as love and compassion that are (or should be) universal. Bringing our values and what they are to conscious awareness is increasingly becoming a recognised tool to enable happiness, success, motivation and change.
In the past we lived by the values given us by our tribe, our community, and our religious beliefs. We lived as one being. As humanity has evolved towards individualism we have needed to establish who we are and in search of that knowledge we seek to understand our personal values.
When we start to understand what our values are, we meet the essence of our self, and we need to recognise that what are values to one person as an individual may not be values to their neighbours and fellow human beings. It is only by understanding what own our individual values are and which values we have inherited from parents, society and education, that we can unlock the door to a fulfilling and meaningful life.
In part three of Co- active coaching it says “Helping client’s discover and clarify their values is a way to create a map that will guide them along the decision path of their lives”. It goes on to say “Clients discover what’s truly essential to them in their lives. This helps them take a stand and make choices based on what is fulfilling to them”. We can have different values for different areas of our lives, our career, our home life, in our relationships. However at our centre lie our core values – these are the ones that govern all aspects of our lives. Not living in line with our core values causes us mental, emotional and physical distress. This may be only slight at first but over our life time becomes more uncomfortable to bear and manifests itself in various way. Sometimes human beings may have been living out of alignment with their personal values for so long that they know no difference and have no sense of who they are as can happen in very repressive societies.
Values can be defined in many different ways. Mahatma Ghandi said “Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.” 
Here he seems to be saying that our beliefs form the base of our thinking, those in turn through words, actions and habits become our values, which create our destiny. However in “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” Stephen Covey says that “Principles are not values” he says that “Values drive our behaviour and that principles are the consequence of behaviour” which appears to be quite different.
Values can be confused with morals and in many ways they are very similar. Our core values form the inner foundation that our morals are based upon. As I have stated before morals have their roots in our religious and cultural beliefs and they help us to understand what is “good and bad” based on those systems. Our values stem from our heart centre, they come from our inner sense of what is right or wrong for us and what it true for us as an individual. Our morals are given to us from outside belief systems, our values are governed by the individual and can change over time. Morals are rules to conduct ourselves by, values are qualities to live our lives by. The feeling that we have of being on the right path comes from honouring those values. In Co-Active coaching the author’s state “Values are not morals. There is no sense of morally right or wrong behaviour here…….Values are not principles either……..Values are the qualities of a life lived fully from the inside out”.
By understanding our values we can find inner and outer freedom and ultimately find fulfilment in life’s journey, in our family, in our career, in our relationship with money, and in understanding our life purpose.
So where do our values come from? Our moral life is formed by our societal and religious surroundings; if our values are the foundation that our morals stand on then where do our values stem from? In early childhood our values are created by our parents, and then later our teachers. As we grow and become more aware of and are influenced by the media and “celebrity culture”, our values are adjusted to fit our role models, our pop stars and sports heroes. This “celebrity culture” has replaced in many areas of society the religious and spiritual leaders whose guidance facilitated the development of our values in the past.
As we mature into adults we often ask “Who am I?” and part of that journey of discovery involves understanding what lies at our core, what supports us to be who we are, and so we begin to understand what our core values are. Which of our values belongs to us and which are inherited from our parents, teachers and society still holds true for us today? We ask ourselves “which values am I trying to live by that lead me to feeling constantly as though I am failing.” We question whether it is because the values are not true to us, they are not our core values but have been learned from outside sources that do not match the individuals that we are. We feel uncomfortable with life because the life we are living does not resonate with our real core values.
It is not only important that we discover our client’s core values but also that the client themselves discovers their core values because in doing so they can recognise what motivates their behaviour and why they can sometimes feel that they are not sitting comfortably in their life. If we as coaches do not make ourselves aware of our client’s values both through truly listening to what our client reveals to us and through a more formal “values elicitation” we cannot gain a true insight into who our client is and what lies at their heart. Nor can we understand the foundations on which they wish to build the vision of their life, their dreams. It is only by the client understanding their core values that they are able to identify their vision and in turn set realistic, compatible and achievable goals.
Understanding our client’s core values is essential to the coaching relationship. As individuals we can often have similar values to our friends and family, it is those similarities that attract us to each other but in our coaching relationship we may have different values from our client, and need to be able to honour that client’s values in order to build the necessary rapport for a healthy coach/ client relationship.
One method of ascertaining the client’s values is by doing a “values elicitation”. This is a powerful exercise that allows the client to identify what is really important to them. This exercise works best when as the coach we draw the client’s values from their life experience rather than from a list of other people’s values. Often a client will need to express their values in a sentence rather than as one word and it is our role as coach to help them to clarify their core values. A client who lists “family” as a value may have core values of love, security or a sense of belonging. Understanding our client’s values helps us to identify why certain difficulties may be arising in their lives. A client who has security among their core values may be experiencing their new role as being self-employed as challenging and by identifying their core value of security they can find methods to support themselves that provide the security they need.
As ever in coaching it is by listening to what our client is saying and by asking the right questions that we can help them to uncover their core values. Values can be expressed in a single word or a short phrase, our values are the way we measure what is important to us, our visions grow from those values and our goals are set to achieve those visions. If our goals are at odds with our core values or our goals have been set by others we will not have the inner motivation required to achieve them. Helping our clients to understand this will motivate them to move forward in their lives, and to find fulfilment.
In conclusion, by understanding our client’s core values, we meet the essence of who our client is. Knowing who our client is will enable us as coaches to ask questions that facilitate the client on their life’s journey, empowering them to live their lives according to their core values and therefore finding inner contentment with the choices they make and the life they create.
“Co-Active Coaching” by Henry Kimsey-House, Laura Kimsey-House, Philip Sandahl and Laure Whitworth
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
Ghandi quotes
Unconditional Success – Nick Williams
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