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Extracts of a Life Coach: Reconciling tensions

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This week, fledgling life coach, Emma Ranson Bellamy examines opposing value systems and reveals her secrets of saving clients from making the same mistakes over and over again.


OK I’m bringing out the big guns today. So far we have looked at the coaching conversation and the way it is structured to maximise time and impact.

It is true that pretty much anything is coachable as long as specialist clinical help is not required. It’s great to coach clients on specific problems that they currently face from planning a schedule to coming up with a plan for an aggressive member of staff.

However, sooner or later you are going to come up against a value, personally I like to get these out in the open as soon as possible. For many individuals it is the first time they have really looked at what they hold dear, what line cannot be crossed and why.

Because so few people are aware of their own set of values they continue to make the same mistakes time and time again, fall in love with the wrong people or make the wrong career choices, for example. There are many definitions of the word but I personally like the term personal rules. If everyone adhered to their set of personal rules, would the anguish of a love split exist or the disappointment of hitting a glass ceiling on career aspirations when realisations are not met? How are all these things connected to your values?

Imagine that nurturing is your key value in life. What words and feelings does that word conjure up? It’s not just children but people, your family, your work colleagues, your business, your home. You feel not just protective about these things you feel real love, commitment and a longing to feed them and nourish them into the best that they can possibly be.

You will not allow anyone to interfere with their potential and you are probably willing to make personal sacrifices to ensure their success. If an individual were to try and take any of these things away from you or criticise them in any way, your primeval instincts of flight or fight will take over, you can’t help it, it’s the very foundation of your make up.

Knowing this about your self and also about the values others you share your life and work with will make tensions easier to spot..

Well that’s simple then, think of eight that sum up how you feel, put them in order of importance and create a set of rules to live by that will in turn build the foundations of living a value based life.

It sounds too easy, and it is. People usually want it all which often leads to holding two opposing ideals, for example freedom and security, fun and sobriety, career and family.

So how can these opposing goals ever be reconciled and is it important to do so? What will happen if we fail?

A coach has a couple of ways to help their coachee reconcile their opposing desires. The method is by looking at both values with the same question. By examining the dual desires, the coachee will finally settle on the one that is of the most important to them. Or how to make the two opposing values work with each other.

Lets take freedom and security. An individual may hold the idea of family life in high esteem, they may surround themselves with pictures of their children while at the same time fighting with their partner about their failure to make plans and communicate about comings and goings. The circular enquiry question a coach could ask is: “How can you have freedom in security?” and “How can you have security in freedom?” I wonder how many relationships would be saved if these questions were asked.

So what importance do values serve in the workplace? Each company has a set of core company values. Often they are buried within the company handbook, intranet or policy documents. I wonder how many staff are actually able to quickly, identify what they are?

But these are the rules that we live by and unless you have individuals who are breaking those rules, these values in some shape or form will be shared by the mass of employees. And what of those individuals who are breaking the rules? What are their values? Are they in line? And what will happen if they remain unchecked?

If we have a set of eight core values they will run seamlessly into our work and personal life. If we are nurturing at home it is safe to say we will be nurturing at work, if we hold freedom as a high value we will also hold it as a high standard in our work.

During my studies I have become aware of my own set of core values and this has given me many retrospective light bulb moments as I realise how my own values were at tension with those around me and why some of those projects and relationships fell by the way side. However knowledge is power and now I know what my rules are I have a guide to living my value based life, making it a lot easier.

Emma can be contacted at [email protected]

Other articles in this series:

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Annie Hayes

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