When coaching values with a client, remember that they are deeply held, enduring beliefs that define what is most valuable or important to us in life. Below are a few characteristics defining what values are and aren’t.
Passionate. They are what you care most about and are why you do what you do.
Unique. Since they come from your heart, they’re in your words, not those of others.
Assumed. They are beliefs that are so much a part of us that we forget that they are there.
Lived. If you truly value something, your behavior demonstrates it.
Lasting. They don’t change easily—they’re things you’ve cared about for a long time.
Values Are NOT:
Goals. They are about reaching a future objective. They are what you hold dear now.
Aspirations. It’s something you already live, not what you aspire to.
Principles. Values are not cause and effect statements of how life works, like “You reap what you sow”
Doctrinal Statements. “I believe the bible is the inerrant word of God” is a doctrinal statement, not a value.
Visions. They are rooted in the now; visions are pictures of an ideal future.
One way of coaching values is to give your client a list of words they can look at and choose from according to which ones resonate the most with them. Then have them group those words into ones that seemingly go together. Ultimately you want them to cull their list down to the five to seven themes or groups of words that are the “best of the best” in describing what they are passionate about.
Tony Stoltzfus is a best-selling author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. Additional information on this topic can be found in Tony’s book, The Christian Life Coaching Handbook.