A Coaching Power Tool created by Craig Morton
(Personal Change and Development Coach, CANADA)
The desire to do something is strong in all of us. We have our secret fantasies, daydreams and people we hold up in high regard because what they do in life is something we aspire to do as well. However, taking those desires and thoughts and implementing them into tangible actions iis often a challenging task and sadly left unfulfilled. Why?
A look at our core values
As we grow up, we are shaped by our environment; society, schools, and home life. These environments impose external values upon that serve when we are young. However, as we get older and develop our own personalities, what we truly believe about life may be different from what we were told life should be like; our true core values do not match the external core values we were given as a child.
When difficulty arises in life and we are frozen with inaction or current action becomes increasingly difficult, it is because our true core values are not in alignment with our actions. The role of the coach is to help the client fully explore their core values and examine areas in their life that are not in agreement.
A common scenario is to have an idea, get excited about it, but then as time or reality sets in, the idea fades away without being acted upon. That flame of an idea burns brightly for that short amount of time and then dies; sometimes slowly and more often than not, very quickly. What is it that keeps us from acting upon our ideas? What limits us from bringing our true core values out into the world?
There are many, many factors of why people do not act as there are people, however there are some very common themes that restrict our actions when it comes to acting from a place of our true core values rather than what we were given.
Reasons for Inaction
The reason for fear is varied. It can be fear of listening to our true selves, being different, what others will say, fear of failure, and/or the emotional component of exploring our values and beliefs.
Having our core values handed to us and not questioning them (even though we are not happy with them) is a defined path and with that comes some comfort (to use the expression of the “devil we know vs. the devil we don’t”).
Exploring our true core values, and venturing out on another course of action puts us out there on new uncertain ground (Fields, 2011)
- Limiting personal habits
Despite wanting to implement our true core values, our life may not be structured to facilitate that happening. Time management, monetary priorities, addictions, poor self concepts and/or an overly negative outlook of the future are all activities and behaviors that not only take up time and energy, but also create an environment that does not nurture growth.
- Gremlins (or Sabateurs)
These are the voices in our heads that tell us what we are thinking is crazy, a waste of time, doomed to fail and we should give up now before it’s too late (Carson, 2003)
These factors, either alone or in concert, can keep us stuck and frozen with the inability to act. Furthermore, left unchecked they do not only promote a lack of progress, but also start to move us backwards stripping us of self confidence and our authentic selves.
Moving from the realm of inaction to action is a process that requires critical steps along the way to ensure a lasting and meaningful change. Jumping from the starting point to the end point can not only can be sustained for very short periods of time, but is also setting one up for failure. The work of going through the process is where the learning occurs, and the end point is simply a validation of the hard work that led the client to get there.
Preparing for Action
- Examining core values.
This is the first step in analyzing the state of inaction. The inaction may perhaps be over a certain issue and then the exploration may simply focus on their core values around that issue (for example, “why am I not exercising despite wanting to?” or “I know I need to drink less but I don’t want to quit”).
Conversely, the inaction may be widespread in many areas of the client’s life and there is a general feeling of simply being stuck. This may require a more wide scale look at the core values and an exploration into what the client was told to believe about life and what they truly do believe.
- What is currently going on
After the core values are defined, the coach and client then look for evidence of their core values in their current lives. In some cases, there may be a lot of evidence and therefore alignment between certain core value and actions (i.e. wanting to be the best parent that they can be and seeing evidence of themselves working hard in that area) However, with some core values, there may be little or no evidence between those core value and actions in their lives (returning to the initial questions above of “I want to exercise more but I am not currently” or “I need to cut down on drinking, yet find myself intoxicated every night watching TV.”
This allows the client to become aware of what core values are present and which ones are not. Once this awareness is made, it is possible to then help the client choose the behaviors that support their core values and let go of those areas that no longer represent their desires for their lives.