A Coaching Power Tool created by Michael Adams
(Transition Coach, UNITED STATES)
Which weighs more: a kilogram of gold or a kilogram of feathers? The obvious answer is that they weigh the same (one kilogram). There are more individual feathers than pieces of gold, but the fact still remains that you have a kilogram of each.
Which is worth more: a kilogram of gold or a kilogram of feathers? The answer to this depends on what you value. Monetarily, gold is worth more in every market. But if you were visiting the South Pole and had the choice between a coat lined with gold and a coat lined with feathers, you’d likely value the feathers more.
In many of these power tools there seems to be a natural dichotomy that one of the two words in the title is good and the other is less desirable. In the case of quantity vs. quality, each carries about the same weight (like in the opening example). The value of one or the other will come from the core values within each individual. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, quantity is, “an indefinite amount or number”. Quality is defined as “a degree of excellence: grade”. Both definitions have a neutral feeling to them. The value of each comes when we apply them in our own lives.
In life we all have goals. Some have a large array of goals that aren’t necessarily connected in any way. Others have few goals, but those goals are very meaningful to those individuals. The power to accomplish goals comes when those goals are in alignment with core values.
For example, one who would value a large quantity of goals over a few quality goals is likely to be someone who has core values of adventure, experience, work/activity, learning, etc. These types thrive on things like variety, newness, and accumulation of memories. To focus in just one area of their life would be out of harmony with their core values. This focus would drain them of energy rather than energizing them.
An example of someone who would value fewer goals, but ones of higher quality would be those who highly value meaningful relationships, control of life, discipline, or purpose. Their goals typically don’t upset the relationships or routines they already have in place unless certain relationships/routines are unhealthy. Rather, their goals improve the relationships/routines they already have established. To give someone like this several goals to work on at once, or to be sporadic with the goals being set, would overwhelm an individual like this.
So what type of individual are you? Chances are that you are a combination of both. Within all of us, we will have some values that pull us to have a multiplicity of goals, and other values that will pull us toward setting fewer goals with more meaning behind them. Different circumstances in life will give more weight to one value (or set of values). As those circumstances change, that weight will likely shift to another value (or set of values). Becoming aware of what is important to us in the here and now will help us to know which values we should focus the most energy on to reach our maximum potential.
Values Discovery Assessment
There are a variety of “values discovery assessments” out there. The majority of assessments have the common practice of asking awareness questions like the following:
- Think of a peak experience in life. What stands out? What made it a peak experience?
- Describe someone you admire. What do you admire about that person?
- What makes you angry? What values are being violated to make you angry?
- At the end of life, what do you hope people will say about you?
- What is a big deal to you?
- What has been a set-back to you?
These and other questions like them get an individual thinking about specific qualities that energize and motivate them. You will likely find a common thread linking each of these questions together. The threads you find will likely be core values.
Once you have figured out whether you would thrive more from a wide variety of goals or only a select few quality goals, avoid the temptation to bring your style of goal setting to the coaching table. As with any aspect of coaching, the client has to own the process of setting goals. Though the coach may be great at letting the client drive the conversation, some coaches will try to get the client to set goals in the same style that the coach sets goals.
A values discovery assessment will be useful when helping your client discover whether they would benefit more from a wide variety of goals or only a small number of them. As you uncover that common thread of values within your clients, it is best to present you findings as your reflection on what you observed and ask them if what you said feels right to them. Allow them to interpret the findings anyway they want. Once the client is acquainted with his/her values, you can move forward with what they want to accomplish and how they want to accomplish it.
Quantity and Quality often go hand-in-hand. It is good to set goals, but it is even more important to accomplish those goals. If a client sets one large quality goal, there will often need to be a series of smaller goals. A kilogram of gold is often earned one coin at a time. The patient accumulation of the individual gold coins will eventually add up to a kilogram, so the worth of the individual coins should not be discredited, but rather celebrated. If the client is more into setting several goals that may not seem to you to be connected or of much worth (feathers) then help them to see that each goal accomplished can add warmth to their coat.
- What core values do you find when you ask yourself the questions in the “Values Discovery Assessment” section?
- Whether your client is collecting feathers or gold, what can you do you help them see the worth of the goals they accomplish?
- What is the value of goals you have accomplished?