Even before entering the field of Life and Career Coaching twelve years ago, I collected self-help books that promise a fresh approach to life balance, fulfillment and success. I cannot judge any of these books fairly, as I’ve never actually finished one. Maybe, had I gotten to the last chapter, I would have found the answers to my on-going search for clarity, harmony and satisfaction. To think, if only I made it past chapter 5, I could be married to the perfect man, own homes in NY, LA and Tuscany and actually weigh what it says I weigh on my driver’s license. But these things have not yet come to pass. Yet, one area of growth I have experienced is to stop blindly making choices based on what I think my family, friends and society expect me to do. Now, at least most of the time, I consciously make decisions based on my own values.
In the first of my three blog posts I addressed the importance of values. I stated that in my experience as a coach, and a client, “I have found, that if people are unsatisfied in their personal and professional lives it is because they are not honoring their true values. In fact, many people expend a lot of energy to fulfill perceived values that have been established for them by society, employers, family, peers and even themselves. This can lead to the unconscious reinforcement of expectations and patterns that offer familiarity and a sense of security. For some of us, this stability is a significant value. But we must make sure we don’t become trapped in this ‘comfort zone’ which can limit expression, creativity and growth.”
Did you consciously make the decision to go to college because you value education or because it was just the thing to do? Are you involved in a religious community because it is a way to nurture your spirit or because you think you should? Are you at your job because you happened to fall into it or because you care passionately about the work? On occasion, we all have to do things that are not the ideal way we’d like to spend our time and energy, but as a whole, what are the guiding principles in your life and the choices you make? To whose values are you being held accountable?
In order to honor one’s values, one must first identify and understand those values. In that first post I provided a list of 39 values to prioritize.* In the following entries, we will be taking them one at a time. Using the alphabet as my guide, I’ve selected 26 values from Accountability to Zeal. The goal is to focus on one value at a time with the hope of discovering things about yourself that you most likely already know. That’s right, I’m not promising any new information, quick fixes or guaranteed strategies. I am however offering you a chance to define values, explore perspectives and contemplate questions. These questions are intended to help you discover (or re-discover) things about yourself, your relationship with the world, your past perceptions and your future actions. But the questions themselves are not what is important. Do not worry if you cannot figure out exactly what they mean or what is expected of you. Follow them wherever they take you. In fact, the answers are not all that important either. It is the process of asking and answering the questions that will bring about a renewed sense of focus and clarity.
Lessons to live a good life can be found everywhere. Some people find them in the words of the Bible and others in the words of Oprah. Whatever the source material, whether it is a Lifetime Movie or a Life Coach, we need to make sure that the answers we find are right for us.
Our resource for this journey will be the Coach’s Alphabet© which I created as a tool for my clients. Each letter/value will come with a definition, quote and questions. Whether you work alone or play with a friend, have fun observing how these values show up in your life and how you show up in the world.
The first value is that of ACCOUNTABILITY, which I think is one of the most important values to embrace when one is seeking to increase productivity and satisfaction. When I was an outplacement consultant working with people who had recently been laid-off and were looking for new employment, I noticed a common trait my clients sought in the workplace. They craved feedback. Not only did they desire compliments and acknowledgment for what they did well, but suggestions and direction regarding the areas in which they were falling behind. They wanted to be held accountable for their strengths AND their weaknesses and thus they welcomed constructive criticism. They wanted to know that their bosses were invested in their growth and development. The problem is, many of us do not know how to effectively give or receive constructive feedback. We don’t know what we don’t know until we learn it, and often that lesson comes in the form of failure. If you’re lucky, the people in your life (including yourself), can use the experience of failure as a teachable moment and not an opportunity to judge and belittle.
At the start of the coaching relationship the coach works with the client to co-actively “design the alliance.” They discuss the expectations and nature of the relationship. Permission is granted by both sides to regularly offer honest feedback and hold each other accountable for showing up in a way that best serves the relationship. Imagine if we created such a deliberate and intentional collaboration with our colleagues.
I have no way of holding you accountable for answering the questions that will be posted in this blog unless you ask. So feel free to email me at Stacey@theCoach4you.com if you’d like to send me your responses to the questions posed. If I don’t hear from you within a few days of the posting, I’ll happily send you an email nudge.
Stacey (aka: theCoach4you)
A is for ACCOUNTABILITY – Being responsible for one’s actions. Being obliged and enforced to report, explain or justify something.
“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re GOING to do.” ~ Henry Ford
- To whom or what are you accountable?
- In what area of your life does accountability show up most? Where does it show up least?
- What is your relationship with accountability?
- How has accountability served you? How can it serve you more?
- Select a “to do” item in your life or a change you want to make. What would happen if you had a structure of accountability around that goal?
*The original article and list of values is available at: theCoach4you.com.wordpress.com under the title, ABC’s of Career Coaching – A is for Attitude.