Understanding Values

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Understanding Values 

Values play a crucial role in coaching, because they are an attitude or behavior that is deemed important. Fundamentally they are at the core of our belief system and underpin every decision we make – consciously or unconsciously.


What is a value? 

French psychiatrist Jean Cottraux defines values as “solid beliefs that show that some goals in life are preferable to others.”

They can act as the essential rules on which we can build the guiding principles of our life. If our actions are not in harmony with our own personal values, it will create internal conflicts that are difficult to resolve. For this reason, understanding values can make it easier for us to make positive life choices, and it’s why overlooking the importance of values can result in us feeling dissatisfaction, demotivation and have possible issues with our identity if we are not sure who we are.


Selecting Values

This needs to be done based on honesty and openness. It is an essential step in order to make sure you are working from a solid base. When coaching values, it is important to stress to your client, that they should choose values with honesty, regardless of what anyone (including you) will think.


How to clarify values 

As a coach, you can help clarify values and help identify what (if anything) could get in the of them. It is important to make sure that any values specified will be geared towards achieving goals. If any values aren’t within reach or aren’t directly associated with some real meaning, it will be hard to materialize them and translate them into concrete actions.

One way of doing this is to determine whether a value is either an aspiration or a reality:

  • An aspirational value expresses who you hope to be and is deemed to have positive connotations or enhance your social standing
  • A real value is one that you can already express in life


We are our values 

Understanding values helps us identify the part of us that we call ‘me’. We recognize our values as things we are naturally drawn to or the things we are inclined to do, effortlessly and without setting any specific goals. Some people are natural explorers, so whether they’re aged six or sixty, they’re always embarking on intrepid journeys. It can be because exploring is clearly one of their core values.

People with this value don’t need to force themselves to explore because it comes naturally to them. Values can be a result of either nature or nurture, or a combination of the two. Either way, they have a predominant role in determining who we are, what we want and how we live.

When coaching, it can sometimes be helpful to confirm that values will naturally steer your client in the right direction. So if a project they work on (or life goal) isn’t in line with their key values, what can they do?

  • Make adjustments so they are back in tune with their values
  • Ask why they are working on it


Further reading:

If you would like to learn how to support your clients in understanding values so they can make positive life choices, check out our Coaching Values ebook in the online shop:

  • Coaching Values – A complete toolkit for coaching both personal and professional values, with a simple step by step guide to use in your coaching sessions to help clients identify their key values and agree clear goals.


We have published a full range of resources specifically aimed at supporting you as a professional coach:


We constantly add content to the site, so please check our on-line shop and look at the full range of games, ebooks and kits. Or read some of the other blog posts written by our team of international coaches.


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Image: Thanks to Kristina Lityvjak for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Please note – Our materials can only be copied and distributed, if you include a reference and link to the original source: (cc) MyCoachingToolkit.com – 2020

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