One of your fundamental responsibilities as a coach is to shift the way your clients think.
Our life is what our thoughts make it.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
In order to shift their thinking, you need to really understand the experiences that have shaped them into the person they are today.
This is where understanding your client’s values and beliefs becomes your single most important exploration.
Amateur coaches create change. Master coaches transform.
When you help your clients understand their underlying values, and shift their beliefs, you make the invisible visible for them. You ensure that they can never go back to becoming the person they were before they started working with you.
And this is the hallmark of real transformation.
Before you can reframe your client’s values and beliefs, you need to understand how they are formed.
How Are Values And Beliefs Formed?
Understanding the human brain is fundamental to understanding your client’s thinking, behaviour, and decisions.
The brain changes continuously through the experiences we have. And our state of mind in a situation is a direct function of our life experiences. Everytime we experience something new, there are physical changes taking place in the brain – we either form new neural connections or generate new neurons.
In the same way no two people have the same upbringing, nutrition, education, culture, and environment, no two people have the same beliefs, habits, values, and character.
Knowing this as a coach helps you understand why no two clients of yours will be the same, and why understanding their life experiences is critical.
It’s not just what happens to your client during an experience, but what they think happens.
We interpret our experiences and make choices that make us feel better. We perceive the world in a way that helps us survive in a certain situation.
If our brain recognizes that a certain perception of the world helps us interact with our environment and survive, it will continue to choose that over others. And every time our brain chooses that perception, the underlying neural pathway and connections grow stronger, thus strengthening it.
In this way, we continuously analyze what worked in the past as a way to predict what might work in the present or in the future. It’s this pattern of actions and consequences that forms our beliefs and guides our decisions.
What Is A Belief?
A belief is something that your client accepts as truth without enough proof or evidence. It is what your client thinks they ought to be.
Their beliefs shape how they act, feel, and make meaning of the world around them.
The human brain is a “meaning-making machine” that is constantly forming new beliefs.
You make your beliefs and then your beliefs make you!
We consciously or unconsciously adopt most of our beliefs in our childhood, from our parents, friends, family, and culture. Since most of them are formed during our formative years, we hardly understand them. And we spend most of our lives trying to find experiences that validate these beliefs.
Your primary job as a coach is to dig deeper – to help your client understand how their behaviour stems from a deep rooted belief they hold about something.
Beliefs Can Help Your Clients Or Hurt Them
Although beliefs are designed to keep us safe, not all drive us towards success.
Beliefs are primarily of two kinds:
Limiting Beliefs – These beliefs hold your clients back from expressing themselves fully.
For example: As a kid, your client saw his parents struggling with money. They both worked for many hours a day with no results. As a grown up, he might form a belief that no matter how hard he works, he will always struggle with money.
Another limiting belief that often holds people back is that I’m not good enough.
Empowering Beliefs – These beliefs help your clients live to their fullest potential.
For example: Your client’s father might have been very authoritative, raising his voice every time she tried to contribute with an opinion. She formed a belief that “opinions matter” – and so as an entrepreneur she would always allow her employees to express their opinion candidly without holding back.
Helping your clients identify their limiting beliefs and replacing them with more empowering beliefs, is one of the most powerful things you can do as a coach.
Remember, beliefs are not factual truths. It is your client’s version of a truth based on an experience they’ve had.
3-Step Process To Embed A New Belief (IRE)
1. I – Identify where the belief was born
Awareness is often the first step to change. When you help your clients identify a certain pattern of thinking that is holding them back, you create awareness in their mind. When you challenge their belief, you show them a new possibility. When you further explore where this pattern of thinking was originally born – from their parents, their environment or a childhood experience, etc, you deepen their awareness.
2. R – Reframe the belief to make the unfamiliar, familiar
Once you have created awareness, your next goal is to reframe your clients’ limiting belief to an empowering one. Now, our brain likes security and things that are familiar. Which is why your clients will procrastinate to break out of their current belief. This is where you can support them to break out of their comfort zone by making their challenges familiar – through powerful self affirmations, shifting their environment, or through repetitive action.
3. E – Embed the new belief
In order to ensure your client does not go back to their old ways, you need to embed their new learning. This is where you help them visualize their new reality and then help them create a system that will enable them to act in alignment with their new belief consistently.
By simply following this three-step process, you are fundamentally altering how your clients view and live their life.
What Are Values?
While beliefs are what your clients think they ought to be, values are what they wish to be.
Values are what your clients hold dear to them. They are intrinsically important to them which is why they guide both their judgement and decisions.
Similar to beliefs, values are formed at an early age based on personal experiences, observing people and situations around, and other environmental influences.
Making decisions guided by their values brings balance, joy and peace to your clients, and helps them live a life that is fully congruent with who they are.
Know Your Client’s Personal Values
As a coach, when you help your clients identify their values, you give them a roadmap to a more meaningful life.
Values are broadly classified into three sub types:
1. Personal Values – that define who your client is, what they want, and why they think the way they do.
2. Social Values – this governs their social connections and interpersonal bond with others.
3. Universal Values – this influences their spiritual thought, cultural standards, and overall acceptance of life experiences.
The Personal Values Assessment (PVA) is a crisp and straightforward measure of determining your client’s core values and personal belief system.
6 Questions To Ask Your Clients To Uncover Their Values
1. Which qualities have contributed the most to your success?
2. How would you like to be remembered when you leave a room?
3. What part of your job do you love the most?
4. What is the most rewarding feeling you give to others?
5. What qualities are you most proud of?
6. What do others say you are good at?
Most people you coach will often struggle with making important decisions in their life. By discovering their values, you will help them live a life not based on what it ‘should’ be but based on what they truly desire.
How To Coach Using Values And Beliefs
Always coach to discover values and reframe beliefs.
Every coaching conversation is really an opportunity for you to remind your client about what’s truly important to them (their values), and what’s getting in their way (their limiting beliefs).
So in your next coaching conversation when your client presents you with a problem, instead of jumping right in to treat the symptom, dig deeper.
“Why is solving this problem so important for you right now? Why does it matter so much to you?”
This will help you draw out their underlying values.
Then ask them,
“So, what’s really getting in your way? What’s blocking you from getting what you truly desire?”
This will help you draw out their underlying belief.
This is where powerful coaching really begins.
Coaching to explore values and beliefs is one of the most powerful ways to drive long-lasting transformation, not just temporary change.