Its summer and barbeque time! While I was at a barbeque celebrating my niece’s one and a half birthday, I found myself deep in conversation with another guest, Karen, about our respective professions. It turned out she is a psychologist with a healthy scepticism for coaches, due to the ever expanding number of people setting themselves up as coaches without any training in the profession at all. Yet, she was pleasantly surprised by my approach to coaching which she said resonated strongly with her.
Many clients who come to me for coaching don’t have a very specific issue to address but rather broader questions around building confidence, developing leadership and managing their career. I encourage them to spend time working in our early sessions, and to reflect between sessions, on their values, beliefs and purpose. They find this approach pays dividends in achieving their more intangible goals like knowing what they want to do and being more confident. Why? I feel a sense of purpose and knowing your values and beliefs brings
- personal meaning;
- a sense of being;
- knowing who you are and what is important to you and what you stand for;
- a sense of harmony, peace and well being when you are living in alignment with your core values;
- a feeling of direction and energy;
- being true to yourself;
- respecting yourself; and
- self belief, self confidence and self esteem, which is honest and not misplaced or falsely built up; based on evidence you can prove to yourself, recognising your own achievements and contributions without claiming those of others.
Having a sense of purpose can make a real difference to the way we feel about ourselves and how we live our lives. Karen reminded me of Frankl, an Austrian psychologist who survived the holocaust and helped other inmates in concentration camps during the first world war. He noticed that survivors of these terrible places were those people who felt a sense of purpose. For some it was love for children or a wife that gave them a meaning to cling to, or a talent to be used, or perhaps lingering memories they felt worth preserving. The people who felt they had nothing to live for died quickest. The people who felt a sense of purpose found meaning even in these most miserable conditions and survived.
Most of us now are fortunate – we live in incredibly good conditions in comparison, yet still we feel stress or a lack of direction or confidence. Taking time to discover our sense of purpose can help us release our full potential, turn our dreams into reality and be who we want to be.
Next time – where do our beliefs and values come from and what can we do about them!