Saturday, 31 January 2015

Values that are too big for their boots

Yesterday I demonstrated how you can determine what the values that are motivating your actions are in any given context.

The premise being if you can understand your motivators you might be able to work out why you're not taking the necessary action to achieve a specific goal (this week's theme for my blogs).

The challenge with values is they're powerful things, and just knowing that a certain value is hindering you isn't in itself always enough to stop it.

Let's continue with my list from yesterday:

Freedom, truth, empowerment, laughter, connection, contribution, achievement

Mechanisms for finding motivation for a goal or life in general include:

Exploring one value you think might be out of balance
I remember having a huge insight the first time I did this about why my value of Freedom was holding me back.

It was as if at any point in time I had 360 degrees of freedom and making a choice would reduce that to 1 degree - so why would I make any decisions.

Once I realised this, whilst walking it out in a local park, I realised that I could change my representation so that with every decision I had a whole new 360 degrees worth of freedom :-).

Therefore ensuring my value was met and decisions could be made.

It's simply a case of exploring the meaning of a value - what does having it look like to you, what might it be stopping you doing etc.

Linking the goal to the top 1 or 2 values 
Using my hierarchy, this process is about linking the goal I want to achieve to the values of freedom and truth.

Not an easy list to do this with, which is why I needed to try what I'll demonstrate later, but not impossible.

So let's think of things I'm currently procrastinating on - oh yes - writing my book.

Currently I can see how writing it provides the last 3 values (connection, contribution, achievement) but can also understand why freedom might be getting in the way. After all once the book is written, its then published (and a publisher has already said they're interested), and then in my head freedom goes out the window. I mean people will want me to go here and there, and be at their beck and call. Perhaps not as bad as I've made it seem but you get the idea . 

How might your higher values be what's stopping you moving towards a goal.

The key therefore is finding ways of understanding how achieving the goal will also meet the value. To provide the motivation needed by saying in my example not only will my freedom not be hindered but it will be enhanced.

So a successfully written and published book will provide more interest in what I do, more opportunities and therefore more freedom to choose what I do. Interest in the book will lead to more speaking and training opportunities and therefore certainly more opportunity for truth and laughter too.

The aim would be to keep going until you can sense the motivation to take the necessary actions has increased.

Might this be the answer to why you're not achieving your goal?

Putting the values in a different hierarchy
It can be as simple as just reprioritising your list! Not so easy though.

One way of doing this would be to write the values on separate pieces of paper and put them in order you've discovered from yesterday's exercise.

Now identify the order you think would be more helpful and as you move the words into that new order (one at a time) notice what comes up for you - emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, memories etc.

I'd then suggest it's a case of making a note of what comes up, putting the values back in the original order and then taking time to explore what came up.

We're covering 'beliefs' in the blog next week, but for example a belief from childhood that everything in life is scarce might mean you have security as a top value. If you were able to alter the belief about scarcity the value's importance might diminish.

There is no right or wrong - just what is, and an understanding of how that supports or hinders you in your daily life. Armed with this information you can then make choices about changes you might what to make.

There are a number of other processes that help you do this that it would be very difficult to share here. The key is not forcing a value to be anything than where it is in the hierarchy. By understanding why its as important as it is, however, you might be able to change its importance.

Understanding the relationship between values

Pick one of your values.

As you imagine the value can you see a word, and is it in colour or black and white, or is it a picture, or perhaps a sound or feeling.

Once you've got a sense of that then explore it some more - is it large or small, where it is located spatially (inside or outside of you), what happens when you turn it up or down and so on.

Just have a play and notice what you notice.

Now do the same for another value and notice the differences.

Once you've done this for a number of your values then if one really stands out as different what happens if you make it more like the others? or what happens if you make your first value more like your last value or visa versa? Just have a play, calibrating all the time the impact it has.

Perhaps even think about the goal you've been having problems achieving and notice if any of the changes you make it feel more achievable.

When I drew my list of values for work on a flip chart here's what I discovered.

It seems Contribution might have become more important just as I've been writing these blogs :-) which links to an observation I made when writing about the Well Formed Outcome on Tuesday.

Looking at this visual representation of my values hierarchy it feels like achievement is a little left out, and freedom still might be a little too big for its boots.

So I just played around with the representation - location, size, colour etc and ended up with this:

It feels less onerous than the original - I may want to add a colour to the yellow bubbles and find something to put into the gap at the top (as I've been tidying the blog up I've come up with an idea - see below).

Only time will tell if doing this helps or hinders me getting better results moving forward (but hey I did just use the word results - so perhaps achievement is now more in the fold).

Whilst this all makes sense to me and feels right - remember - values are driven from the heart so the brain will have a hard time if it tries to make sense of it. Especially if you try to make sense of someone elses representation of their values. It doesn't mean someone can't ask questions we just have to make sure we don't make assumptions about what size, distance etc means, or try to apply our meaning to a word.

As ever if you try it for yourself you'll get a sense of whether this particular process might be able to unlock the reason for you not moving towards that goal.

If you want to know more about this process search 'submodalities and NLP' and that should provide you with more information. It's a lovely model and has soooooo many applications - in goal setting too (imagine doing the above just with all the goals you have.)

Sorry to go on and on - I just love exploring values and applying all the NLP techniques to them. Just don't get me onto Landscaping Your Life otherwise we'll be here all day!

Do let me know if you have any queries and don't forget coaching sessions are available if you'd like me to take you through the process and explore your values more to understand the impact they might be having on your life +44(0) 7770 538159

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out when what you're doing isn't working.

* Other blogs covering goals this week have included: Goals are not sweeping generalisations, Well Formed Outcomes, what's stopping you and what's motivating your actions. You may also find of interest my blog from the archives on ethical behaviour and the impact of our values on whether it's even possible.

PS I did say values aren't heady things but come from the heart - here's what happened as I was writing this blog.

As I looked at the new visual representation of my values (above) and thought about what to add to that space below connection Love popped into my head and I smiled.

My original list of 10 values included Love, and for the purposes of not scaring people off (sorry I know I should know better) decided to omit it when I reduced the list to 7.

Which just shows how unconscious but important values are as I unconsciously, it would seem, left room for Love - knowing it would eventually get added back in :-).

A great example of not judging our values - they are what they are and it's about working with that to do what we need/want to do every day.

I have a session with my coach today so think I'm going to ask that we explore this further. Although goal setting more generally will also be discussed - they do say we teach what we most need to learn or in this case - need to Do.

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