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The Critical Missing Link in Positive Psychology

Posted by Julia Stewart

Photo by Justin Kern - Missing Links in Positive Psychology.jpg

Positive psychology has been ignoring what matters most in life.

You already know we love positive psychology and that emotional intelligence picks up where positive psychology leaves off. But here's a missing link to positive psychology that hardly anybody mentions...

Because for on thing, the way most people talk about this missing link just isn't sexy. That's because it's been presented to most of us as a "should" (something we should care about and act upon), rather than what it really is: completely unique and personal to each of us.

When we approach this missing link from our uniqueness, it becomes inspiring.

When we approach it from what's been imposed upon us, as a "should", it deflates us. No wonder we don't talk about it! Some coaches even think they should avoid asking questions about it!

I'm talking about what matters most to you: your personal values.

These are often not the same as what you parents, schools, religious, or political leaders taught you to value. Taught values help us fit into society. They make us homogeneous. They may be uninspiring, but you find yourself living your life around them - and then wondering why your life feels flat, boring, or lifeless. 

Personal values are unique to you, uniquely energizing and inspiring to you.

Recently some fascinating research was done on values under the guise of mindfulness, a positive psychology tool that is so thoroughly researched, it has its own research journal called, Mindfulness. It's well-known that practicing mindfulness leads to greater wellbeing, which is the ultimate measure of positive psychology. New research shows people who practice mindfulness are more likely to act on their values. Current research is attempting to prove whether lived values are the main reason mindfulness increases wellbeing. 

Personal values contain the blueprint for your calling in this life.

Nothing could be sexier! And like finger prints, everyone's values are unique. Unfortunately, most people have no idea what their personal values even are.

Here are a few more important points about personal values:

  • Values are personal, unique, and individual.
  • Values help us show up authentically.
  • Values are what matters most to each of us.
  • Values point to our unique long-lasting happiness and fulfillment.
  • Values point out your calling and life purpose.
  • Values integrate heart and mind.
  • Values integrate us with other people.
  • Values help us feel fully alive.
  • Values help us serve others.
  • Values determine our actions more than anything else.
  • Values give meaning to our lives.
  • Values help us harmonize our relationships.
  • Values help us integrate our emotions.
  • Values inspire us.
  • Values help us reach our goals.
  • Values give us greater freedom if we're aware of them.
  • Values are catalyzed by mindfulness.
  • Values lead to greater wellbeing.

All of the above is wonderful, but most people don't even know what their personal values are and often we confuse our needs with out values and needs are a whole different thing.

We can't make the most of our lives without identifying and activating our true values. 

Positive psychology coaches are perfectly positioned to help people identify and act on their true values. But most positive psychology coaching is strengths-based only and without our personal values, using our strengths feels empty and meaningless. It's time we fully integrate values with strengths. 

Values are the missing link in wellbeing.

The Certified Positive Psychology Coach program thoroughly integrates strengths and values and two modules that focus on values are coming up soon: The Psychology of Values and Personal Evolution and Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths. Each course can be taken individually and is approved for 8 ICF ACSTH or CCEs.

Coach with the missing link of positive psychology and help your clients achieve what matters most to them.

Click below to choose a values-based coach-training module.

Upcoming Coach-Training Courses

 

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, Needs, mindfulness, Values, positive psychology coaches, personal values, wellbeing

Positive Psychology Coaching: How Do You Define Happiness?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Happiness_Big

I was asked recently to define "happiness" and had to ponder a bit.

A Google search, "happiness definition", gave Google's definition at the top of search results as: 

"The state of being happy".

Google, I think we can do better.

Most other definitions of happiness seem to involve nice feelings, such as joy, contentment, delight, and pleasure. Most of us know this kind of happiness when we feel it, so maybe it's no surprise that many writers on positive psychology don't bother to define it, even though their interventions supposedly will make us feel happy.

Yet thinkers since at least Aristotle's time have disagreed over the meaning of happiness, so it may be that defining it is more important than we assume. Also, there are positive psychology researchers who must define happiness specifically in order to measure it. Their definitions don't always fit mine.

So what is happiness, anyway?

My definition involves components of happiness. So it's more than a mere definition; it's a road map of sorts for finding happiness. See what you think.

First, what happiness isn't.

Sustainable happiness doesn't come from getting what you want. Those feelings always wear off, usually pretty quickly. On average, people who look enormously successful on the outside aren't happier than the rest of us. In fact, they are often miserable.

And what many people think is happiness really isn't.

It's closer to what I would call, "relief". Relief from negative feelings, such as fear, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, or dread feels way better than being caught up in those feelings. Plus, in the absence of negative feelings, many people allow themselves to enjoy life for a bit. Unfortunately those times often come in short supply. Relief, however, is an important component of happiness, a gateway, so to speak.

Relief comes from getting your needs met. Needs include physical stuff, like enough rest and the right food, but they also include emotional needs, such as belonging, safety, achievement, and social support. Virtually everyone has unmet needs, but individual needs vary from one person to the next.

One strategy for freeing oneself from most negativity is to simply get your needs met "once and for all", as Thomas Leonard used to say. Most people think that isn't possible, so they go through life hoping to get their needs met as if they have no control over the process. Hope is not a strategy, however.

Savvy coaches know that meeting needs is surprisingly easy and that the relief clients feel when their needs are met frees up energy to build a life that is truly wonderful. So meeting needs is the first step toward happiness, the gateway on my road map to happiness.

Then there's the idea of ease and engagement that many people believe is part of happiness. We've all had happy experiences in which we got to do things "our way" and it felt way better than having to do them someone else's way. That's one reason so many people dream of being their own bosses. And if you have a hobby, probably you've enjoyed moments when time just flew, because you were having fun. 

Ease, engagement, fun and tempus fugit are all outcomes of using what positive psychology coaches call, strengths. Everybody has skills or talents that allow them to do things easily that might be hard for the rest of us to do. Like needs, strengths are individual. Help someone discover theirs and assist them in finding ways to use them and you'll help put them on the road to happiness. You'll also free up energy that they might have wasted trying to do things someone else's way. That means more energy is available to create a wonderful life.

So what makes life wonderful?

Everyone can think of people, experiences, or things that help to make life more wonderful. Usually there's an underlying reason why, to one individual, family feels like the most important thing, while travel, for instance matters most to someone else. Finding that underlying thing can transform life, but most people never do. What I'm talking about is what effective coaches call, "values". They are perhaps the most important coaching topic, of all.

Yep, everyone's values are a bit different, just as everyone has different needs and strengths. Values are what matter most to us and living your life expressing what's most important to you is marvelously fulfilling. It has an additional element of service to it, whether intentional, or not. So if you keep a lovely garden, because you value beauty, everyone who sees your garden benefits. Or if you work hard at your job, because you value diligence, both your employer and customers of your employer benefit. Sometimes you may intentionally serve others, other times service might just be accidental, but either way, you are serving the larger good. That gives meaning and purpose to your life, while making the world a bit better for everyone else.

Service, meaning and purpose are the road to lasting happiness, but most people need help identifying their values and designing their lives around them. In fact, most people mistake their needs for their values and take their strengths for granted. Too bad.

So my road map to happiness is this: free yourself from chronic negativity by getting your needs met. Discover your strengths and use them in as many ways as you can to enjoy more fun and ease. In fact, use  your strengths to get your needs met and express your top values for relief from negativity, more energy and fun, as well as a deep, fulfilling and abiding sense of happiness.

That's what I call happiness.

If you're a coach (or want to become one) and you're curious how you can help others get their needs met, activate their strengths, and express their values, you'll love the upcoming Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths module at SCM. You'll become a much more efficient coach, learn how to use assessments to help your clients more quickly, and earn a certificate of completion, all in just four weeks.

Click the button below to learn more and/or register.

Register: Coaching Values, Needs & Strengths

 

 

 

Topics: coach training, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, Needs, Values, happiness,

6 Ways Life Coaching is Like Hostage Negotiation

Posted by Julia Stewart

hostages freed by Mohammed Ghafari resized 600
Hostages being freed, Egypt, 2008. Photo by Mohammed Ghafari, Flickr, Creative Commons.

 

 

Life coaching is confused with a number of other professions. Hostage negotiation isn't one of them. So it might shock you to know that effective hostage negotiation shares quite a lot with effective life coaching.

 

Why? Both coaching and negotiation are basically conversations between human beings. The same 'magic' communication skills work well, whether between coach and client, salesman and shopper, parent and teenager, or negotiator and terrorist. In fact, these conversations are really not all that different from each other.

 

I discovered this yesterday while reading Wired magazine collumnist, Eric Barker's interview with former top FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss, who now teaches business negotiation at places like Harvard. In it, Chris shares tips and secrets on how to negotiate successfully, stop thinking like a schizophrenic, and why you should never settle for a one-boob breast augmentation.

 

Here are six ways Hostage Negotiation is like Life Coaching:

 

  1. You can't ignore emotions. Chris says one of the biggest mistakes many negotiators make is that they try to ignore emotion and just be rational. The problem with that, as he says is, "There’s a lot of scientific evidence now that demonstrates that without emotions you actually can’t make a decision, because you make your decisions based on what you care about." In coaching, what you care about is called your 'Values'. Great coaches always clarify their client's values, otherwise their clients can't make good choices. I tell my coaching students that emotions always have an underlying logic. Once you understand the meaning behind the emotion, it always makes sense and moving forward gets easier.
  2. You have to really listen. Most people don't really listen to each other; they just formulate their responses while the other person is talking. The result is that they don't really hear everything the other person is saying. Worse, it means most of us go through life without anyone ever really hearing us. That's a soul-slaughtering experience. No wonder some people go postal. Chris says negotiating with a schizophrenic is especially challenging, because a schizophrenic is often distracted by voices in their head. He says when you listen to your own voice in your head instead of to the other person, you're behaving like a schizophrenic who can't really hear what's going on. I couldn't say it better.
  3. Feed back what you're hearing. Chris says, "The idea is to really listen to what the other side is saying and feed it back to them. It’s kind of a discovery process for both sides. First of all, you’re trying to discover what’s important to them, and secondly, you’re trying to help them hear what they’re saying to find out if what they are saying makes sense to them." In coaching, this is called mirroring, or you can double-duty it and also acknowledge them as you mirror. Both of you will get more clarity. The other person will know you're really listening, which helps make a stronger connection. The result is greater openness and willingness to work with you.
  4. Keep clarifying. Chris suggests, "You can say, 'What are we trying to accomplish here?'  Then, 'How is what you are asking for going to get you that?' Great coaching questions! Most people, terrorists and schizophrenics included, need help clarifying what they really want and how they're going to get it. That's what coaching's about. Apparently, that's an important part of hostage negotiation too.
  5. Never compromize. According to Chris, compromize is a terrible thing. The metaphor he uses is the husband who wants his wife to get a boob job. She doesn't want to do it, so they compromize and she just gets one. In other words, nobody gets what they really want. Coaches exist to help people get what they really want. Most people are so used to compromizing that what they tell you they want is usually just what they think they should want or what they think they can get instead of what they actually want. Trust me, your clients can get what they don't want on their own. They don't need to pay you thousands of dollars to help them compromize.
  6. Don't argue. If each side is presenting its arguments, neither is really listening (See #2). Instead of resolution, you get more conflict. If you want the other side to hear you, let them get their whole story out. Otherwise, that story will get in the way of their ability to hear you. It'll get in the way of getting what they want, too. 

 

Obviously, there are key distinctions between life coaching and hostage negotiation. For starters, a negotiator has an agenda to resolve a horrible situation without anyone getting hurt or killed. In coaching, our only agenda is to help the client think and act more resourcefully so they can get what they really want. The negotiator may only be trying to buy time until the SWAT team can either rescue the hostages or arrest the terrorist. Big difference.

 

But people are people. They want you to hear what matters to them, even if they can't articulate that, yet. Maybe if more people were coached, fewer people would go ballistic.

 

Learn how to coach people on what really matters to them (and get a coaching certificate):

Register: Coaching Values, Needs & Strengths 

Topics: Coaching, coach training, coach, coaching classes, clients, Life Coaching, life coach training, Coaching Certificate, Strengths, Needs, Values

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