Coach, help me explore and unpack

Recently my team and I have been assessing options for executive coaching programs. As part of this assessment I was assigned, for the first time in years, an executive coach. As someone who believes our learning journeys never end, I approached this assignment as a gift and was super excited. As one does in preparation of meeting a new coach, I completed a strengths analysis, prepared a list of current challenges and related goals, and wrote a narrative about my most relevant work-life experiences.

During our first meeting, my coach and I immediately connected on some common personal and professional experiences. As a great coach does, she got me to open up quickly and share more about my why and my goals. During another meeting, as we continued our discussions, she asked me about my values. Now, I’ve been employing values exploration for years with others, and often consider my own values in the context of my behaviors and what drives me. This time, with the help of my coach, I began to more deeply consider whether my “top values” were, in fact, my top values. Here’s what I mean.

Thanks to my upbringing and the fact that my parents believed it was critical to raise fiercely independent daughters (check out a related article), I have always considered “being autonomous” in my top three values. Yet, my new coach recognized this value seemed incongruous based on what she had learned about me. What she responded was, “That’s interesting. Are you sure you aren’t holding on to a value that served you in the past, or was part of your past, that is no longer working for you?” Punch. In. The. Gut. Upon reflection, she was 100% right. What she aptly pointed out is that I highly value the opposite – human connection, relatability, and vulnerability.

We dug a little deeper into other values I had listed as important like “work hard, play hard.” As she probed, she helped me unpack some other truths. Again, she wondered aloud, maybe that value was one instilled by my family and a value that had served me well in my career. Recently, though, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, one that is very much manageable – and one that I will have to manage through end of life, which kinda sucks. Maybe, she asked, health and wellbeing are more important at this juncture of my life than working and playing hard. Punch. In. The. Gut.

Through this work with my coach, I was reminded a fresh set of eyes and ears can be critical to help us explore, reflect, and unpack. When we rush from one meeting to another, solving problems and being focused on the external world, we risk not taking the time to reflect on how or why we approach problems the way we do. The most effective leaders never fear digging deep inside themselves to unpack their roots and understand how those roots impact their values and decision-making. We humans evolve, learn, and grow through this exploration, which allows us to be better – better leaders, better colleagues, better caretakers of self.

Mollie Bell

Mollie Bell

Mollie Bell joined Ent Credit Union in December 2018 as Chief Development Officer. Mollie has worked on behalf of credit unions since 2007, having worked for CUNA Mutual Group, Filene ... Web: Details