The Art of Coaching, by Elena Aguilar, is one of my favorite professional books. I have professed my respect for the work multiple times here on the blog. This month I finally began to read Aguilar’s newest book, The Art of Coaching Teams, which is just as incredible! This is an amazing resource for leaders.
Each chapter is rich with reflective questions and resources that help you consider your vision, your leadership style, and the purpose of your work. One activity I recently completed was about your core values. You can find the directions and the word list on Aguilar’s website.
The activity begins with you looking over a list of about 110 words. These words are not an exhaustive list of possible values, but it’s a great place to start. You are directed to circle ten values you feel are important to you. In my first read of the list, I circled 22 words. There were THAT MANY words that struck me during my first view of the list.
Since I overshot step one, I narrowed my initial list of 22 words down to 10. While this cut took some thought, it wasn’t too challenging. I was able to eliminate a few words that I associate more with my personal life than my professional life (though many overlap). However, the next step was to cross off five words, leaving me with a list of five values.
This step was painful. I hemmed and hawed a lot. Truthfully, I reflected on what I believe, how I act at work, how I hope to be perceived by others, and what drives me. Each of those five words was important to me as a learner and as a leader.
The next step was to narrow my list further down to only three words- the three most important values to me at this point in time. After more serious reflection (which was one of my top five words!), I decided on my final three values:
- Making a Difference
The final step in this activity was to reflect on the process- what led me to this list.
As expected, it was hard to keep cutting words off my list. I cut off balance and mindfulness before the first cut, though those are both important words in my personal life (and they do support my work). But I was focused on my core values as a leader, an educator, a coach, a mentor, here in this current world. I knew that trust and equity would be on my final list; they are non-negotiables in my life. They would not have been on my list 12 years ago, but I was a younger, more naive leader 12 years ago, who didn’t know how critical trust was. I also was just learning about all the inequities in education and discovering the importance of social justice leadership.