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Using Core-Values Coaching to Inspire Experiences and Expressions of Gratitude in the Workplace

I coach employees using a science-based technique that focuses on core values to help them transform challenges and express gratitude.

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With your grant, I propose coaching nonprofit employees (using Values2Wellbeing) to improve their wellbeing and develop authentic gratitude in the workplace.  Your grant will cover the coaching services, so that nonprofits do not initially shoulder the cost.  The coaching is a key step to develop a culture of wellbeing in the nonprofit world, where employees are cherished and gratitude is inspired.  Improved longevity among fundraising staff will result in the nonprofits better meeting their missions.  After our trial and evaluation, we can scale up our efforts and reach the greater nonprofit community. 

I’m passionate about transforming the nonprofit world, by creating a culture of wellbeing where employees are cherished, rather than treated as workhorses.  Developing gratitude is a key component.

The turnover rate among fundraisers is shockingly high.  A culture of wellbeing will help the staff to have greater longevity.  This will result in improved relationships with even more donors, a corresponding increase in giving, and greater success as nonprofits fulfill their missions.  Everyone and everything that they serve will benefit.

I’m certified in Values2Wellbeing, a science-based coaching technique created by the folks at Science2Wellbeing.  What I’m sharing with you now is part of their coach-training module.

What are core values?  They are our intrinsic guiding principles that we’re born with.  Examples include creativity, independence, and authenticity.  Your special mishmash of values is what makes you – you.

This is key:  we’re at our best when we’re living congruently with our core values.  Years of research show that when our work and daily actions are aligned with our values, we experience joy and fulfillment. 

If this is so simple, why do we often fail to apply this?  Unfortunately, it’s challenging to identify your core values.  And the process becomes even murkier when you consider that you adopted some values along the way from outside sources, like your family, culture, and media.

Sometimes our acquired values serve us, and sometimes they don’t.  The problem is that we lack the experience to know that it’s our core values, and not acquired, that will ultimately make us happy.

You may be living each day attempting to align yourself with values that aren’t even your own!

I did this myself for a few months when I accepted a promotion that I didn’t really want, but I sure liked the title.  I was “successful,” but not happy or fulfilled.  Turns out I had made decisions based on my acquired values, and not my core.

My clients appreciate how Values2Wellbeing removes the guesswork from the process.  They love the elegant structure that helps them to quantify their values, and objectively shows them which are their core values, and which they acquired from others.

To be happy, we need to live a life true to ourselves.  This coaching technique gives employees the awareness to make effective decisions that are aligned with their core values.  In turn, they feel deeply grateful when they can see how their job assignments are congruent with their core values. 

As a coach, I help them consider their assignments, and match each task to at least one core value.  Employees who once felt ambivalence (or worse, dread) about an assignment are able to view the same work as an opportunity to meet their deepest desire – a chance to live congruently with a core value they cherish.  The employees who appreciate the silver lining offered by their job assignments are the ones who will feel most grateful.

Sometimes an employee needs more than a new perspective to feel fulfilled.  She may need to incorporate more of what she loves into her job description, or perhaps in life outside of work.  As a coach, I help her identify what activities light her on fire, and how she can bring more of those into her work and life.  When an employee is living congruently with her values, she feels a deep sense of connection and gratitude.

A second way employees develop gratitude is by better understanding the values of challenging co-workers.  Employees who have taken a deep dive into Values2Wellbeing have razor-sharp clarity about their core and acquired values.  They understand how we may adopt values from our culture, our generation, or our families.  With this new perspective, employees can think about themselves and their co-workers, and objectively consider previous conflicts. 

Often, when we look at heated conversations from the past through the lens of our values, we feel more objective and less reactive.  When we can see that differences in thoughts and actions may be attributed to a difference in values, we can maintain a basic respect for our co-workers as unique and whole individuals.

This respect, under the right conditions, can lead to an authentic expression of gratitude. 

I understand the need for a top-down approach, by providing coaching to the leadership team as well as the development department.  With Values2Wellbeing, I coach employees in person, as well as by skyping – making it possible to help employees across the globe.  (I offer more traditional coaching by phone as well.)

The coaching sessions in Values2Wellbeing are more structured than a normal coaching session.  There are three sessions, two hours each, scheduled one week apart.  Gratitude will be incorporated throughout these six hours.  In addition, I will include a follow-up session to help the employee shift towards greater gratitude and wellbeing.  These seven hours of coaching will culminate in exciting, positive changes over time.

Partnering with the GGSC will accelerate my ability to mobilize against employee burnout.  A grant would take my efforts from robust to supersonic!  It would also transform the lives of nonprofit employees.

Idea Title

Core Values – the Gateway to Gratitude

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

Core-Values Coaching will inspire gratitude among employees in two key ways: 1) employees may enjoy a new appreciation for their job responsibilities; and 2) employees may feel and express authentic gratitude for other co-workers, including managers and subordinates. To help employees who are overwhelmed to feel more grateful, I have them match each job assignment with a core value, and to see opportunity. Likewise, when employees better understand the values of challenging co-workers, they feel more connected and accepting. By focusing on the values system (rather than holding grudges from perceived slights) these employees are better able to feel gratitude for every team member.

Who are you innovating for?

I am passionate about innovating for employees in the nonprofit world. They will learn to: • Know what is most important to them, and be able to make critical decisions based on their new self-awareness. • Transform obstacles at work into opportunities for growth. • Enjoy a healthier workplace where they feel appreciated for who they are, rather than what they accomplish. • Respect the values of their co-workers, thereby transforming previous conflicts into authentic gratitude.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

I’m passionate about transforming the nonprofit world, by creating a culture of wellbeing where employees are cherished. Developing gratitude is a key component. Core-Values Coaching is a key piece to helping employees renew their passion. While nonprofits of any size and location will benefit, for the purposes of this grant, I will focus on nonprofits in the Sacramento area.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

The GGSC and I will meet with folks from Science2Wellbeing, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, California Capital Chapter (AFPCCC). (I am a member of AFPCCC.) We will create a plan to encourage nonprofits to apply for the funded coaching opportunity. Collaborating with the GGSC, I will create a simple application. Together, we’ll review the applications and select organizations. I’ll notify everyone about our decision, and begin coaching. GGSC and I will evaluate our success together. I'll be responsible for implementing the plan, and I understand that success is based on collaborations with: • Greater Good Science Center • Science2Wellbeing • AFPCCC & nonprofits

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

Funding – Nonprofits may not have the money for Core-Values Coaching. Using the grant to cover the costs initially would be a giant step in overcoming this obstacle. After the trial, I’ll partner with AFPCCC to help nonprofits create fundraising plans for the program. (Corporate sponsors and board members are possible funders.) I’ll also create a communications plan for the program, promoting its success and value among nonprofits.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

Working with the GGSC, I will survey employees before and after they participate in Core-Values Coaching. Together, we will evaluate the success of the trial, and I anticipate this will show increased gratitude in the workplace. In the future, we will build on our success with a PR campaign to enlist additional nonprofits. We’ll offer fundraising ideas so that they can make a culture of wellbeing a reality.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

If I receive a grant, I’ll immediately thank the GGSC and the John Templeton Foundation on my blog, social media, and in press releases. Next key steps: • Meet with the GGSC, Science2Wellbeing, and AFPCCC for buy-in and to create a timeline. • Share the opportunity with nonprofits, and accept applications. I want to be mentored in survey techniques. I also seek your support in creating a scalable program that can reach nonprofits beyond California. I'd be grateful to work with you.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.
  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.
  • Piloting: You have started to implement your solution as a whole with a first set of real users. You may have started to develop a business model for your idea, including identifying key customer segments, relevant partnerships, go-to-market strategy, and draft financials.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

In 2015, I met Senka Holzer (previously Ljubojevic), PhD. She had completed a scientific study, and found that clients who focus on their core values, using her specific coaching technique, experienced an increase in wellbeing. She won the first-place research award at a conference offered by Harvard Medical School. Senka launched Science2Wellbeing and is conducting a second study on Values2Wellbeing. I participated as a coach, and look forward to the results.

Tell us about yourself

As a coach, I help nonprofit employees who are burning out to renew their passion. I founded Primavera to create a culture of wellbeing where employees are cherished. I have a 17-year history as a nonprofit employee, where I managed fundraising campaigns. After burning out (quite spectacularly), I re-evaluated my career, and earned my Associate Certified Coach credential.

Where are you / your team located?

Northern California United States

Company / Organization Name



Tell us about your experience

I’m the leading spokeswoman for a movement to create a culture of wellbeing in the nonprofit world. I recently completed the white paper “Is it You? Or is it Your Job? Discover Why You’re Overwhelmed at Your Nonprofit." As a professional coach, I help my clients develop gratitude. As an enthusiastic entrepreneur, I regularly speak about burnout to local chapters of AFP. I also have a blog on wellbeing, where I have discussed gratitude, transcending challenges, and resilience.


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