There is beauty and power in looking below the surface.

Cindy JobsADHD In The Workplace, Health and Well-Being

When we look at the ocean from the shore, we see an endless body of water, maybe some waves, but no depth, just surface. The ocean is beautiful on the surface but not even close to the beauty we find when we go below the surface. Throw on snorkeling or scuba gear, and a new world opens before us. 

Looking at ourselves and what makes us tick is the same. On the surface, we think we know what’s happening with ourselves or someone else, but true beauty and power are what we find when we dig a little deeper. When we ask questions. When we question limiting beliefs. When we challenge the status quo. Below the surface is where the magic lies.

When I start working with a client, I ask them to identify what’s important to them, their Values and Needs. These are the constants that live below the surface of who we are. Life feels good when our actions align with our Values and Needs. When they aren’t, our bodies give us physical indicators that something’s wrong.

Looking below the surface may be the key to success or failure in any number of realms: time management, accountability, relationships, activation, motivation, and any number of related challenges. So what is below that surface that is holding us back?

I’ll share some personal stories about my Values and Needs that are hiding below the surface.

Scenario #1:

I used to be a Puget Sound-based Professional Organizer. I was determined to expand my business to an area where we had a weekend home about 100 miles away and where we had planned to retire. But unfortunately, I never got the business off the ground as hard as I tried.

Fast forward a few years when I was deep into my Coach training. Part of our work was to do an in-depth Values (what we stand for) and Needs (what must be in place to make life “work”) exercise on ourselves. My results were as follows:

Values: Honesty, Loyalty, Affection

Needs: Family, Peace, Self-Worth

Does anything interesting pop out to you?

My primary need is Family. For my business to be successful in our weekend community, I would need to be away from my family at least 25% of the time. Huge disconnect! I hadn’t made that connection until I went through this exercise. I now wonder if I was self-sabotaging the potential business because I didn’t want to disconnect from my family. The only way to see what was happening was to look below the surface.

Scenario #2:

I’m an ESTJ (Extroverted, Observant, Thinking, Judging) on the Myers-Briggs assessment scale. According to, ESTJs “Often serve as a stabilizing force among others, able to offer solid direction amid adversity.”

I chuckle as I write this because I’m often tasked with organizing people, places, and things. I’m accused of being inclusive and loyal to a fault, wanting to ensure no one’s feelings are hurt. I stand up for my those I care about. I want everyone to be happy. I’m the peacekeeper. 

As a reminder, my Values and Needs results were as follows:

Values: Honesty, Loyalty, Affection

Needs: Family, Peace, Self-Worth

What jumps out at you?

Another high-ranking Need is Peace, and significant Values are Loyalty and Affection. When looking below the surface, the fact that I offer to host family dinners makes sense. That I try to arbitrate disagreements (whether I should or not) makes sense. The fact that I will defend people long past I should, make sense. 

When I step back and look at the things that bring me joy, they are in alignment with my Values and Needs, lurking below the surface. Conversely, when I ignore my Values and Needs, I self-sabotage or degrade my self-worth.

What is lurking below the surface that, if addressed, would explain why you do what you do? Then, armed with that knowledge, what would you do differently? If you did it differently, what could you accomplish? What story are you telling yourself based on surface knowledge that would bring you in alignment if you dug deeper?


Cindy Jobs, PCAC, ACC

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