Are you genetically predisposed to something or did you see it at home? Is it your natural wiring or the way you were brought up? Ahhh, the question of nature vs. nurture ... that perpetual debate.

When you or someone you are working with isIt doesn’t really matter if it's inborn of acquired faced with a negative character trait, it doesn’t really matter if it is inborn or an acquired habit. What matters is that after so many years of etching a pattern into the brain, it takes effort to undo it. Just like a talent or skill does not develop overnight, the character trait did not develop overnight, and it takes much thought and focus to change it.

But it’s not impossible. In fact, it is very possible. Before a child is born, he is made to swear that he will “be righteous” (Niddah 30b). The word for swear, mashbi’in, can also be translated as “satiated.” When a soul is swearing that he will be righteous, G‑d is satiating him with the spiritual strength and energy to combat whatever challenges he will encounter in life. The soul is empowered with the exact personality and tools necessary to succeed at self-transformation, as it says, “according to the camel is its load” (Ketubot 67a).

It helps to explore that a bit. Which “spiritual strengths” do you or your mentee possess? How can they be utilized to combat a negative trait? Say someone is artistically inclined, how can that be used as a tool to overcome anger or depression? If someone is a gifted writer, how can that talent be harnessed into the struggle to be honest?

Another clue is to question “what has worked in the past?” When your coachee had a goal that she wanted to achieve, which parts of her personality did she fall back on to help support her quest? Was it determination? Commitment? Creativity? The premise is that she is fully equipped by G‑d to overcome her present challenge because embedded in each soul is the exact “recipe” needed to change. One need only tap into their soul’s inherent strength.

Self-Reflection: How can you help your coachee explore her strengths and her abilities to create new, positive habits?

Source: “The Principles of Education and Guidance,” Chapter 4