When you are uncomfortable about something or someone do you understand why?
Have you ever wondered why your reactions to daily and life events differ from others?
Have you offended someone when your intention was the opposite?
Have you been deeply upset by someone you think should have known you better?
Have you made decisions that you really were not comfortable with?
Welcome, you are now beginning to explore your own personal values. It is your core values that underpin your responses to each of these questions.
What are my personal values and why are they important?
Imagine you are a tree. Your values are the tree roots that hold you firm in the ground. They allow you to sway and flex. They help guide you. They help you to remain grounded and true to yourself. They help you through the tough times.
Now imagine you are a stick of rock. Your values would be the words imprinted throughout your body.Your values guide you in your decision making.
Understanding that “integrity” is a core value of mine, helps me make decisions that I am comfortable with. If I experience any discomfort about what I am doing, it is highly likely that one of my values is sending me some warning signals!
Two people may share the same value, however it is unlikely that what that value means in practice for both of them is exactly the same. For example “courage” is another of my core values. For me this is about how I work with a client, challenging the norms and pushing boundaries to accelerate personal and organisational change. For someone, else courage may be about how they complete a sporting activity.
Each and every one of us is unique, yet we assume that people will respond like us. But why should they? Their values and what each means to them will be different.
Take for example a dear friend who also shares what appears to be the same value as me. Integrity to her meant that when she received more change than anticipated, she worried all night about it. The first thing she did the next morning, was put the coins and receipt in an envelope and post it under the shop door with a suitable note. Yes, I would have been concerned and hopefully noticed while at the till. No I wouldn’t have worried all night and I would not have been up at the crack of dawn to put it under the door. I would have popped in the next time I was passing.
So what does this mean? On the surface you may share similar values, in reality your meaning may be very different from the other persons’.
Defining your values:
Look at the following list and tick those that best describe you. This list is far from exhaustive, so please do add our own.
Aim to reduce your selection to four, by asking yourself: if this is no longer part of me:
What would be different about me?
How uncomfortable would I be?
Would I be able to function normally?
How would previous/current life decisions differ?
Would I be true to myself without it?
Being true to your values:
You have now identified your own core values. These are the very essence of you and who you are. They define you. They help you make decisions that are right for you. They help you to be true to yourself. They help you to avoid doing things you don’t want to do such as work in places where you are miserable, or retain questionable relationships. Your core values help you to be the person you want to be.
Now that you know your core values:
Tip 1: Reflect on the questions at the beginning of this article.
Identify your own real life examples for each question.
With the knowledge of your four values, explore what might be different.
Tip 2: Bring your values into your conscious thinking when faced with a big or difficult decision. Test your options with each of your values. Make your decision based on the option you are most comfortable with. Or delay and give yourself more time to explore the potential outcomes based on your values.
Tip 3: When you find yourself: unhappy or uneasy at what you are being asked to do, or upset at someone’s actions - then explore which of your values are being wobbled and consider how best to respond as a result.
Tip 4: Share your values with your loved ones. Seek to understand theirs. Through deepening your understanding of each other, you are less likely to find yourself in as many disagreements, or upset and angry with each other.
Tip 5: My view is, that throughout our lives, we are unlikely to change our core values. One may become more important than another at different times in our life. By understanding our values, we are unlikely to stray far from our true self. As a result we will be more relaxed and more comfortable with our life, how we live it and who is important to us.
Keen to explore further? Then please do contact us to explore how coaching can help you define and live your values.