That which is most important to us
Our Values are those things most important to us.
Our values drive us from the moment we rise in the morning until the moment we retire in the evening. They underpin all our major decisions – and most of the minor ones. And whether you like them or not, your values are your values. You can’t choose them and you can’t change them. You are you.
Discovering, understanding and embracing our core values is the single most powerful self-development step we can take.
We might not immediately think that. Or we might say that sounds an overstatement. Because we talk about our values like it’s obvious what they are and why we hold them. But I can tell you: people go their whole lives without knowing what their core values are.
“Oh yes, I most value honesty, integrity and trustworthiness,” we might say. And perhaps those are your top 3 core values. And if so, I respect that: they’re great values. But are they really your top 3 core values – or is this (or something like it) just your stock response to the values question?
If I take myself as an example: I consider myself to be an honesty and trustworthy person; and I like to think I act with integrity. But I don’t mind sharing with you that honesty, integrity and trustworthiness are nowhere near my list of core values.
My #1 value is Harmony. And my top 6 values include Honour. When I act with honesty, integrity and trustworthiness, for me, it’s an expression of those core values. For me, they are my higher values.
And it’s been far more useful to me to know that harmony and honour are my deepest core values, than pretend or misunderstand honesty, integrity and trustworthiness to be what’s truly driving my thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
One simple question to discover your values
One simple question to discover the core value beneath a goal or behaviour is to ask: “what will that get for me?” And then to keep asking it: to drill-down to your core, underlying value.
For example: you might ask yourself what’s most important about a goal to find a new job. And your first answer might be “financial security”. And when I have financial security, what will that get for me? Peace of mind. And when I have peace of mind, what will that get for me? Freedom. And when I have freedom, what will that get for me? Happiness.
And so on, until you start circling back round to the same value or values. Or when you start to use identity-level statements starting “I”, for example: “I grow”, “I learn”, “I adapt”.
A final tip: be sure not to over-think this process. Else we tend to start evaluating our values; or choosing the values we think we should have.
Your Values Assessment Workbook
Once we know our values, we can look afresh at the things that we do; at our goals and our aspirations; at the things that we want. And from there, look at where our values are being most expressed, where our values are in conflict, and where our values could be expressed more.
To help you discover, understand and embrace your core values, download my free Values Assessment Workbook. And take that most powerful self-development step.