The subject of values came up a lot over the past few weeks, particularly as we were preparing for our first “OutsideTheLines” workshop. We intuitively knew what values were, but trying to describe them in words was much harder!
Over the years I have read many definitions, but none have really described them in a way that I feel helps others truly understand their own values. The best way I can describe what values are, is how I experience and use them myself.
Values help guide my decision making in various ways from what I do and who I spend my time with, to the type of work I choose to take part in. Sometimes this is done consciously, for example, if I was applying for a job I would always carry out due diligence on how people are treated within a company before I worked with them. Are they respectful? Do they encourage diversity and honest communication at all levels? At an unconscious level, my values guide how I communicate and treat people in every day interactions.
Sometimes, values can become more evident when you are not experiencing them or perhaps when they are being compromised. It may start with a level of discomfort, where you know that something is not quite right but you are not quite sure of what is causing you to feel that way. More often that not, this is when one or more of your values has been compromised.
Being able to pause and reflect on why you are feeling that way at a deeper values level can be helpful. It can help you understand the situation better and from there decide on whether it is something that you can live with, change your mindset on, or whether you need to address it.
Over the last few years, I have learned which values are most important to me. I recognise that when I am living and working in an environment that is aligned to my values I feel energised and happy, but when they are compromised or violated….I definitely know about it. This level of self awareness allows me to change course, respond or make different decisions rationally and quickly. On a proactive level, it helps me make the best decisions for me in all areas of my life and also behave with integrity.
Whilst many people think talking about values may be a little ‘touchy feely’ (one of my previous colleagues words not mine) – they are anything but. They are hard data points that with self awareness can guide our behaviour, actions and decisions.
If you have never been through the process of working out which are your most important values, the ones that you want to prioritise experiencing in your life at the moment, then I suggest that you try it. The process of doing so may reaffirm certain things and help you get clarity around others. It may even help you with decisions that you have coming up in the future.
We have several tools that can help you identify your most important values. If you would like to explore this more depth, you can reach out to us at any time.