May 8, 2018 • 4 minute read • by Saeed
“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.”
~ Elvis Presley
Values are everything. They act like an internal compass. Values are your ‘north star’ that lead you to land when you’re lost at sea. When our values are met, we feel great. When they are missing, we feel lost.
Success comes from the congruence between your goals and values. When you feel a setback, values keep you focused and motivated. So why are values so important and how do you discover yours?
Values are in your DNA
Your values are probably your parents’ values. People are values driven. People are attracted to other people and to organizations where the culture is the same as their values. This is why organizations become more homogeneous over time as does your social network. It’s also why values can drive prejudice in a workplace or in society. The glue of the in-group is values.
Values drive decisions
We make hundreds of decisions each day. Those decisions are a reflection of our values. Or at least they should be. If you let the temporary pain of an immediate problem drive your decision making, you will likely be led astray. But your values will never abandon you. You don’t realize this but your values are in collusion with your purpose.
Values trigger emotions
Your values determine how you handle conflict. When you’re angry about something or frustrated, you’re likely experiencing a values conflict. Your values form your conscience and together they are your court appointed attorney. When something or someone makes you behave or act against your values, then your conscience will raise an objection.
Values determine performance
If you want to correct performance, you have to focus on behavior not personality. Behavior best responds to values. You are more likely to change behavior (and to sustain the change) when the motivation comes from within. Values are embedded deep within.
Values work from deep within
When you are not living by your values, it can feel like a beach ball being held under the water. There is a feeling of constant pressure pushing to the surface. Your values are buried deep in your unconscious mind and bringing them to the forefront of your consciousness is a simple but important exercise. The more tricky equation is living by your values once you’ve surfaced them.
So how do you discover your values and know which are core values?
You can “pick” values from a list but this often leads to people choosing “SHOULD Values” – that is to say, the ones they think they ‘should’ have.
Instead, start by asking yourself what you need for your personal or professional life and what is important to you. What can you compromise on and what is non-negotiable. Your mind will immediately lead to a value that is important, such as “Trust” or “Independence” for example.
Now, dig a little deeper and come up with another value that is greater than trust and keep on collecting words that you feel are important to you until you find your core value.
So how do you know which is your core value?
Your core value is the value that is greater than any other value. It is the center of the target – the one where you feel that there is nothing more important than this value. Find at least 5 of these and begin to live your life in congruence with them. Again, easier said than done. Courage is often needed to live by your values.
A final word
If you don’t know what your values are, how can you possibly know where you are going or know what success looks like for you? That’s why in a coaching context, we often start by discovering values.
We must also be aware that there are limiting beliefs that can hold us back from meeting our values. These are the road blocks that will prevent you from reaching your goals and can even block you from meeting your values. You need to be aware of these roadblocks as well as your values and work consciously to change limiting beliefs to empowering beliefs. This is how you bring limitless happiness into your life.
The alignment of empowering beliefs with core values and behaviors that match, is the secret sauce to a life fulfilled.
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