You are unique.
You are fundamentally different from other people in many ways.
‘We’ may have similarities, we may like some of the same things but there will be differences that really matter and make us the unique individual that we are. Knowing what makes you ‘uniquely you’ can be crucial when it comes to making choices about your career and how you spend your time and live your life. Our core values is one such unique aspect.
Helping people to define their core values is a key part of most coaching programmes. It’s not difficult or particularly time consuming but it is very useful to know what they are. People who live a life that allows the expression of their core values are likely to feel generally fulfilled, happy and settled within themselves. By contrast, those who don’t may experience a high level of frustration, stress and dissatisfaction.
So how do we know what our core values are? The easiest way to understand core values is to look at children because children, especially young children are generally still pretty pure expressions of who they really are! Core values don’t really change much over time but sometimes life (education, parents, relationships etc) can run rough shod over them!
If you have children and especially if you have more than one child you will notice that there are things your kids do that they just love, stuff they are drawn towards. Free from the burden of ‘having to earn money’ kids are drawn to what they love deep down in their core; these are their values. One of my sons adores sport, he is highly competitive and exhaustingly energetic. He aspires to be the captain and always wants to be in charge of any situation he finds himself in. I would guess his core values are around Fun, Competition, Success and Pleasure and I will be amazed if this changes too much. By contrast, my other son couldn’t be more different, he is absorbed by facts and how things work. He is a much more private person who loves to cook and needs a high level of independence and space. His core values are very different from his brother and are probably around Creativity, Discovery, Mastery and Sensitivity. Knowing and recognising these differences will help me to guide them to become happier, more fulfilled, successful people (I hope!)
Most of us have 4 or 5 core values. Mine are Truth (honesty and integrity), Helping Others, Fun, Growth, Relationships (family, friends & colleagues) and Balance (physical, emotional and mental). These are not immovable but they have stayed pretty constant for years I would say. The odd bit of creativity also creeps in there but it’s not as strong as the others.
There are lots of different tools, techniques and methods for pinning down your core values. Quite an in depth but also easy one can be found at www.mas.org.uk/quest/ivp2.htm. Different tools and exercises will use slightly different categorisations and individual words but the essence is the same.
Alternatively (or as well as, if you love to do these kind of exercises) you can use the list of values on the next page. Take 15-20 mins out of your day, sit down with the list and ask yourself the following question; “If I didn’t need to work at all, what would I spend my time doing?” Which words ‘draw’ me to them.
Start by marking each word that resonates with you. This might be quite a long list! Then go back through the words and where words are similar decide which word more closely describes the value that belongs to you. It can be important to know the distinction between different words, for example, the word ‘create’ can encapsulate ‘to design’, ‘to build’, ‘to invent’ and of course these can be very different directions and activities.
Ideally you should whittle your list down to about 5 words. Once you are clear on your values take a moment to reflect on your life and how your values are being lived and expressed, also to think about anything you want to do differently as a result of what you have discovered.
The final point on values is to say that we also have ‘anti values’. These are those values which really turn us off and that we should avoid. For me rules and bureaucracy would be strong anti values which is probably why I didn’t enjoy corporate life!
Next weeks topic is Needs, the partner in crime to (but not to be confused with) Values. Enjoy your week!
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