A key to knowing yourself is being crystal clear about what is absolutely fundamental to you. What drives you personally and professionally? What underscores how you choose to live and be in this world? An unclouded picture of your personal beliefs, principles, YOUR values positions you to fully articulate and illustrate your preferred future. Without that clarity this is darn near impossible to do.
Think of values as your personal brass tacks, what you won’t compromise. It is painful when we do experience life in conflict with our values. Values are compass points to help you get clear, get into action that is on course come smooth sailing or rough waters, to get results which and get a better life. A fundamentally gratifying life in all its guises- not a mindlessly “blissful” life devoid of worry, stress or hardship. People who live the “good life” in a fundamental way, live with happiness grounded in a deep-rooted sense of harmony and flow with their values and deploy their strengths to help realise their Values. This sense of happiness a profound satisfaction and contentment is reflected in how they live their daily lives regardless of the environment you are experiencing. I know all this to be true from my personal experiences as well as my work with clients in clarifying values and taking action according to them. If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I have referenced values in multiple postings over the past several months.
Ayn Rand is not some I generally quote however, she has one of the finest statements on values and happiness I have encountered: Happiness is a state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievements of one’s Values.
But what exactly is a Value? What does the word mean? Being a bit of a logophile (someone who loves words) I headed to the dictionary- well several really. Here’s what I found: it can be a verb or a noun and takes on many shades of meaning dependent on the context in which the word is used. The word value in general connotes “worth” and implies there is an intrinsic excellence or desirability to have it. Values are the qualities, characteristics and trains you consider worthwhile. They are your deeply held driving forces. Your personal brass tacks, when you get right down to it, what matters post to you and how you choose to live and by in this world personally and professionally.
Attention to your values affords you great strength and serves as a powerful bottomless resource personally and professionally. You become more self-aware, prioritize tasks, make choices inline with your ethics and live as your fully authentic self. The deep self-awareness that comes from values clarification, provides an opportunity to step back and see what story you are telling through your life. That is, to understand how people perceive you, how you perceive yourself and how you would like to be perceived. You create the opportunity to identify the personal qualities that you would like to enhance and which you would like to change.
Values influence your choices, but your choices also influence your values over time. At certain junctions and times in life some of your values take on a greater sense of urgency or some may drift away and while other may take their place. There are however, likely some absolute core values you hold which do not ebb and flow over time. At a recent Values Clarification workshop I hosted one of the participants remarked that before becoming a parent orderliness was tremendously important in his home, his office, all aspects of his life, but now, reflecting on impact of parenting orderliness is still important but adventure is also deeply important, “Adventure is generally messy, literally and figuratively, a bit more mess in my life is good. My desk is still neat, I still know where all the bills are and when they need to be paid, but not everything has by perfectly aligned. My kids have taught me that.” If you neglect to examine the congruence of your actions with your values, your actions may be misguided by old assumptions that no longer hold true for you, or immediate concerns and instant gratification rather than your values. And that as we have learned over the past couple years is not a path to long term success, stability or credibility. It is just no way to live.
Because Values are foundational, I am beginning a short series focusing on this topic. Over the next month or so we’ll explore to clarify your values and be mindful of them as a resource in all aspects of your life, personal and professional. I look forward to explore this topic with you and invite your comments to enrich this exploration.