When we are guided by values our life is easier.
Do you know what your values are and is your life guided by them?
Values are an important guide on your journey through life. They guide your direction, and your behaviour stems from them. When we are guided by values our life is easier. And when we are in conflict with them we feel upset, frustrated and perhaps even angry.
What are values?
Values are what you want to stand for deep in your heart*. Answering these questions will help you discover what yours are:
- What do you want your life to be about?
- What sort of things do you most want to do?
- What type of person do you most want to be?
- How do you want to be in your relationships with others?
- What would you like to be remembered for by the people you love?
How do values work?
A value is like a lighthouse seen in the distance. It guides you through your journey in life, in good times as well as in challenging and difficult times.
Why are they important?
Values help you to pursue what matters to you; they aren’t goals. Rather, they are the personal choices you make about the direction of your life. (They are not about what you should, must or have to do.) Clarity about your values also gives you pointers to your goals and the actions that will help you move in your chosen direction. Values bring vitality and a sense of purpose to life.
Having clarity about your values means that you know where you are going and don’t have to keep checking you are on course. However, having clear values doesn’t ensure a straight path through life. Often you may need to change direction to get back to your values.
Values are usually stable, yet may change over time to reflect your achievements. Noticing your values change in this way represents small steps taken regarding the overall direction you have chosen. So, it’s important to stay in touch with your values, so as to support your ‘valued’ direction.
What values aren’t
Goals are way-markers along your chosen path. They can be achieved. You can tick them off and identify what you have achieved. Values, however, are behaviours we believe are important. So, you can’t achieve a value; rather you live using your values as a guide.
Individuals and teams who identify their values reap many benefits:
- Individuals who understand their values gain insight into the behaviours that support them. This includes, for example, how they may vote, make consumer choices or choose an occupation.
- Behaviours that are consistent with values help keep us going in our chosen direction. And behaving consistently builds trust.
- Behaviours aligned to values develop individuals’ well-being
Exercises to help people understand their values
- How to help individuals identify their values
Jump ahead to your 80th birthday party. All your friends and family, colleagues, and loved ones are there. It’s a good turn-out – imagine that all the people you have ever cared about are able to attend. Now the cake arrives. After you blow out your 80 candles everyone takes turns to talk about your personal qualities and key strengths.
Your task is this: what three things you would most want these people to say about the kind of person you have been in life? Choose whatever you want them to say about your personal qualities and key strengths. And remember: it’s your imaginary party, so please feel free to highlight what you would really want to hear people say about you on your Big Day.
- How to help a team identify and share their values
Before working with a team check that everyone agrees to share their top three values with each other. Start by using the exercise above, so everyone has a chance to identify their own values. Now, pair everyone up. Each partner then gets a turn at introducing the other partner – name and what job they do – and then tells everyone what the three things are that their partner would most want people to say at their 80th birthday party.
What do values look like when they have been identified?
The example below comes from an ACT coaching session with Eva. Eva is a project manager with a large UK insurance company. Her top three values are:
- Being a loving and caring wife and mother
- Being healthy, mentally and physically
- Being a valued team member
* Adapted from: Harris, R (2008)The Happiness Trap (Based on ACT: A revolutionary mindfulness-based programme for overcoming stress, anxiety and depression), Robinson
Russ is very generous with materials. You can find some more here: http://www.actmindfully.com.au/
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We have experience in developing senior managers and their team members – both on an individual and team level – so they can develop practical approaches that encourage positive, constructive behaviour. This, in turn, leads to the development of positive beliefs and values. We are ready work with you, to help you get the best out of your people.
Here are some examples of approaches that can be used and tailored to your individual needs:
- Certified ACT practioner
- Support if you are being bullied, or have a member of your organisation who has made a bullying complaint
- Certified Mediation practioner, to address workplace conflict,
- Personal development activities
- Individual and group coaching…Coaching – a powerful way of developing people
- Psychometric assessment, which can identify strengths as well as derailing behaviours and also include 360 degree feedback
- Structured module for understanding the psychological contracts in your organisation, both at an individual or team level
- Straight Talking: …Straight Talking create change through conversations
- Special projects, secondments and assignments