When I first heard someone talk about values, I thought they were talking about things like “don’t steal” or “treat others the way you want to be treated.” I learned that values are the underlying aspirations and intentions we have for and about ourselves. A value could be a thirst for learning, a strong desire to create, or a yen for adventure. Our values are who we are, at our core, right here, right now—and they guide our behavior.
At Blanchard we’ve learned that leaders benefit from identifying and clarifying their values because—consciously or unconsciously—they serve as a motivating force, both professionally and personally. We’ve also learned that if leaders are willing to bravely share their values with their team, it not only allows people to better understand what makes the leader tick, but also bonds the whole group closer together.
How might you identify and clarify your own values? Here are a couple of ways:
Do a little exploration. An internet search will uncover various lists of identified values. Read through a few of them to produce your own list of ten values that really resonate with you. Then go through your list, pare it down to your top five values, and rank them in order of importance.
Open up to possibilities. Write your answer to these questions:
- If money weren’t an object, how would I spend my time or use my talents?
- Other than money, what gets me out of bed every morning?
As you write, try not to allow self-limiting beliefs or thoughts to restrict your answers. When you are finished answering the questions, go back and read what you wrote. As you do, pick out the values within your answers. Having a list of values nearby can help.
Pay attention to absorption. Ever find yourself completely absorbed in an activity, where you’ve lost all track of time? You look at the clock and can’t believe you’ve been doing it for hours. Often when we find ourselves completely engrossed in something, it means we are living one or more of our values. When this happens, stop and take note of what you are doing to see what values may be in play.
Why bother with all this? Because whether you are conscious of them or not, your values strongly influence how you show up in the world. Identifying your values allows you to gauge whether or not you are living your life in line with them. When your values and the way you live your life are in harmony, you are in the flow versus fighting to swim upstream. You are being true to yourself and to who you are. And there’s no better feeling than that.
About the Author
Joanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.