the true value of values

I try and avoid the ‘latest thing’ and not get sucked in to fashionable hype – hence my deliberate avoidance of the word ‘Resilience’ this year (it's like the GDPR over use of coaching).  Values come up time and time again in self-development circles but I still wanted to address them because they are not being talked about because they are the latest trend.  They are the fundamental underpinning to you and your life and knowing what they are and how to meet them is key to your success.

Values represent your core beliefs.  They are the foundation from which everything else is built and what help you navigate you forward in life.  When used effectively they can connect you to what really matters and drive you towards what makes you happy.  When not understood or attended to they can de-motivate you, hold you back and even cause significant stress and emotional discomfort.

Some believe your value system is set by the time you are six years old but in reality, I see them develop and change over time so it is important to keep checking back in on them, as a reminder and sanity check if nothing else.

To demonstrate the power of values, I thought I would share a recent experience of mine in my career.

For years my values were:

  • Accomplishment/Achievement
  • Autonomy
  • Competence and Expertise
  • Integrity/Frankness
  • Recognition

Some I were more comfortable to admit I had than others but they were what they were.  These values drove me in my previous IT career and they served me well.  The long hours and take no prisoners approach required to be a successful woman in IT and in a high-pressure marketing agency slotted right in to my achievement and autonomy values.  As the successes came, my competence and expertise values were being fed and the recognition duly came in the form of financial reward, job title and reports.  Integrity was a hard one to satisfy but it kept me on the straight and narrow in many a hard situation and made the tough conversations that no one wanted to hear worth the pain.

I got to where I wanted to get and as I hit the ceiling where I was it was time to think about my next steps.  But I couldn’t.  I was frozen.  I was exhausted, I was miserable, I was lonely and unhealthy.  And weirdly I had lost my confidence in my own ability.  Even though I had achieved everything my achievement value wanted, I felt like a failure.  The things I thought I wanted were not enjoyable once I got them.  I was actually finding pleasure in areas I hadn’t before but couldn’t make the time for them in amongst the high stress responsibility I had earned, which made me feel angry and frustrated and was affectively the people around me.

So, I got help.  I worked on my core beliefs and got a picture of what the values I had developed were, where they came from and how they were serving me.  And then what they had morphed in to and how they were/weren’t being met.

My new value structure was:

  • Accomplishment/Achievement
  • Relationships/Generosity/Empathy
  • Boldness/Courage/Authenticity/Integrity
  • Health/Growth
  • Competence/Expertise

My new values of relationships, health and growth had snuck in without me realising it and others had been built on and were now dragging me down to the point where I couldn’t enjoy anything I was doing in my previously constructed life.

These realisations were monumentally influential for me and helped me find and shape a new career in coaching that changed my life, a new way of living that prioritised the people in my life and a new level of vulnerability and humility that opened my doors to all manner of new joys.

Don’t get me wrong it didn’t happen overnight and it is a still a work in progress – it takes time to figure this stuff out then work out what it means for you, but the journey has been so full of learnings and rich experiences and I have never looked back….except to check in when that achievement driver gets a little out of control to remind myself of what damage it can cause to me and those around me when it is over played.

Stay tuned to my Insta and FB this month for some self-coaching tips around how to identify your values and what to do with them once you have them.  And if you fancy some help in working this stuff out, please do get in touch.

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