The Value of Values

Identifying core values has been a more frequent theme in my coaching and facilitation work recently. In the last couple of weeks I’ve coached clients who want to re-visit their values and I ran a workshop just today about how to break through the barriers to outstanding success, where again we identified the participants’ values as part of the process.

So here are my thoughts on what values are, how they support us, and why they are so important

What are values?

For me, values are usually one word, abstract concepts. They describe who we are and what is important to us rather than who we think we should be. We are naturally drawn to them and eager to express them. They don’t need any effort because they are intrinsic to who we are and when we live our lives in alignment with our values we are creating the environment that supports us to be the best we can be. Michael Angier described identifying values as being like developing a photograph in a darkroom. They are already imprinted and just need to be revealed.

How do they support us?

Clear values help us…

  • Understand who we are and what we stand for
  • Choose how we spend our time and who with
  • Determine whether our actions are “right” or “wrong”
  • Notice when we are going off course
  • Make good decisions
  • Stay motivated and inspired

Why are they so important?

Clear values are important because they are the only sustainable basis for goal setting. The reason so many goals require us to drive ourselves hard to accomplish them is they are not aligned with our values. We can all discipline ourselves to take actions towards goals for a limited period of time but it’s hard to keep up in the longer term or when the going gets tough. Any achievements will be also be short lived and unfulfilling. Compare that with identifying your values and then setting a goal for each one. Getting to work on those goals is far more likely to take less effort and produce lasting and meaningful outcomes.

Being clear on our values and expressing them in our lives, gives us a sense of True North. They help us focus on the compass rather than the clock.

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