How to Create Your Own Powerful List of Values Part I, a Fundamental of Leadership.

As an executive health and wellness coach whose methodology includes identifying and understanding one’s core values, strengths and purpose, I thought why not write about the subject of values.  The idea of honoring and trusting one’s values and using them as a personal rudder, steering oneself in the right direction day in and day out is not a new fundamental of leadership; however, like any good fundamental, successful people go back to them during times of imbalance. Many of the techniques and exercises below are as a result of my training with Adler Learning International.

Today is Part I of a 3 part series on How to Create Your Own Powerful List of Values that are meaningful to you, and only you.  If you do the work and complete all the exercises, you will have created that indestructible rudder all good leaders lean on for sustained success.

Before you begin doing this important work, I want to acknowledge you for your commitment and courage in becoming your best self, enjoy!

What are values?

Values are about what turns your crank: what’s important and what’s not. Values are abstract, not concrete.  By the way, money is not a value.  If you believe that you value money, then ask yourself: what will you have when you have money? what does money give you?  Money could mean many things: security, freedom of choice, independence.

Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, eloquently describes values in the following way:

This sense of rightness or wrongness deep in the body is part of a steady background flow of feeling that continues throughout the day…Thought and feeling are inextricably woven together.

Such fleeting feelings are typically subtle, but important.  Not that gut feelings outweigh the facts – but it should be weighed in with the facts.  Attunement to feelings offers us crucial information for navigating through life.  This sense of ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ signals that what we are doing either does or does not fit our preferences, guiding values, and life wisdom.

Personal values are not lofty abstractions, but intimate credos that we may never quite articulate in words so much as feel.  Our values translate into what has emotional power or resonance for us, whether negative or positive.

If there is a discrepancy between action and value, the result will be uneasiness in the form of guilt and shame, deep thoughts or nagging second thoughts, queasiness or remorse, and the like.  Such uneasiness acts as an emotional drag, stirring feelings that can hinder or sabotage our efforts.  Choices made in keeping with this inner rudder, on the other hand, are energizing.

Exercise Around Creating a List of Values Using Life Moments

One of the greatest methods of finding what particular values have the greatest meaning is to look back at specific moments in life.

Before you begin the exercise, I suggest reviewing Goleman’s explanation on values again until you are comfortable with it.  Second, block out about an hour or so on your schedule when you find you are at your creative best.  Perhaps its early on a weekend morning, or late at night when all is quiet, whatever works best for you.  It’s important to be in a peaceful frame of mind and in a quiet area.

Now assuming you are in a good place, physically relaxed, mentally focused and spiritually calm, complete the following exercise:

  1. Think about a specific moment in your life when you felt deeply engaged or fulfilled (a peak moment.)  What was going on? What made this moment special?  What values were you honoring in this moment?  Now, repeat this for 3 to 5 more peak moments to flush out some more values, include both professional and personal moments, go as far back as grade school, high school, your first job, your first love, sports, music,hobbies etc…
  2. Reflect on a recent experience of intense frustration or anger.  What were the circumstances? How did you feel?  Was there a value being violated or suppressed? Now, repeat this for one more experience, maybe two, being mindful that the purpose of going there is to flush out a value or two that wasn’t being honored.
  3. Once you’ve met the basic requirements for living, what else do you need to have in your life to feel whole and fully alive?
  4. When I have it “____________” life is magical!  Please fill in the blank with as many words that come to mind, have fun, go crazy!

Congratulations, you have completed Part I and off to a great start!

Part II is an exercise that will add to your list by using, you guessed it, a Values List.  I know, I can hear you asking “Rob, why not just pick from the list to begin with?,”  good question!

The reason I encourage you to create your initial list with the peak moment method is because we are trying to get those values that have an emotional connection, generally speaking, those are the ones with the most meaning and the very ones that will help create that super strong rudder.

As always, I invite you to share your successes, questions and comments.  And given the importance of this exercise, I encourage you to reach out to me directly using the Contact Window, I am here to help you be successful!

We become what we think about!


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