Accountability --- that is my main value in life. Why can’t anything in my life be cool and exciting! My core value is accountability, not empathy or adventure, peace or wealth --- it’s accountability. That is not to say that I do not have other values, I do; faith, family, and wisdom are other important values to me. These all come under the accountability umbrella; they are secondary to accountability.
You might be thinking, “What are values, and why are they so important to Maryanne?” Well, let me tell you! The Oxford dictionary shares this definition of value: a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life.
I say that values are the beliefs and opinions we use to guide the choices, decisions, and directions taken in our lives. They can be a guide to hold us accountable (or maybe this is just my way of thinking because my value is accountability!) and keep us focused, or on a specific track. Understanding our core value(s) gives us a better understanding of ourselves, why we do certain things, and why we react and/or respond in specific ways.
Now you might be thinking, “What are my values? How do I determine what they are?” I think the best way to start is with a value word list. The one that Henrieta and I use in our workshops is by Brene’ Brown, and can be found here: https://daretolead.brenebrown.com/workbook-art-pics-glossary/ under “List of Values”. There are many other lists available on the internet as well.
Look the list over, and highlight any words that stand out or shine for you. Don’t try to get too deep - just go through quickly and highlight the words that speak to you. Now, take a look at those highlighted words, and think about what the word means to you. Does it have a specific strong or important association for you? Next, think about key times in your life; such as when you have felt the happiest, when you have had to make a difficult decision, when you have been the most at peace, when you have been most successful, and when you have been the most stressed. Then see what value words connect with those key times.
I like to use mind mapping to show the relationship between the times and words (If you want more information on mind mapping, email Henrieta or myself, we would love to walk you through it). Take a big piece of paper and lots of colored pencils and/or markers, and write a word or phrase for each situation above. Now with each of the above situations in mind, connect value words that you highlighted. When you are done, look at the word or words that you used most often. It is surprising to see what stands out!
How many values should we have? That is up for discussion. Some schools of thought say just one or two, others say it should be between three and seven. I am sure others say even more. I feel keeping it simple is better, that there are usually one or two truly key values that guide us. I am of the belief that if we really think about our values, most connect to others in some way. As I said previously, for me my value is Accountability. Faith, Family, Wisdom, and Service to others are also extremely important to me, but when I really processed everything, these easily fit under accountability.
To me, knowing and understanding our values is a superpower! It is another piece of the wonderful puzzle that is us. Knowing our values is another type of lens to see ourselves through. This lens that gives us some self-perspective, another way to realize the amazing person that we were created to be.
Do you agree with me about values, are they important to you? Do you already know what your values are? Might they change throughout our lives?