GET REAL

Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Values help us stay on track.

Identifying your values is a powerful tool as you strive to reach your goals and be the person and leader you want to be. Once you identify your core values, you can use those values to help you make sound decisions about your priorities and direction in your work and life, to ensure that you’re being true to what you believe is essential.

In my experience, when we behave in a way that is true to—or goes against—our core values we’re generally alerted by our own gut-level reaction. Although at different times in our lives we may not always seek or listen to the messages we’re sending ourselves! Say your personal values include: family; honesty; respect; adventure; trust; spirituality; and authenticity. Revisiting your values when you find yourself feeling unfulfilled, may validate and help you realize that your life has been particularly busy or stressful with responsibility and you’re lacking adventure, family time, or spiritual practice.

If you’re interested in establishing a set of values, it’s generally a good idea to aim for a list of about 5-10 top values that are most important to you today, that you believe strongly in, and that you feel well-define who you are. Whether you’re identifying values as an individual, work team, organization, or family, a concise list of values will serve you in aligning your priorities, decision-making, relationships, and/or services. This exercise can take a day or weeks as you carefully narrow down your list from the hundreds of values you might find published or think of. Here’s a tip that may help. You may find that some of the values you identify, naturally combine. For instance, if you value community, generosity, caring, and support, you might say that “service to others” is one of your top values.

About 10 years ago, I worked with a great coach—Jim Norman out of TX—who helped me create what I’ve identified as my five core values for my business. Here they are: Truth, Discretion, Collaboration, Flexibility, and Balance. Through his recommendation, I’ve also published and defined them on my site, to increase and share my commitment to them. Every once and a while, I review them and so far I’ve not felt a need to shift them. But keep in mind, that although values tend to be fairly stable some of your values may naturally change or shift priority as you move through life.

The efforts you make to identify your personal values and align your actions with them will undoubtedly serve you—and others—well as you’re navigating through your work and life.

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