The value of values
I’ve been on my NLP Practitioner course this week. My head is very full and I’m getting my brain round Metaprograms, Complex Equivalents, Anchors and Chunking. I guess they don’t call it Neuro Linguistic Programming for nothing. But for all the fancy headers, it really is great to explore how communication and language specifically can have such a huge impact on our worlds – internal and external. No doubt as my course progresses, and my understanding and utilisation increase, I’ll be able to dedicate more space to the glorious subject of communication. (Well, I am a Gemini after all, and my Mercurial spirit is drawn to these squiggles on a page, and words that find passage from our brains to the outside world by way of our mouths.)
But I digress because what I wanted to cover a little about today was the subject of values, which not surprisingly is a subject we also cover in this course. As a coach, the subject of values resonates with me enormously. I love helping my clients to become more in touch with the values that they are aware of, and uncover their less obvious values - it is all part of their journey.
Basically values are who you really are. They either attract or deter us and pretty much all our decisions are based on values – though we aren’t always aware of them on a conscious level. They can be expressed in our choices, from the partners we have, to the food we buy, to the moral compasses we lead our lives by. We don’t always know them because other factors can drive our behaviours such as our needs or old issues we haven’t settled. And values can change as we grow and shift. There are no set values that we should all adopt, because fundamentally they are personal. Though we can also see that culturally, a society can swing from one set of values to another over time and depending on circumstances.
It is these different value systems that contribute to making us all unique – we don’t all think the same (and wouldn’t life be boring if we did?) Our different values are what motivate and energise us, what shape our actions. And it’s why we do what we do. But how often do we actually get to sit down and really think about what is important to us? Can you name your top five or 10 values? When you are ‘in’ those values, engaged with them, you’ll probably find that you feel like yourself; you feel energised, and things are flowing well for you. Yet more often than not, we are not engaged with the activities, jobs or relationships that resonate well with our values. We’re bogged down with life and the routine of our existence.
“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.” Ayn Rand
The ideal is to identify your values – all of them, then orientate your life around those values. That can be a long process but if you don’t really know what’s important to you, how can you begin?
So, how to get to those values?
Start by writing down any that come to mind straight away. (E.g. compassion, adventure, loyalty, growth etc.)
If nothing comes to mind, see if a list of values can prompt you. As you look at the words on the list, feel what really resonates with you; be truthful, even if you think it’s silly or contradicts the life you’re leading now. What do you really value? What do you really love to do with your time?
Adventure, Risk, Thrill, Danger, Speculation, Dare, Gamble
Endeavour, Quest, Experiment, Exhilaration, Venture, The unknown
Beauty, Grace, Refinement, Elegance, Attractiveness, Loveliness, Radiance, Magnificence, Gloriousness
Taste, To Catalyze, Impact, Move forward, Touch, Turn on, Free others
Coach, Spark, Encourage, Influence, Stimulate, Energize, Alter
To Contribute, Serve, Improve, Augment, Assist, Endow, Strengthen
Facilitate, Minister to, Grant, Provide, Foster,
To Create, Design, Invent, Synthesize, Imagination, Ingenuity, Originality,
Conceive, Plan, Build, Perfect, Assemble, Inspire
To Discover, Learn, Detect, Perceive, Locate, Realize, Uncover
Discern, Distinguish, Observe, To Feel, Emote, To Experience, Sense
To glow, To Feel Good, Be with, Energy flow, In touch with, Sensations
To Lead, Guide, Inspire, Influence, Cause, Arouse,
Enlist, Reign, Govern, Rule, Persuade, Encourage, Model, Mastery, Expert, Rule field, Adept, Dominate field, Superiority, Primacy
Pre-eminence, Greatest, Best, Outdo, Set standards, Excellence
Pleasure, Have fun, Be Hedonistic, Sex, Sensual, Bliss, Be amused
Be entertained, Play games, Sports,
To Relate, Be connected, Family, To unite, Part of community
To nurture, Be linked, Be bonded, Be integrated, Be with, Be Sensitive
Tenderness, Touch, Perceive, Be present, Empathize, Support, Respond, Show compassion, Be Spiritual, Be aware, Be accepting, Be awake, Relate with God, Devoting, Holy, Honouring, Be passionate, Religious
Teach, Educate, Instruct, Enlighten, Inform, Prepare, Edify, Prime, Uplift, Explain,
To Win, Prevail, Accomplish, Attain, Score, Acquire, Win over, Triumph, Predominate
(List originated from Coach U’s Tru Values program.)
Choose perhaps 10 or so that ring true for you, then see if you can narrow and rank that list to 4 or 5.
Another way is to think of some people whom you admire and respect. They could be famous, or someone you know closer to home. What is it about them that you admire? What are their qualities? Just write down immediately what comes to mind and try not to over-think. Do you notice any qualities that overlap, any commonalities? Do these resonate with you on a deep level, instinctively?
So now you have your 4-5 values, the things that make you tick – what next? You honour them. Sounds simple but if you stand in a place of integrity and you’ve been true in identifying those values – at least what matters to you now – then it’s time to start to looking at your life to see if you are being true to those values.
This is where goals come in. If you can align your goals to fulfilling your values, you’re on to living a rich and fulfilling life. Goals are a whole other subject but I hope you get the general idea here. Invest some time in you – take a moment to explore who you are and you can begin to move towards where you really want to be.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” ― Mahatma Gandhi