In a time of change, new issues keep arising all the time. If we are not careful it is easy to become distracted. Then our life becomes a game of snakes and ladders as we are jerked about by whatever comes along.
But if we take the time to find our values then we give ourselves focus. We know which issues matter to us and which to ignore. And for those issues that matter, our values show us how to respond.
By finding our values we learn to ignore the snakes and climb faster up the ladders.
To find your values, follow these three simple steps:
- Think back to a time when you felt fully absorbed in your work. You lost track of time, felt fully alive. You were in flow, operating at your maximum potential, doing what you are here to do. Identify between one and three occasions.
- For each situation, ask yourself what values you were upholding in that moment. What values were you standing up for, taking action in support of? There may be more than one. Write them all down.
If you find it difficult to identify the values you were standing for, try thinking of times when you stood up against something. What did you stand against? What values are the opposite of that?
Working on this with a trusted friend who asks you open questions can help to tease out and clarify your thinking: “Why? What do you mean? Can you give an example?” It will take about 10 to 15 minutes for each person to complete the exercise.
- You now almost certainly have a list of more than three values. Group, merge, and combine them until you have distilled them down to your three core values. This might take a couple of hours, but the more effort you put in now, the more sure you will be of the results and the greater returns you will obtain in future. (For a more comprehensive assessment, you can also include your answers from Chapter 4.)
Knowing your values and your purpose is essential to achieving your aims in an uncertain world.
If an issue isn’t relevant to your values then ignore it: it is someone else’s fight. If it does matter to you then your values and purpose bring focus to the way you respond.
What three values are you standing for when you find yourself in flow, operating at your maximum potential, doing what you are here to do?
Adapted from Inner Leadership.