Over many years now I’ve been fascinated when working with clients and others to establish their personal (or even their Company) values. It would seem that the first response, as it was with me when I remember doing exercises to establish values when working in the corporate arena, is that the ‘go to place’ is to the ones we feel we ‘should’ have………Honesty, Integrity, Respect, Loyalty…those ones that come first to mind, and whilst I’m not suggesting that all of those aren’t wonderful values to have, I would question, “do they really motivate you, excite you, do you feel connected to them and most importantly, do you honestly believe you can live by them? Not sometimes, not when things are going well, but always, all ways!
Because Values, when they are being enacted, are not the words, they are the actions, and whilst companies I’ve worked with have invested a lot of time and good money with organisations who have come up with their values for them, when I speak with their teams or employees, it is quite clear that even if they can quote them by rote, they don’t really know what they mean. They can’t share with me how they demonstrate living those values, how they practice them in the workplace, and why they are important.
So in establishing values there comes with it some ownership, a belief in them, a desire to live by them – they become the guiding principles. And, when we truly know our values, we can use them in so many different ways. In decision-making, in checking in on whether we are on track, whether we are in line with our thoughts and feelings.
I do remember many years ago when I was responsible for managing people believing that one of my values was equality – I felt passionate about equality. And yet when I dug really deep I realised that wasn’t the real crux underneath it all for me, because I found that there were so many situations where I wasn’t able to treat everyone equally – people may have similar roles however did they put in the same amount of effort? Someone else may work long hours, yet were they effective? Whereas when I hit on what was really underlying what I wanted to achieve, I came up with Fairness…….and that is to this day my main core value, because I always have the ability to check in and ask myself if I believe my actions are fair. I often see that with people in their parenting, they make statements like “but I treat them all equally” when actually that’s the last thing our children want. They want to be treated fairly, because they all have different requirements and operate differently. So when they say to me “I think I treat my children equally” I will say “do you feel you treat then fairly?”
And I see change in almost their energetic thought pattern, and they feel more empowered to perhaps look for ways that feel fair.
So I really encourage people to explore their values. In the workshops I’ve run often times couples will come along and they will ask the question whether it is important that they share the same values. My answer is that no, it isn’t. What is most important is the we absolutely respect the other persons values, that we help them to live by those values and that we expect the same of ourselves, and whilst it’s great to have aligned values, they are definitely not required to be the same.
When working with Companies we come to consensus, so that everyone feels they have input, feels listened to, their ideas are tabled, and then we go through a process of coming up with the consensus that all agree to, so that they can start to action these values by using them in decision making and to ensure that they continue to promote & demonstrate the values of that organisation.
With individuals they will often make the comment that once they truly understand their values they also start to understand themselves better. They get more of a handle on what makes them tick and in doing so feel far more confident to quietly stand up for themselves and their beliefs. This creates a sense of empowerment and self-confidence that is wonderful to see.
So I encourage those reading this article to take the time to really explore your values as then you are able bring them into your life in a way that is deeply rewarding.
For those interested in understanding their values better, the next Ruby Cubes Exploring your Values Workshop is on the 4th of July. Contact us for more information.