Live according to your values, then you are free.René Esteban Jiménez
Being free sounds tempting. And by freedom, I mean being free inside.
I share Jimenez’s opinion: knowing your values and really living by them help.
But what are values anyway and what influence do they have?
Values, or value systems, are beliefs, attitudes, virtues, and social skills. They generate prioritized thinking, feeling and acting.
Freely and simply translated:
They represent everything that is important to you in life. And influence your thoughts, feelings and actions. Ideally, at least.
If we take a closer look, it is still exciting to understand how value concepts are created. And how individual they are:
- From the basic motives – these are related to the character with which we are born
- From the motives – these are related to the personality that we develop during our life
- From the objectives – these are related to the roles we take on
- From the challenges – these are related to the situations we have experienced and mastered
As you can see, the whole thing is multifaceted, complex and influences each other.
And it changes throughout a lifetime and due to different life situations and challenges.
At this point I would like to say that based on the experiences I have had in my coaching and self-awareness, values flush up what is basically already there.
The terminology changes as new references emerge, but the needs behind them take hold.
Here is an example:
One of my values is family. This one has actually always been there. Not just since I became a mom. It was then called friendship, togetherness, or perhaps community in my rebellious teenage years. And in my young adulthood it was called partnership or harmony.
I can think that through with all my values like that. My values have always been there like this or disguised in other words.
If you already know your values, experiment with them. And see if you feel the same way. I’m eager to hear your feedback.
Why is it important to know your values?
If you think that values are or have to be something big or abstract, let me tell you: they are not.
- Because they are small and delicate and can be a delicate and also strong companion for us in everyday life. They are our foundation.
- Values align us and give us orientation in everyday life. Especially when things get stressful and we fall back into old patterns of behavior and thinking.
- They are an anchor and give us security, focus and clarity. They help us prioritize, make decisions, but also stand up for ourselves.
- Behind our values lie needs. It is by aligning ourselves with it that we first do ourselves justice. They reflect our identity.
- Values can also help us achieve goals and underpin our vision and mission.
This is exactly why identifying or verifying values are an important part of my coaching sessions.
It is exciting to observe how my coachees deal with this.
- Those looking at their values for the first time were initially impressed and also a little intimidated. They quickly realized that it’s not that hard to identify their values and is even incredibly powerful to recognize them (eyes shining!).
- Those who had already found their values for themselves could check and adjust them again with my method. Because already another term sometimes helps to create closeness and feasibility (astonished eyes!).
- Those who believe that there must be differences between private and professional, I must unfortunately disappoint. It is not so. Authenticity and balance in life imply equal values for all areas of life (big eyes!).
- It is also important to me that values are suitable for everyday use. By this I mean that after the elaboration my coachees know exactly HOW to integrate it into everyday life and then really live it.
If you know your values, you know yourself.
Because awareness of one’s values are a facet of ‘knowing oneself’.
And only when you know yourself, you can lead yourself. I call this Reflected Leadership.
What do I mean by that? The better we know ourselves, the better we can control our thoughts and actions. By this I do not mean control, but awareness.
Values help us to do this because they represent our inner convictions and principles, according to which we ideally align our lives.
The more consciously we do this, the better. Because then we switch from autopilot to self-determination.
So on the one hand, values guide action. On the other hand, actions represent our values.
They create identity. And they describe our identity.
Values thus become the basis for authenticity.
They give us clear direction and help us make decisions that are consistent with our beliefs and goals. In this way, they also contribute to an authentic life, as we remain true to ourselves and live our own ideas and values.
Put another way: If you know what you want, you can better make your point.
And then it becomes more relaxed. Most of the time, at least. And sometimes only with some practice.
A 2019 study published in the journal ,,Personality and Social Psychology Review” showed that living by one’s values is an important influencer of our well-being and mental health.
A 2013 study from the University of Illinois at Chicago showed that living by one’s values and beliefs leads to higher self-esteem and life satisfaction.
Studies are convenient, but let’s face it, if you listen to yourself, you know it’s true. Simply put, it feels right when you act on your values and stand up for yourself. Or not?
How you find your values now?
There are very many methods for this.
These differ first of all in whether you find your values for yourself alone, whether you involve your environment and whether you are accompanied by experts.
I recommend a combination. At least, that’s how I approach my coachees. Because different perspectives can also reveal blind spots. And this happens again and again with my method.
In a self-analysis you ask yourself questions and develop 3-5 core values from them. This will give you a good first estimate of your values. One of the questions might be: What is important to me in life? What attributes describe me? What do I want more of in my life?
In an external survey of your environment, you can use similar questions to deduce what your friends and acquaintances or people who frequently experience you would answer. This is where it gets exciting, as the first blind spots are revealed. Realization: How do others perceive me?!
In an accompaniment by a coach or other expert, your values are worked out in co-creation. The advantage of this is that you don’t just cook in your own juices, but get to the core by questioning and challenging.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get to the core on your own. In my experience, this only works if you are very reflective and already know your own traps.
What do I mean by that specifically? It is important that you work out values that are not of the kind you would like to be and what you would like to represent, but values that you really live. Or want to bring more back into your life.
In my coaching sessions, this is exactly what I experience again and again.
If you already know your values, please check them. Is this really you?
How can values shape family life?
Values in general can have a positive effect on our interpersonal relationships.
If we are aware of them and act according to our values, we can better understand our fellow human beings, act more empathetically and respectfully.
In other words: If I know myself well, I understand others better. It broadens my view of my world and thus of my fellow human beings.
So it’s about seeing yourself first and thus seeing others better. In their personality. In their values. This gives goodwill and creates calm. It gives inner peace.
Because that way I can see that a lot of things have nothing to do with me at all. And I don’t have to relate it to me either. Allowing it to stay where it belongs. It really brings peace of mind.
The same is true in reverse. Values also help others understand why we do something.
Perfect, therefore, also just for a family. And any kind of community.
We have developed our values together in the family. This already works well with small children.
The core question was: What is important to you in the family and in togetherness? What makes us a we?
Each individual contributed something. And we discussed what we specifically mean by that. So it’s a behavioral description. This was more accessible for children. And for adults too.
All that was right for everyone, we visualized in the process: Painted, drawn and written. All.
The We poster hangs on our kitchen door. Each person passes by it several times a day. A good anchor 😉
In everyday life, it helps to remember. But also to remind the other people that just one value is not respected. A value that was once important to all of us and that we want to stand up for.
Doesn’t always work, but more and more often. It helps us strengthen our community. Even if things don’t go so well.
And remember, even when you’re not speaking, you’re communicating. We also pass on our values unspoken to our children.
That’s why it’s so important to be aware of what makes you tick, so you can understand what’s going on inside your kids.
Are you living your values in all areas of your life? And how can you integrate your values even more into your family life or professional life?
The importance of values in everyday professional life – especially in leadership
There are opinions out there that we have different values in our personal and professional lives. I have to say: No. Item.
Authentic living also involves our values taking place in all areas of life. Equal are.
And if we check that very carefully, then that’s the way it is, or to put it another way: that feels right.
I once started with a coachee who had already worked through her values before we started working together. Separate for work and private. And yes, there were overlaps or equal mentions. Nevertheless: She was allowed to check my attitude for herself and was given the task of defining values for her life – not separated according to areas of life. And of course it worked. She looked at me and said, “That feels really good right now.”
Yes, because it is authentic.
To what extent do values play a role in our everyday professional lives?
This question is superfluous with the above.
How about living your values in all areas of your life? That sounds like consonance, doesn’t it? That does sound like authenticity. That sounds like balance.
We always carry our identity around with us. And should live it up.
What does that mean for you as a leader?
Be aware of your own values. And what these mean concretely in everyday life.
Check if you are already living your values. Ideally, this is the case.
It is not always so? Then read on. Below I have written a section on this.
Check if your values fit with the company values. Ideally, this is the case.
It is not so? We’re not going to open that can of worms now.
Let’s continue to think about your employees.
Do you know their values? Do you know what’s important to them?
If so: Good, because then you can handle it.
If no: What does it take for them to feel and know that this space is there. Room for ‘being allowed to be who you are’ – and I’m not talking about putting your feet up on the table, burping at a business lunch, or yelling around in a meeting. I call that unprofessional and unreflective authenticity.
I’m talking about allowing the things that are really important to you to be there. And to deal with it openly. And what it means in the team structure.
Your employees’ values don’t match yours? We won’t open that barrel either.
What does this all mean for your recruiting?
Find people who have similar or the same values. That helps in the togetherness. This helps to run in the same direction.
Ask questions in the conversation that will give you clarity on this. You could do that directly or indirectly.
I expect managers to know their values. So definitely the question may come directly here. Always flanked by the question of how the respective value shows itself concretely in everyday life.
Otherwise, of course, situational questions or the very questions that you ask yourself during the values survey help. See above for self-referral.
Oh, and of course listening carefully always helps for the assessment.
Challenges in the implementation of values
Even if you are clear about what values you want to live by, implementing and integrating those values can be somewhat challenging.
I would like to elaborate on the following reasons:
- Inner conflicts: Sometimes our values can be in conflict with each other. The best example: you have the values of family and self-determination. The latter may include topics such as career. If you then have to decide situationally, this can lead to an inner conflict, since both values are important to you.
- External influences: Our surroundings and social environment can influence us. This can lead us to act against our own values.
- Lack of clarity: Sometimes we have not clearly defined our values. By that I mean that you described each value again specifically for you.
- Convenience: Sometimes it is easier to adapt to external circumstances or to take the path of least resistance instead of standing up for our own values and actively implementing them.
- Impulsivity: If we are not in a good state of mind, we may react impulsively – then we like to violate our values or those of others. Impulsive reactions arise especially when we do not know each other well. More about this elsewhere.
This is how you manage to integrate your values into everyday life!
These are just a few suggestions on my part, which also relate specifically to the above challenges. Think about what concerns you and use only one of the suggestions for you first.
- Prioritize: If you want to better integrate your values into everyday life, it’s important to prioritize them. Get clear about which value comes before which other for you. This is a VERY difficult exercise. However, it helps you to defend the value in case of doubt or conflict situations.
- Self-reflection: Do you know your preventers? What’s stopping you from integrating your values? Especially when it comes to the topics ‘expectations of others’ or ‘own beliefs’. Continued self-reflection can help us become aware of what is holding us back and what new thought patterns are needed for compliance.
- Concretization: To better implement our values in everyday life, it is important to define them clearly and to be aware of what they mean to us. By this I mean describing values – ideally in the form of actions. Because then it becomes quite practical.
- Challenging ourselves: To better implement our values in everyday life, we sometimes have to challenge ourselves and step out of our comfort zone. Putting your values into practice will sometimes be uncomfortable or even difficult, but it’s worth it in the long run because they pay into your desired life.
- Making decisions consciously: To do this, it helps if we take time to make decisions and ask ourselves whether these decisions are in line with our values.
And now you!
You know your values?
Good! When was it that you violated one of your values? Today? Yesterday?
We do that far too often, I think.
You don’t know your values?
You probably violated one of your values when you said or did something that didn’t feel good even at that moment. When you blamed yourself later. Or stuck in a mental merry-go-round. Freely according to the motto: Afterwards you are always smarter.
How does it feel when you stand up for yourself? What prevents us from standing up for ourselves?
And if every person stood up for themselves, would it be normal again? What does it take in society for that to happen?
Or is it that we still need to learn better HOW to stand up for ourselves?
I look forward to hearing from you on this. Feel free to write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Love greetings, Diana