Values, when carefully crafted, are the most powerful tool for personal and professional growth I’ve seen. Our values motivate us when times get tough; help us face fear and step into action; bring an inner wisdom to decision making; and bring a sense of meaning and purpose to everything we do.
Taking shortcuts won’t develop truly meaningful values. No pick lists or five-minute, multiple-choice tests are going to magically unlock such a powerful tool. You have to do the work. But, if you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll be amazed at your return on investment.
At Revivae, we believe a framework for effective values development must meet five criteria. Values must:
1) Be built from the inside, out
Your values are unique to you, and should not be rooted in external sources.
When we allow our values to be influenced by social norms, cultural practices, religion, the media, or organizations to which we belong, we’re essentially trading our unique identity for those of the external entity. This is the easy route and a trap that’s all-to-easy to fall into. With this approach, we sacrifice our personal passion and purpose, in favor of the goals, ideals, and beliefs of others. This creates a rift in our lives, separating us from those things that point us to how we were meant to show up in life.
We will never be happy living under the influence of someone else’s values.
2) Be practical and relevant
Values should be practical, helping a person intentionally respond to challenges and navigate change within the context of their current circumstance.
If a value doesn’t help its holder make decisions and maintain course in challenging situations, then it has no use or relevance. The power of a value is its ability to act as an incredibly accurate guide. They point us toward that slightly-more-perfect version of our future self we know we can be, and show us to get there.
3) Provide a rich and energetic context
Rules live in our head. Values come from our heart. It’s a values’ energetic context that makes it so powerful.
Throw out your dictionary. Textbook definitions and logical descriptions of our values just don’t work. Values with this type of rational context feel cold and rigid. They lack the rich, energetic context that lets us feel what it’s like when the value is really present in our life. They balance our typical brain-based approach to life. They help us connect with our meaning, purpose, and connect with a wisdom-like sense of what’s good and right.
4) Have a meaningful name
A value should be given a name that carries a special and specific significance to its holder.
A meaningful value name helps clear away mind clutter and get quickly focused on the best way for you to respond in a situation. Think of the value name as a special electrical outlet. Pick the value you most need to tap into given your current situation, ‘plug in,’ and Voila! – Instant access to the energetic ‘vibe’ of that value.
5) Provide a framework for ongoing personal growth
An effective values development framework must provide a way for our values to evolve as we do, calling us to the next step of our personal growth.
As you practice strengthening a particular value is in your life, you will, over time, become that value. The value will shift from something you have to practice being, to a natural part of who you are. When this shift happens, that value ceases to be of use to you as a guide and tool for growth, and an effective approach to values development will always point to ‘what’s next?’
Are you ready to be value driven?
A value-driven life isn’t accomplished overnight. It’s a journey. It’s a way of life. There are no shortcuts. It takes time, commitment, and a willingness to honestly and constructively look at who you are compared to who you could be.
Being “value driven” isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely worth it.