My core values are Family, Respect, Education, Service and Adventure, not necessarily in that order. Why does that matter? Clarity about my core values helps me make decisions that allow me to fulfill my purpose and enjoy my life. It contributes to my professional success and personal happiness. Like many, I love and value my family above all. I have three grown children and four grandchildren. I’m fortunate to live near my oldest son and two of my grandchildren, so I see them often. While not physically close to my younger son, daughter and two of my grandchildren, I see them a few times a year and stay in close communication. In the words of John Medina, author of Brain Rules, I hang onto my loved ones for dear life. Valuing Family doesn’t relate only to my family, though. I work with clients who honor their employees’ family relationships and I coach my individuals to achieve more success at work and happiness at home.
I didn’t need an exercise to know how important my Family is to me, but completing a simple exercise helped me identify my other core values. Clarifying my values has made it easier for me to make both professional and personal decisions. Respect is one of my core values. I rarely get angry, but I’ve discovered that when I do, it’s often because I’ve experienced disrespect. Sometimes I think I’ve been disrespected, but I’m just as likely to become angry if I see someone else disrespected. I can now identify the reason for my anger faster and, more importantly, I can then decide what action I’m going to take, if any. Does the incident warrant a response from me? Can I make a difference? How? These are questions I ask myself, before deciding to speak up. This process has helped me make faster, better and more effective decisions.
Education and continuous learning are foundations for success – for people, families, businesses and communities. My grandmother told me at about the age of 85, When you stop learning, it’s all over. I try to live by her wise advice and example. Service relates primarily to my work with my clients. My purpose is to help people succeed and I do that by serving my clients, both individually and collectively. As I continuously update my learning, I ask myself, How can I provide more value and better service to my clients?
On a lighter note, l discovered that Adventure is one of my core values. Looking back, I’ve always loved adventure, but I’d never recognized how much. Since I embraced its importance to me, I’ve taken advantage of opportunities as they’ve arisen, including trips to Rwanda and Guatemala. And I plan for small adventures, new day hikes and trips closer to home. Adventures, large and small, make my life richer and fuller.
Clarifying their core values has helped my clients, too. As a group of attorneys left my class, one returned to the front of the classroom and thanked me for the core values exercise. He went on to explain, “My wife and I have been arguing, because I thought I needed to get a job in a fancy New York law firm to be successful, but she doesn’t want to move. After taking your core values exercise I realized that everything that matters to me is right here.” I helped another client uncover the source of his anger with one of his employees by exploring the triggering incident and his values. He thought what she had done was disloyal to him and his firm, yet he didn’t think he could confront her without telling her the source of his information. His core values of loyalty and confidentiality were at loggerheads. Realizing this eased his anger, but didn’t resolve it. We then identified a way he could discuss the situation with his employee without revealing his original source. As a result, they resolved the problem and she continues to be a valuable employee. How can identifying your core values help you be a better leader and make your life fuller and richer?
Email josmith@josmithassociates if you’d like a simple, complimentary Core Values exercise.