I have been working a lot with clients on values recently and it led me to doing a new values elicitation exercise for myself. I last defined my values in 2004, as part of coaching I was getting to help me through a particularly challenging and draining work situation. I was interested to see if my values would be exactly the same, given I am now in a much better space.
This is the list I came up with:
True to Self, Making a Difference, Respect, Knowledge, Emotional Wellbeing, Abundance, Learning and Adventure.
There were a few changes from 2004. Emotional Security is now Emotional Wellbeing, Financial Security is now Abundance and Adventure is now on the list and it was absent in 2004. It is interesting that my core values are much the same, but expressed much more positively. It makes perfect sense given my positive mindset these days.
Why are values important? Fundamentally we all operate from a values base. Values define who we are, they guide the choices that we make, the people we choose to spend time with with and the things we do in life. Many people operate in life without ever pausing for reflection on the reasons why they make the choices they make.
However, when values become crucial is when we are operating in a way, or in an environment, that is not in alignment with our values. We feel troubled, disturbed, guilty even. We feel the psychological burden every day of not being values aligned. Over time this can manifest itself as physical illness. I know that for myself, my 2004 work situation led to so much stress I was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Following my diagnosis, I started work with a coach and a values exercise helped make it crystal clear for me exactly why I was so stressed. The behaviours of co-workers were way out of alignment with my values and in turn, I too was acting against my values. The solution was to work out how to bring my situation back in to congruence with my values. It wasn’t easy to act on, but it was necessary.
In fact, when I reflect, most of my struggles and stresses have been about values misalignment.
And when things are going really well? Guess what? I am values aligned!
Rosalind Cardinal is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, a Hobart based consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.
Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 20 years. Ros brings an energetic and proactive approach combined with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Her expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, organisational behaviour, employee engagement and motivation, strategic direction and management.