‘Living the Dream’ is a twelve-week program that supports people like us (people like you and me) to gain clarity on our goals and ideal life and develop the habits and beliefs to experience this life, one day at a time, in reality. To learn more on how you can participate contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week I want to explore Values; why they matter and how you can make yours work for you.
Milton Rokeach, who revolutionised the discussion around human values through his research in the 1970’s, refers to a value as:
an enduring belief about the way things should be done or about the ends we desire.
In last week’s discussion around definitions, we also found that our values had a strong influence on other areas of our life too:
- Values: The things that we hold dear in life or give priority to.
- Principles: A set of rules for enacting and applying values to life.
- Culture: The manifestation of values in action over a period of time.
- Beliefs: Our framework for viewing reality. Beliefs guide our actions based on what we believe to be possible.
As these definitions and Gandhi’s earlier statement highlights, there is a symbiotic relationship between our values and our beliefs across all levels of our life. It is important to gain clarity on our values and to ensure that our beliefs support and are in alignment with these values.
Because, our values (whether unconscious or conscious) can both positively and negatively influence our choice of actions, which over time will shape our identity.
Our values can also be viewed from the perspective of being either intrinsic or extrinsic; that is, values that we choose and deeply resonate with us, or values that we have inherited or unconsciously adopted.
Here’s an example. While I was looking over last week’s blog, something caught my eye. There were two photos that I’d included in the post that seemed to have something in common. One was a photo of me as a 6 year old and the other, a photo of me as a 33 year old. What could be common across these two photos? On paper, and on every level there should really be no connection in the 27 years between those two people. At a cellular level, I don’t actually possess any of the same matter as that 6 year old. But when I look at those two photos I see one thing in common.
In the photo on the left, I am looking up at a street performer from World Expo ’88 with a sense of awe; I’m inspired. In the photo on the right, here I am now as an adult on the morning of our first Be Awesome Festival pilot and I’m looking across at a group of 8-10 year olds with that same look of awe; because I am inspired by them.
Inspiration. I realise that is an intrinsic value for me.
This value continues to be true for me now and it continues to serve me. I choose to value inspiration.
On the other hand, as that 6 year old boy grew up, he acquired some other values. From the time he started school, he learnt that if he behaved well and got good marks he would receive praise, acceptance and love. This felt great! Who wouldn’t want to feel this way? The better the marks, the “better” the boy, the greater the love! So why not aim for…perfection! As a boy, I thought that valuing perfection would help me get the love I sought. How has that worked out for me? Not so well!
Perfection is an extrinsic value that doesn’t serve me and I choose to let go of it.
While some values might seem to feel permanent or enduring, our values needn’t be fixed. We always have the power to choose our values, letting go of those extrinsic values that no longer serve us and cultivating those intrinsic values that truly support us.
It is also necessary to prioritise our values. Why? Because when we use our values as a decision-making tool, there will be times when our choices reveal a conflict or competition amongst our values. For example, let’s say we really value ‘family’ but ‘freedom’ is also really important to us. We haven’t had a holiday for a long time and we have a free weekend coming up. Valuing our freedom, we plan to get away and go on a hike, but then suddenly a family function comes up, and we have a conflict! What do we choose? If we know ourself and we know our intrinsic as well as our chosen values and we also live our life according to these values, then we can use our values to make strong choices that are in integrity with who were are and not on who other people say we “should” be.
There are lots of online resources out there to help you determine your personal values; just Google ‘determining your personal values’. The Be Awesome, Living the Dream program will also guide you through a series of personalised challenges designed to help you discover and choose the values that will serve you the most in living your Purpose and pursuing your Vision. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more.
Christian is the founder of Be Awesome and is choosing and re-prioritising his values right now. He is passionate about sharing the best of what he has learnt to allow others to experience more freedom and greater quality of choice in their life.
Since taking the “red pill” in 2010 and departing from a traditional career as an architect, Christian has explored a weird and wonderful career path involving teaching, community engagement and cultural management. He uses design thinking to help individuals and organisations act more creatively and gets excited about the opportunities that arise through travel, collaboration, chance encounters and new relationships formed across a range of creative fields. To work or play with Christian contact him here.