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Values: Why are they important?

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

Do you know your core values? You may not have yet named them, but trust me, they’re important to know! As we move through our daily lives, there are things that annoy us, trigger us, or otherwise just straight piss us off. Why? Why does that piss us off so much? Well, most likely it’s because one of our core values is being compromised. Let’s look at an example…

Personal Accountability

I set up a meeting at work with 3 of my peers. We have to discuss strategy for helping our customers with a specific issue. 1 of these peers is critical for this meeting, they know all of the details of how this has failed for us in the past. I then send a meeting invite for the 4 of us to meet on Thursday at 11am. All 4 of us accept the meeting invite replying with a “Yes”. 11 am on Thursday, 3 of us log into the meeting. Our friend, #4, who is critical to the meeting isn’t there. Those of us in attendance chat until 11:05, we send #4 a Slack message with no response. At 11:10 we decide we don’t have the critical details and choose to reschedule the meeting for next week. And now, I’m pissed. 3 people just wasted 10 minutes of their days waiting for someone who said they would show but didn’t. They didn’t cancel, they didn’t communicate, and I’m just plain mad. Why am I mad? My #1 core value was compromised: Personal Accountability.

Without the awareness that my #1 core value is Personal Accountability, I could easily tailspin in this scenario. I could rant and rave about my missing peer, question my company and potentially question my whole career path because this “idiot” I work with didn’t show up. (Extreme, I know, but hey, that’s how it goes in my head sometimes!) If we flip that scenario now and I know my core value was compromised in that situation, I can appreciate what happened and my reaction. Further, I can turn that reaction into a response by understanding it and having control over how I respond. The difference here is awareness. I’m now aware of why this bothers me. I now know that when a situation compromises my core value, I could be triggered. I get to choose how I show up and how I handle this situation next. And that, my friends, is how knowing your core values makes a difference in how you show up in the world.

The Fallout

So I learn and I grow and I respond differently going forward in the workplace. Yay me! (The response portion is a longer story, we’ll save that topic for another day…) But then I go home after that long day of work. I had mentioned to my daughter earlier in the day that I needed her help with cleaning up the dishes. I know we’re short on time this evening and if she gets the dishes put away, it’ll save me time and I’ll be able to get dinner cooked and cleaned up afterward so we can make it in time to her evening commitment. I get home, ready to cook, eat and clean before heading out the door and… (include dramatic music here) the kitchen is still a mess. She didn’t do what she said she would do. Guess what? I’m pissed… again… Without the awareness that Personal Accountability is my #1 core value, I lose my shit. She said she would do it and she didn’t, what a selfish brat, right?? Now, let’s reframe it. Since (lucky her) I already know this is my core value and it’s now been compromised, I have the opportunity to respond instead of react. (Again, we’ll keep the “response” portion for another discussion)

(If you’re a weight-lifter, this analogy may help.) There are tons of exercises to work your hamstrings. There are deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts, seated hamstring curls, hamstring squat press, sanding leg curl, sliding leg curl, glute bridge, and oh so many more… (note, I’m not a personal trainer, so some of these may be wrong!). Just because you have strong hamstrings, there’s no guarantee each of these exercises are “easy” for you. The difference is in the dynamics and nuance of each exercise. Each exercise has more context than just the hamstring. Sometimes you need more core involved, or other times you need stronger glues, sometimes balance is a big factor. If we liken the muscle (hamstring) to the core value (personal accountability) in this scenario, we can see that having a strong hamstring doesn’t mean all hamstring exercises are easy. Likewise, having an appreciation for the core value of personal accountability in the workplace doesn’t mean that seeing it at home, or in finances, or in health/wellbeing is easy. Once we begin to understand and appreciate the core value, we can begin to understand how it influences other parts of our life. And even though we feel strong about our understanding in one part of our life (ie. in the workplace), we may be totally blind to it in another part of our lives (ie. at home with our family). But if we never work our hamstrings at all, all exercises are likely to be tough. Further, other parts of our body begin to be impacted. Without strong hamstrings, our glutes may suffer, leading to back problems or neck issues. Just with the interconnectedness of each muscle in our body, so is the interconnectedness of our core values to all portions of life.

The net net here is, our core values are critical to who we are, how we show up in the world and how we react/respond. This is why understanding our Core Values (yep, I capitalized it this time, it’s THAT important) is so critical. I suggest we all take the time to explore our core values. There are tons of resources out there, you can literally do an internet search on “core values list” and you’ll be presented with lists and quizzes and all the resources you can imagine. Take time to explore it. Review a list and see what pops out for you. Observe your daily interactions with self and others, see where you “react” rather than “respond” and get curious about it. Ask yourself “Hmm… why did that bother me so much? What values could be compromised in this situation? Do any of these resonate with me? Can I see other situations where these values are compromised and it bothers me?” Maybe you find them easily, maybe you adjust them many times before figuring it out. They will present themselves over time if you’re observant and curious. One key point here is to remove any judgment around the process. Don’t judge yourself during this process. Judgment will keep you stuck and prevent the self-exploration from occurring. Don’t label things as “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”, it just “is”, and that’s ok.

Next Steps

Need help exploring your core values? I’m here to help as your Coach! Using a Coach to help explore values can be incredibly helpful. Coaches won’t tell you what your values are, but they’re able to help guide you to find them. We love asking questions and getting really curious about who you are, how you show up in the world and what some of your triggers are to help you discover your values. If you’re interested in working with me as your Coach, please send your information and I’m happy to meet with you to discuss how I can help!

All the best in all your self-awareness discoveries!

The Beacon Coach, Meagan Grant

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