I’m not a fan of cheesy clip art. But for the sake of illustrative purposes, this one does the job!
How can you identify them?
Well interestingly we often sense them most clearly them when they have been breached. If trust is a really strong value for you, and someone breaches your trust, you may feel the reaction at a very deep, visceral level. If professionalism is a value and you attend an event which is so poorly run, you may feel a personal affront and anger at the low quality of service. Or if kindness is a value and you witness someone being unkind to another it can alter how you view and in turn value that person. We can also identify them by recalling times in our lives in which we felt a consistent happiness, aliveness or sense of pride. It is likely that your values were being honoured and amplified during these times.
Our values shape the quality of our collaborations too. For instance, understanding where values overlap and where values differ is critical to successful collaborations and so learning to have open conversations with our partners and collaborators is vital to thriving interactions.
We often assume that we hold similar values to those around us, but it’s surprising how much variance there actually is, especially when we see how people individually prioritise those values. If one business partner has a top value priority as ‘freedom’, for example, and another has ‘safety’, then there is a potential clash zone. Maybe the ‘freedom’ person is more likely to take risks in the project and wants take big leaps than the safety person, who values gradual iteration and growth. If you are thinking of going into partnership with someone, doing the values identification exercise below is a great way to tease out potential synergies, challenges or even clashes in advance.
Plus, when we get explicit about our values it can help us to figure out what to do when we are stuck in a rut or facing a challenging decision. Let’s say you have listed ‘integrity’ as a value, then, when you need some inner direction, you can ask yourself (or your team), ‘What would integrity do now?’ Or if creativity is a value, ‘What is the best use of creativity here, or what is the best creative solution for now?
So, you can see, not only do are values act as stabilisers, they act as propellors too!
(Herein ends the cheezy boat/ ship/ sailing/ choppy waters analogy. RIP clipart)
How to identify and prioritise your values: 7 Step Process
Below is a 7 step value identification exercise, developed as part of the Thrive School curriculum. This exercise can be done alone, however it works best where there are at least 3 other people in the room working on it, as it gives you a chance to compare notes and learn together in conversation towards the end.
Time: Initially 45-60 mins. With a 5 review one week later.
Needs: Sticky notes. Blank wall space. Pens.
Step one: The big list
Write out as many values as you think you have, each one on a separate sticky note. Give yourself about 10 minutes.
A good way to accessing your values is to think about times in your life when you were most happy, and most proud. It is likely that your core values were being honoured during these times.
Or maybe you can recall a time when one was breached? You’ll know if you felt it at a really deep level and it may have been hard to let go of the experience or build trust again.
Step two: Viewing platform
Place all the sticky notes on the wall- take a step back and view. Are there ones that should not belong there? Are there any missing?
Step three: Identify patterns and clusters.
Start placing values which you think belong together in clusters. For example you may think that ‘ integrity’ and honesty should be side by side, or ‘fun’ and ‘play. You may find a clusters of values coming together. Review your clusters. Are there any patterns you see in your values?
Step Four: Prioritising values
Select your top value from each cluster and place them all together. Depending on how many clusters you had you’ll have a set of values. From these, can you keep removing or adding one until you have 5 values in this group.
Again take a step back. Are these your top five? Sometimes the arrangement of how you place your sticky notes on the wall can tell you something about your priorities. For example: you may have placed them all in a row and have given them all equal value; one may be in the centre and the others radiating from it like spokes on a wheels; or one may be above another. Look at the shape and the form which you choose to place the sticky notes in. Spot any patterns or does the formation give you any clues?
Step five (if you are doing this with a group of people)
Bring your top 5 values together as a group. Invite others to view them and ask you questions about your set. Why did you choose this one over that one? How does this one relate to that one? Why not this one? Spend a bit of time teasing out your choices in conversation with others. After the conversation review your set again. Are you happy with this selection?
For the following week keep your list of top 5 values visible to you (post them on your bedroom door or beside the bathroom mirror to remind yourself). For the duration of the week track to see how you represent your values in day to day life. In what ways are they honoured? In what ways have they been breached? How have they helped you make decisions during the week?
After a week of tracking your top values take a few minutes to review them. Are you satisfied with your selection? Do you want to swap in one for another? Write out your values in a journal to come back to when you need a reminder.
The exercise above is one of many clarifying exercises as part of the Thrive School curriculum.
Thrive School Dublin is soon to start on March 11th – a four month process which leads people through a process of value and vision clarification, into idea forming, through creative blocks and into action.
Applications are now open. You can find more over here. Application deadline is March 3rd.
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