Identifying one’s core values is an effort which requires thoughtful reflection, brutal honesty with one’s self, and being willing to challenge assumptions. Often as you embark on this effort you either gather or are presented with a list of common values such as… Authenticity, Bravery, Integrity, Loyalty, Optimism, and Wealth.
As you review these suggestions, you are challenged to consider their significance to you. You are also challenged to understand their meaning, implication, and the responsibility that is associated with it. After reviewing the list, you are then challenged to list any values that may be missing from the list that stand out in your experience.
At the end of the exercise, you are asked to select the five most-prominent values from the list. These would be considered your core values. They are not intended to be aspirational values or ones that you don’t currently exhibit but desire to. They are to be ones that are integrated into everything that you do and when they are compromised or breached, they create a level of distress in your life.
On the surface, the effort of identifying your core values may appear as nothing more than an interesting exercise, quickly forgotten as the days pass; However, there are several significant outcomes of the exercise if one takes them to heart. First, the exercise is one that walks you through the thought and reasoning process required to mature your self-awareness. Second, understanding your core values provides great clarity on “why” and “how” you operate through the various roles in your life. Your core values are the framework on which your personal mission statement is built. Third, there is a level of peace that is gained through understanding your core values and why a strong emotional response is triggered when they are breached. With this understanding, you are able to navigate these storms with great agility.
I encourage you to take the time to explore your core values – once identified write them down, print them out, frame them, and place them in a place where you will see it on a daily basis. As a result, you will live your life with a level of clarity and intentionality that elude many.