Exploring your personal values
Knowing yourself and the things that drive and energise you is a vital element of running a successful business. It is important to start by exploring your own values, and to identify which are the most important to you. Everyone has a different value set and understanding this can help you better manage business relationships.
Your authentic values are already profoundly affecting your life at a subconscious level determining your every day decisions. Consciously identifying your values will help you make better and faster decisions, have more productive business relationships and provide a framework for further business planning.
Brainstorm all of the values you can think of, regardless of whether or not they are yours. We recommend you write them down. Here are a few to get you started:
Accountability, Assertiveness, Balance, Being the best, Cheerfulness, Compassion, Courtesy, Creativity, Decisiveness, Democracy, Dependability, Dynamism, Economy, Excellence, Freedom, Fun, Society, Honesty, Insightfulness, Intelligence, Leadership, Merit, Perfection, Preparedness, Professionalism, Quality-orientation, Reliability, Rigor, Security, Spontaneity, Teamwork
Defining what is important to you
Think about the times you have felt the happiest. What was happening at the time? What was it that made you especially happy? Why did it make you happy? For example if a Christmas family gathering is a very happy time for you, perhaps it’s the company of others that’s very important to you, meaning that you put great value on closeness, loyalty, and trust.
Think about a time when you’ve felt especially fulfilled, this could be at work, doing a hobby or simply at home in the garden. What made you feel fulfilled? What was underlying the fulfilment? A job well done? A challenge met? A helping hand offered?
Perhaps you led a team at work to support a charity event. Feelings of fulfilment might come from meeting your values of working as a team, making a difference to people’s lives, or from hitting a target.
Think about a time when you have felt very angry. Anger is a response to behaviour that directly challenges or contravenes our deeply held personal beliefs. Why were you so angry? What were your personal feelings and justifications for that anger?
For example, you may have had a difficult relationship in your work environment, making you feel frustrated and angry. What did the other person say or do that you found particularly unacceptable? Why is that unacceptable to you? What could they and you have done to calm or avoid the situation?
An example of this might be a situation where you can see that a colleague is being treated unfairly or being bullied, and feel compelled to speak up. In this instance your values of fairness, kindness and integrity might be in play.
Refining your values
Go back to your list of values and pick out the six that most resonate for you. Write a few lines for each of what they mean to you personally. Words like ‘trust’ can have very different meanings for different people. Find someone to discuss personal values with – share your thoughts and ask about theirs. Consider the uniqueness of your personal value set and how your values define you.
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