PrepareForLeadershipJourneyIdentifyYourValues

Prepare for the Leadership Journey: Identify your Values

In my last article, Prepare for the Leadership Journey, we made a start with defining your core purpose by exploring your past. You captured valuable information on defining moments and periods in your life. In this article, we build on this information and distill your core values and beliefs.

Beliefs are what you perceive to be true

Beliefs are not the same as reality – it’s what you believe is reality.

People develop different sets of beliefs, and therefore, everybody has a different perception of reality. Beliefs can come from such areas as personal experience, education, social or cultural influence. Many opinions and beliefs are communicated and exchanged in your daily life.

Beliefs are not the same as reality – it’s what you believe is reality.

You only have to think about the pervasiveness of marketing in media and social networks. Marketing tries to influence your underlying beliefs and how you think, feel, reason and select (a certain product or service).

Beliefs are extremely powerful and an important feed into people’s attitude and behaviour. A good illustration of the power of belief is when people are put under hypnosis. Under hypnosis, people can be instructed to see things that are not there.

For example, they may be instructed to believe that an onion is a juicy apple. When they wake up, they are completely unaware that their beliefs have been changed. When they are given an onion, they behave exactly as if they were eating a juicy apple. They are completely unaware of the difference and wonder why the audience is laughing.

You may be able to identify many of your core beliefs but you will also have beliefs that you are unaware of. They are settled in your unconsciousness but can have a significant impact on your day to day life. They may not be as extreme as the onion story above, but they can severely limit progress in your leadership journey.

Once people arrive at a conclusion, that makes them emotionally comfortable, then the reward and pleasure centres of the brain show increased activity, which reinforces their original beliefs. This phenomenon is called the confirmation bias.

Brain activity scans have shown that people who receive information that contradicts their current beliefs (cognitive dissonance), activates the emotional centres of their brain. This does not happen with information that supports their current beliefs.

The confirmation bias

Once people arrive at a conclusion, that makes them emotionally comfortable, then the reward and pleasure centres of the brain show increased activity, which reinforces their original beliefs. This phenomenon is called the confirmation bias.

This means that beliefs tend to be self-sustaining and, over time, solidify. More stable, fundamental beliefs slowly turn into Values. They are the things that you believe are most important in the way you live your life.

Identifying your core values provide you with a clear picture of who you are and what you stand for. It clarifies what motivates and drives you. This puts you in a good position to formulate your core purpose.

Discovering and prioritising your core values

The following activity helps you discover and prioritise your core values.

Activity 2 : Identify your core values

Purpose: Explore, discover and prioritise your core values.

Notes: As part of activity 1 earlier in Prepare for the Leadership Journey, you captured information on the most significant and life defining events in your past. You also captured the values and meanings associated with these events. Go through these and see if you can find values that have been consistent. They will be strong candidates for your set of core values.

  • Go through the list of values below and select the values that you believe are important to you today. It is impossible to provide a complete list of everything that could be of value. So add your own values if they are not in the list. Be honest with yourself; you don’t do this exercise for somebody else, so try to avoid values that are not part of the real you. It might be tempting to add values that are socially or culturally desirable, or values that have been imposed on you by your organisation. That’s not what this activity is about. It is all about you.
  • Identify your top 20 to 30 values and write them down.
  • Cluster the values that are similar in nature. For example; Abundance, Affluence and Wealth may all have the same meaning to you.
  • Prioritise your top 10 values. The easiest way to do this is to rate each value from 1 to 5, where “1” is very important to you and “5” is a nice to have.
  • Once you have identified your top values, then add a description. Describe what these values mean to you personally. For example, if you value “Health” then that can mean different things to different people, e.g. physical fitness, eat healthy food, lose weight or make sure you get regular health checkups.

Values

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have done this activity, then you will end up with a list of your core values, each with a clear description of what they mean to you. Your core values will be a guiding force in your decision making.

Becoming more aware of the things that are important to you helps you make decisions that move you in the right direction. Even if you don’t know exactly what your future will be, you know that these decisions will make you feel happy, fulfilled and satisfied. They are your guiding principles. Great leaders know exactly what their core values are and demonstrate these with ease and comfort in every action they take.

“The superior leader gets things done with very little motion. He imparts instruction, not through many words, but through a few deeds. He keeps informed about everything but interferes hardly at all. He is a catalyst, and though things would not get done well if he weren’t there, when they succeed he takes no credit. And because he takes no credit, credit never leaves him. “ – Lao Tse, Tao Te Ching.





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