The Importance of Identifying Your Core Values
- POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 21, 2022
One of the first things we do in Co-Active coaching with clients is to identify their core values. When you know what your core values are, they can help you to stay grounded in who you are and what you believe in, especially when challenges come up.
For example, I just found out I am about to lead a series of 15 virtual training sessions, back-to-back, for a massive corporate client. I’m terrified.
The project is bigger than anything I have attempted before, both in the number of leaders to train and the financial payoff. I had raised my hand two months ago, before I could second guess myself, throwing my hat in the ring and blinking hard when it actually happened.
My strategy for some time has been to say yes now and ask questions later, providing I feel the thrill of genuine desire — what we call a full-body YES — at the original prospect on offer.
But now, facing down the execution, I need stronger stuff to remind myself of why I took on this project in the first place. Enter: core values.
Core Values: Why Do You Need Them?
While values are an overused word in corporate culture today, understanding your core values and your team’s core values can help guide you to your deepest why in the face of fear and indecision and give you the confidence to say yes to what really matters.
One of my important core values is readiness. Readiness means for me I am always ready now, in this moment, to take on the next challenge. Readiness has made me trust that my whole life has been preparing me for this moment and that all my preparation of experiences lives inside of me. Readiness has me find a calm center after my hand has shot in the air in the time it takes me to walk from the back of the room to the front of the room.
Another value is stepping forth. Stepping forth is my value that honors volunteering in the first place. Stepping forth accepts — as Joseph Cambell put it — the hero’s call. Stepping forth says YES, I will do it. It’s about taking responsibility, especially when no one else will. It’s about filling a vacuum in leadership. It’s about the awkward and never-ending pause where someone asks for a volunteer — a committee head, a scribe, a presenter, a field trip chaperone — and the little voice inside you says “I will.” It’s the value of stepping forth bravely, boldly and eagerly commits.
Aliveness is my value that honors sensation and exhilaration and celebrates all the experiences that make our human existence feel alive. Aliveness doesn’t discriminate between good and bad experiences; instead, it’s about how alive something feels: how it resonates and how sharp, clear, poignant, tingly, charged, and present it is. Aliveness reminds me to live in the now, knowing that I’d rather be alive than be safe, helping me push past fear.
Surrender is my core value that allows me to let go. Surrender turns anything I would have control over into a great experiment, knowing I can only influence my own reaction and not the outcomes. Surender allows me to trust and have faith that all will be revealed.
And finally, there’s the courage to be messy. When I remember my value of courage to be messy, I remember I don’t have to get it right or perfect. I remember it takes courage to fail, and to let your hair down enough so that others can see you try. This value reminds me to share with vulnerability, to let others in and to embrace the mess of the process.
Knowing Your Core Values Is Knowing Yourself
Identifying your core values is crucial. As I write about these values, I remember who I am at the core, and my confidence returns. It suddenly becomes possible to swing out, take risks, and fail because of what matters to me.
If you haven’t contemplated your core values before, start by making a list of all the qualities you believe in and pick the top five most important to you. What does it give you if you start to live your life according to these values? You might just end up braver than you started, putting your hand up and delivering powerfully on your full-body “yes.”