Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.
Values alongside our beliefs can help to define who we are and how we live. Above all they are what we hold dear and deeply. In knowing and understanding more about how they live in our lives, we can be clearer about what matters and what is important for ourselves, others and the wider context in which we live and work.
As we go through different life phases, what is important to us changes sometimes at the expense of what is important for us. For example, for some in their teens and early twenties having fun could be priority over gaining an education. It is not until later that the significance, motivation, joy and enjoyment of learning may be valued.
Another obvious example is our health and well-being where much can be taken for granted until circumstances change and we review what matters to us and what is important for us.
Through understanding and giving voice to our values, we can find new freedoms and opportunities about how we make the important choices and decisions in our lives.
At a time when we live with increased uncertainty, under pressure we can find ourselves defaulting to ‘old patterns’ which can result in fear based behaviours. Criticism, blame unhelpful judgments, defensiveness, intolerances and retaliation can take us in a unhelpful direction leading to poor decision making and subsequent unintended actions.
It was Einstein that said: [blockquote]
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
This suggests that we should find time to explore different ways of thinking other than our own individual stance, which may be flawed.
Our core values are a reference point from where we make our decisions, develop strategies and the interactions that we adopt and play out in our own lives. By finding a method to identify what is essential to us, we are able to find ways to recognise and voice our values when truly tough choices are being called for.
As Kidder points out in ‘Good People Make Tough Choices’, “The really tough choices don’t centre on my right versus your wrong. They involve my right versus your right.” He goes on to point out that they are genuine dilemmas specifically because they are rooted in one of our four basic, core values:
• Truth versus loyalty
• Individual versus community
• Short term versus long term
• Justice versus mercy
It is not for the faint-hearted to authentically live one’s values in practice or indeed find out what they are and the implications of holding them in relation to others. However, if each of us take personal realistic small steps, developing skills to practice in the everyday we stand a chance of building ethical 21st century organisations that work with the whole rather than a select few.
If you are interested in exploring your own values and those of your organisation further, get in touch to find out more about our Values in Practice programme.