Uncovering Your Personal Values (And Using Them To Navigate Your Life)

Recently I shared my journey on how I uncovered and discovered my values with practical, real world definitions. So how can you uncover yours and use this to empower your life? Let’s recap on what I believe values are. Our values govern our lives. They are the lenses through which we see the world. But not only that – they are also the measures by which we assess and even judge all people, interactions and situations. We make decisions based on  them, and they dictate our behaviour. Shifting from your current definition to this one might be a lot to ask if you haven’t viewed values this way before but upon deep reflection I think you’ll agree.

There are a bunch of methods out there  — which I’ve seen, and tried — to identify your values. The challenge with most is they tend to provide you with a list of words to trawl through, and then get  you to pick out those words you feel most strongly about. This can work well but can also be too leading or too limiting. The biggest issue I see is that these methods tend to operate in the conscious mind - highlighting only those values you’re already aware of. What we really want to do is uncover the deeply foundational, as well as the newly important ones, ensuring we cover both the conscious subconscious mind.

A Framework For Uncovering Values.

A number of years’ ago Cultural Anthropologist Michael Henderson introduced our team to the minessence framework as part of a half day workshop. It’s good — very good. And so is he  - his ‘above the line work’ is incredibly useful. This method has been tuned over 30 years and thousands of profiles which has resulted in surprising accuracy. Without exception, the report produced for dozens of Potentiates over the years has been spot on. However, If there’s anywhere that it falls short  though it’s that some of the personal and environmental context, in words that people are really connected to, can seem absent from the ranked values that are produced in the report using the proprietary lexicon. Reading the report in its entirety is a valuable educational experience. If you have the time – its 85 pages.

 We’ve found the most useful, practical sections in the report to be:

2.8: My World-view & World-Views map Table
2.10 My Foundation, Focus & Vision Values

4.0 Concretizing your values
4.2 My focus Values

4.3 My Vision Values
4.4 My Foundation Values
5.1 My Top 10 Values
The Values Map and The Brain Preference Map (at the back)

So we’ve added catchall steps to our values discovery method - this is what our  process looks like this:

  1. If you could describe yourself in only three words, what would they be? To add some context imagine that you’re about to be introduced to someone you really admire and that person is going to be briefed about you with these words, believing that they describe you in your entirety. This helps uncover personal and conscious values. Write these down.

  2. What do you and your family share in common, principles or traits that people that know your family have picked up on over the years? Write these down and circle the ones that are actually values. These are some of your foundational values.

  3. Complete the Minessence Profile and read through the report, paying special attention to the pages identified earlier.

To help you keep track, document them in a single place – I suggest the Asana — a tool I’d be lost without — but more on this next time. Put these words, values that you’ve uncovered, side by side.

Finding Our Meaning of Life - Does it Really Impact Me In The Workplace?

Take a hard look at them. Are there common themes spanning your consciousness, your subconscious, your present and your past? Which aren’t present throughout? Why do you think this is? On reflection - do you feel anything missing? Are there any interests that you’re passionate about that are absent? Now you have a pretty conclusive list of the values that are most important to you in your life right now. These words should capture the kind of person you want to be as well as the kinds of things you want to pursue. But how useful are they? Ponder this quote from Victor Strecher, fin his superb book ‘Life on Purpose’. “Meaning in life asks the question ‘Why am I here?. Purpose in Life is concerned with what we most deeply value, and purposeful living is concerned with whether we’re living for what matters most”. Values are pivotal in helping us define our purpose, so without the knowledge you now have , proper definition of your purpose may be elusive. That sounds like a big deal.

Equipped with this knowledge there are profound possibilities to the life you can lead once you navigate what matters most to you, starting with your purpose. The applications of values in a business context are  extensive and impactful including the hiring process, to determine fit, getting the right people on the bus and designing your company culture.

In the coming weeks I will be covering all of this, and more, so that you can use this to your advantage - next time, we’ll take a deeper look at what steps you can take to find your purpose.