Values are at our very core. They guide our behaviour and what we stand for. But how often do we really focus on them? We recently re-read The Power of Full Engagement (see below for details), and it reconfirmed to us just how important values are. The message we’re sharing today in this post and podcast, is that living your values is the key to being your best self, and the route to higher performance and effectiveness. The Values Based Personal Development Plan is a seven step process that becomes a tool to guide you, like a compass, with discovery and direction.
‘Living your values’ is about defining what’s important to you and focusing on those things. When you live your values, you have meaning and purpose. It's an empowering state of being. The process will highlight whether or not you're taking action and building your personal and professional life around your values, and whether or not you have conflict with them. The goal is to ensure you live in line with your values in a meaningful way.
Step 1: Complete the values card sort
Print out the Values Card Sort document and cut out the five grey value heading cards. Place them side by side from one to five as follows:
- ‘Never valued’
- ‘Seldom value,
- ‘Sometimes valued’
- ‘Often valued’
- ‘Always valued’
Next, cut out the white value definition cards. These include values such as: Independence, Friendships, Status, Stability, Competition, Creativity, Change and so on.
Now, ask yourself what values are significant to you?
Answer by placing each value definition card under the heading that applies to you. This will help you define which values engage you and make meaning for you. There are blank cards in case you want to include a value that we haven’t. At the end of this exercise you might shuffle them around, but try not to have more than seven cards under ‘Always valued’.
Take a photo of how things look at this point in time. This exercise alone is powerful because it allows you to reflect and ask yourself, ‘In my work life, where am I living my values? How many of my ‘Always valued’ values am I actually living?’
Step 2: Evaluating your values
This is a four-stage process.
Stage one: Determine which values you are fulfilling right now
Can you articulate the behaviours and practices that clearly reflect the ‘Always Valued’ values? For example, if one of your top values is ‘Physical challenge’, ask yourself if every day you do something that requires bodily strength or physical prowess. Try creating a story that demonstrates this value, how it makes you feel, and the impact this has on others.
Stage two: Determine which values you are only partially fulfilling
For example, if one of your values is ‘integrity’ but last week you didn’t complete something you said you would, then you’re only partially fulfilling this value. List these values and write what the benefit would be of fully engaging this value in your life. It might be that you’d get a sense of pride and achievement. Or that people would be able to rely on you; that you’d be a better people leader, or a better parent.
Ask yourself what the next logical step would be if you were to incorporate this value fully in your life, at home and at work. For example, if one of your top values is ‘knowledge’, fully engaging would be reading consistently, every day. If you weren’t fully engaging in this value, the next most logical step might be to set up your physical environment, i.e. put the books you intend to read next to your bed.
Stage three: Determine which values are important to you that you are not fulfilling
Be as truthful as you can and ask yourself, ‘What’s stopped me from making this value a priority in my life?’ Follow this with the question, ‘Where do I see this value reflected in others? What can I learn from them?’
Perhaps you have colleagues who are fully engaged in their pursuit of knowledge. The more you focus on these practices and the more examples you solicit, the more you can see connections and ways you can introduce that value into your life. In the case of knowledge, perhaps others have e-books or audiobooks on their phone which makes it easier for them to fully engage.
Stage four: Determine which values you are violating
For example, ‘Friendships’ might be an important value to you, but you’re not developing close relationships with people. Perhaps it’s because you’ve got your head down during a busy period. The thing is, there will always be busy periods. The impact may be that you feel isolated; that you’re not collaborating or sharing information with others which could impact work quality and timeliness. Ask yourself what you’re able to do about it.
Step 3: Clarifying your purpose and what’s important
What are the three most important life lessons you have learnt so far? In considering this question, we came up with the importance of kindness; of feeling good; of not judging others; of service to self and others. What about you?
Step 4: The impact you want to have on others
It's important not only to understand yourself and what motivates you, but also the impact you have on others. We are relational beings, and what we do has an impact on others, whether we intend it to or not.
Start by clarifying what that vision is by asking yourself ‘What do I want to be known for?’ In Stephen Covey's book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (link below), there’s a task where you pretend you're at your own funeral and you imagine what people are saying about you. For example, as a leader, you might want to be known as a someone who listens intently and acts strategically. Or perhaps you want to be known as someone who always adds value, who is very collaborative, or who produces high quality work.
Step 5: Create a vision statement for yourself
Once you’ve completed the reflection activities, start developing a vision statement that reflects your activities and your deepest values. Make it practical and inspiring.
Step 6: What life enriching, energy enhancing practices can you do?
Ask yourself what you can do to enhance your energy levels and renew yourself. What are you doing to fill up your cup, your spirit, so that you can do more and give more?
Pick one thing you could do differently that would mean the most to you if you were to really embody this in your life. Focus on a positive. Examples include taking one of your direct reports to lunch once a week; reading for 10 minutes a day; learning to meditate; starting a leadership journal in which you ask yourself daily questions like, ‘What did I achieve, or what am I proud of today? What went well? What am I looking forward to? What would I do differently? What am I grateful for?’
Step 7: Holding yourself to account
If you want to create lasting change, you must have daily practices that support that change. Think about what will make these activities or practises stick. The key is to make it visible, make it real, and make it front and centre. We want to make sure they stick for you and that you can measure your progress, so we’ve created a chart where you can see when you're on track and when you're off track. Measure yourself daily in each of the areas that you listed were important to you. It could be that you reflect on your values first thing in the morning and tick a box, or you might rate yourself from one to five and add comments. Whatever works for you.
If you already have a physical calendar at home, just transfer the values onto your calendar, and it becomes embedded and embodied into your regular rhythm. The whole key to setting up daily practices is to be consistent, have a plan, measure yourself, and then over time and before you know it, it's just part of who are!
“Nothing goes to waste. Whatever you put in, you'll get out, sometimes ten-fold.”
So, what would be the next most logical step for you to do right now? Would it be to download the values card sort? To cut them out? To make some time to go through this practice? Yes? Great!
Living your values is the the key to greater fulfilment and effectiveness. That’s why we know that engaging in this discovery and planning process will bring you powerful results. We're really looking forward to hearing some of your feedback. Good luck.
The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz (2003)
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R.Covey
Values Based Personal Development Plan