I’ve been on a Brené Brown kick lately. Although I have been familiar with her work, and loved her viral TedTalk, and hadn’t actually read any of her books. Until last week, when I read two. Dare to Lead and Daring Greatly both discuss the importance of vulnerability and how it can impact personal and professional relationships.
In the book, Dare to Lead Brené describes an exercise in which she asks participants to circle all the values which they feel are important to them. After they have circled all the values which they feel are most important, they are asked to narrow the list down to two. Define your two most core values; narrow from a list of over 100 values, down to two. Define which two values drive you, that’s a tall order.
As I read through the list and tried this exercise, I was stumped. Although many of the values could be rolled-up into others, and narrowed down, the task was difficult. This entire exercise made me think about my values, and if these would be apparent to others. If I struggled with defining which two values are most central to who I am, and how I operate, would others have this difficulty too? Could someone look at me and identify the values which guide my life, and could I look at others and know the same?
It’s interesting to me, when I think of certain people in my life, and how instantly I can think of the values which guide them. My husband is a prime example. Without having to look at the list, I can immediately identify the values I believe guide him personally and professionally. And most people who know him could probably do the same. He thrives in accountability; “own your sh*t” is one of the most integral parts of who he is. If he makes a mistake, he will be the first one to own it. And will work his tail off to be sure it doesn’t happen again. He uses this ownership mentality to drive himself and those around him. The other is integrity; by definition integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. When it comes to integrity, he does not waiver. Although he may feel his core values are different than I what I see, I admire that these values are so apparent; and I hope mine are as well.
If you don’t know which of these values are what guide you; or you are having a hard time narrowing down to two, what do you do? I was listening to an Art of Charm podcast and they recommend picking two to three values and experimenting with them for a week. Then using mindfulness identify how operating within these values influences your mindset and the interactions with those around you. How does operating within those values, in every interaction possible make you feel? Did working within a set of values help you navigate any difficult situations? Values are like a compass, they guide you when you’re lost; they orient you on how to take on a task. Instead of pointing you toward true north, they help point you toward your true self.
For example, I know that when I focus on Kindness, and how I can try to be more kind in my actions, I feel better. If I am unsure how to move forward if I can be mindful of how to move in a way that still aligns with my core values, then I find the situation a bit easier to navigate. It’s not always easy to operate within your values, especially if you’re unsure of what those core beliefs are. This week, take a page from Brené Brown and the Art of Charm, and focus on values. Focus on implementing an operating system that make you better and positively influences those around you. Do you know your core values? Are you living a value-driven life? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about your experiences with the exercise!