The Real Value of our Values – how they inform our lives

When I ask a client about their values, I often get a confused look followed by a questioning response. However, this is a topic that cannot be underestimated, understanding the role values play can be a real game changer. How we align with our values effects how we live our life.

When we describe our values, we are talking about what is important to us. They are the principles that give significance and meaning to our lives. Knowing your values gives you a clearer picture of how you create your own reality, how you interact with others and a reasoned understanding. Progressing to think about other peoples values will provide you with an appreciation of their personal reality.

Our values inform our beliefs and together these define how we perceive life, the choices we make, our actions and the behaviour we show. Our reality is based on constructs we have created through our experiences; values and beliefs are influenced by our experience of these constructs and inform our future paradigms. Providing what we hold to be true, the way in which we see and experience the world. Our values are unique and therefore our lens by which we view and perceive them is unique too.

Your values

Have you ever given much thought to your values and what they are? We operate with a web of values, generally between 10 and 20 that interplay with each other. Another important factor is that not all values are equal; we prioritise them, under pressure some values trump or force out others. Values also change overtime as we attain our goals our reality and needs change, as does our view and understanding of the world.

Values hold three forms, Foundation Values – these are our grounding values – if threatened they are likely to cause a stress response and start taking high levels of energy. Our Focus Values describe our present worldview; affect our decision-making and how we interact. We deploy proactive energy on these conscious values. Finally our Future Values, these are underdevelopment and form our aspirations, they motivate growth and change and provide drive.

Our values change overtime as we attain and grow; focus values may become foundation values and future become focus. We therefore need to actively maintain our understanding and awareness of our values and how they influence us.

By understanding our own values we will have a clearer picture of what we feel and why we interpret people and events in certain ways. This knowledge also enables us to make informed decisions about actions and life decisions. Ultimately we can influence and prioritise our values by taking conscious action, reflection and challenging our world view which influences the way we interact and live our lives.

Values at work

If you are working or spending time with people whose values do not align with your own you will feel it, levels of stress increase coupled with a sense of being out of your comfort zone. In a work environment creativity and productivity will fall where there is a misalignment of values. For leaders understanding and working with values and their priority levels to gauge the people in your team can really affect performance and engagement levels.

For example, consider having a member of your team with a high achievement drive and you see them working hard and delivering great work. They may however also have a high family driver, to which they give greater priority. You may provide additional opportunity and challenge for that person, increasing expectations to support their opportunity for achievement. However if that contravenes their family drive their engagement will fall, stress levels will rise as core values come into conflict – in such times people face and make difficult decisions.   Therefore, it is key to discuss and understand values with people.

Shared values are a key consideration for teams wanting to achieve higher levels of performance. Given we know our values inform our views and our decisions, in a team environment they support individuals acting cohesively and guide group and individual behaviour towards a common purpose. Team values must be in balance with personal values forming  a framework that bonds. As with personal values team and organisations value requirements are transient.

Working on our values delivers

When there is a misalignment of values you see, hear and feel it.  When we are aligned with our values life holds greater meaning, we feel a sense of achievement and motivation. When we know about our values we understand why and what we believe and how that affects us. We can make proactive choices.

Understanding our values makes us more accepting of others and we are able to understand and appreciate difference. Where we share values we form stronger and more meaningful relationships. We can also deal more effectively with difficult and stressful situations by understanding our responses, avoiding the amygdala hijack and employing informed thinking.

At work understanding values improves team performance and engagement, priorities are clear and consensus improves. Enhancing awareness of self and others reduces conflict, responsibilities are aligned and individuals are motivated. The reduction in conflict and increased engagement levels improve productivity and creativity.

Research shows that people who work mapping their values and beliefs achieve increased awareness, control and improved decision-making. Individuals achieve greater levels of wellbeing, control and motivation. Understanding priority values transforms understanding and enables informed decisions and working with these can create significant sustained change. Ultimately working with values impacts the belief system that underpins how we understand the world, how we behave and the decisions we take.

You can start by asking yourself with some key questions, around your interests, what sparks enjoyment, how you spend your time and what is important to you?

If you feel work in this area would benefit you, a member of your team or your company please contact enquiries@vantagepeople.uk to discuss your needs. VP can design a bespoke plan to address your requirements.

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