Backing your values Are you walking your talk?

Do you ever sit in silence in company or band meetings because you feel it’s not possible to express a different viewpoint because the group culture doesn’t allow it?

If you have and then wanted to kick yourself afterwards for not saying what you truly believe you may have experienced a form of ‘values conflict’.

I once worked with an organisation that didn’t share many of the values I hold close. But I kept working alongside this group for years, becoming unhappier, but not quite understanding that the source of my deep discomfort was a serious clash of values. I found that at times the company’s behaviour and culture conflicted with my moral compass too. And after a while, it was almost impossible to meet halfway so, in the interest of self-preservation, I moved on.

Our personal values exist and whether we’re aware of it or not, they’re usually at the core of every significant decision we make.

In life we all have an individual set of core beliefs. These core beliefs are known as values – these are the strong ideas and philosophies that basically drive our behaviour and the way we interact with others. Your values determine your priorities and influence your decisions. Values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live, love and work. These are often the non-negotiable's in your life - things that are absolutely not to be messed with. Because messing with them, usually messes with you (one way or another).

When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually tip-top. But when these don't align with your personal values, that's when things feel out of whack. If we’re constantly operating in a state of conflict with people or a workplace with opposing values, this can wreak internal havoc and can become a great source of unhappiness.

Here are some examples that might resonate:

-If you value family and personal life, but you are expected to work 60 plus hour weeks in your job, will this mis-match cause internal stress and unhappiness?

-If you value exchange of ideas but are in a workspace where ideas aren’t valued how will that sit with you?

-If you value fairness and honesty, will you be able to operate in a work environment where there are pay discrepancies among co-workers that are not transparent?

-If you value positive feedback, how will you cope working alongside people who don’t acknowledge good work?

In these types of situations, understanding your values can really help. When you’re crystal clear on your own values, you can use them to make important decisions about how to live your life. You can pretty much apply your values findings to almost any question to get the answer. Who should I work with? Should I accept this opportunity or new client? Should I start my own business? Am I treating myself in accordance with my values? Am I treating my loved ones in accordance with my values? How am I treating my body, my friends, the world around me?

Many of our values were instilled in us as children – these are values such as honesty, kindness, fairness, personal responsibility and so on. But as we become adults we may find that our some of our values no longer serve us and have been subconsciously replaced. Although values can remain stable as we move through life they can shift in priority depending on what stage of life we’re in.

As we know, organisations and groups also carry with them their own set of unique values and sometimes the clash of these values between an individual in a particular work culture can lead to unhappiness in the workplace. This is classic ‘values conflict’ where there is a mis-match of principles. Of course, we don’t all have the luxury to walk away from our job if there is a clash of values. So sometimes it’s necessary to try and find a way to honour our beliefs within the parameters of someone else’s organisational principles.

Many of us feel as though we are not living life according to our values. Something feels ‘off’ inside and our inner compass seems to have taken a leave of absence. Sound familiar?

Personal integrity is closely linked to our value system so if we are feeling a little out of kilter it might be worth considering the role of our core beliefs.

It’s hard to compromise on our values without feeling a sense of unease but ultimately not living by our values can flatten us. This includes living our lives through the values of others (be it a partner, family member, boss or close friend). Compromises sometimes have to be made in life but if we swing too far too far away from our core values we might experience feelings of inertia and discontent. Or worse. Not living a life in accordance with our values can make us physically ill as we struggle constantly to find the happy medium.

Revisiting our values from time to time can be a handy exercise especially when something doesn’t feel right but you can’t put your finger on it. Creating a personal inventory of your guiding principles can be a liberating process.

There are many advantages to identifying your core values. These are like unique guideposts that can serve as a guide in every aspect of your life.

 Being clear on your values can:

*Offer up a framework of how to live your life with as much focus as possible

*Help define what is meaningful to you (and what isn’t)

*Help you figure out what kind of employment is right for you

*Work out what you’re truly passionate about

First try and work out what your core values are by doing a ‘values’ audit.

There are a number of great free online tools you can use to help you do your values audit including this one:

To help you identify your values ask yourself these simple questions:

What makes you happiest in your life?

What makes you fulfilled in work?

What is most important to you in life?

What gives you the most meaning in work?

Some examples of values are:

Creativity, Intelligence, Loyalty, Honesty, Teamwork, Commitment, Diligence, Reliability, Uniqueness, Courtesy, Joy, Work-Life Balance, Family time etc

Write down your values and take note of any recurring themes.

Then ask yourself these questions:

*Looking at my values, is there an overarching theme?

*Am I living through someone else’s values?

*Is my career in line with my core values?

*Does the organisation I work for share many of my values?

*If not, is there anything I can do to address this with key influencers in the workplace?

*Is anything I’m doing in my life going against my core values and affecting my wellbeing?

Of course, your values are only as good as how you apply them in everyday life. Once you have your list, what will you do with the knowledge and what, if anything, will change?

By taking the time to understand your values, aka the real priorities in your life, you'll be able to determine the best direction for you and your life goals.

 “I have a sensible set of values that tell me to never lie”.

John Lydon

Thanks for reading

Coach Viv