By Tamra Wade
This week Paper Hope held a very special event geared towards helping us discover our core values.
Core values are super important yet so many of us have never put them down on paper and really examined them. Core values are the fundamental beliefs and principles that guide our behaviors and expectations. Knowing our core values we can express our needs and ask more clearly for what we want from ourselves and others. We can make better decisions about all aspects of our lives.
Corporations use core values to help define how the company should behave in business. These core values are expressed in the company’s mission statement. These two together are used as a compass in making difficult decisions. We can use these tools in our personal lives too.
Keep in mind, a core value is only valid if it has an active influence in your life and it is something you choose to live by. Getting to know our core values is a valuable exercise and use of time. In our event this week we focused on our positive core values.
We had a room full of junior high students many about to enter into their first year. Rachel Steele, founder and CEO of Steele Executive Careers, lead the group through her core value exercise.
What happened was unexpected.
Once the group had finished their worksheet, Rachel asked each participant to share with the group what his or her top three values are. To my surprise many of the participants stood and addressed the group sharing very transparently their top three core values. Some of what the group shared were amazing and filled me with so much hope and happiness. Here is some of the top core values shared (in no specific order):
Justice – to speak up
After each person shared, Rachel asked the group what could they do to help support their friend with his or her core value. The group was very interactive and engaged.
One participant shared she values generosity. We talked about the ways to support her in her value of generosity saying things like being generous with our time, or sharing other comforts with her will support her core value. While this is what she valued and the behavior she extends to others, admittedly, it is much harder for her to accept generosity when it was given to her.
This blew my mind because I haven’t been able to find one of my important core value that I don’t wish to have shared with me. It seemed intuitive to me that a core value is something you wish to give and receive. But generosity was only one example, we had many other examples just like this one.
Another example of this, many of the participants who valued communication found it difficult to speak openly when they needed to talk with someone. Those who valued generosity shared they have a hard time accepting generosity when it was given to them. They like to be the person who is generous, but it makes them uncomfortable receive generosity. Participants who valued support also craved receiving it but felt uneasy about accepting it.
I didn’t expect this outcome.
Maybe this is something that you already understand. If so, please share what you know. I am now in a new learning curve as I find this revelation to be extremely important.
The exercise was to help the group identify what they value in themselves and their interactions with others. What it exposed was areas that each needs help with receiving actions connected to values they find important.
Something else that stood out was the desire to connect face to face with one another while interacting with their core values. Nearly every person who spoke said that when they are down, excited or need help they desire to have receive support from their peers face to face. This was also unexpected as it would be easy to think that this age group would like most to interact via technology of some kind. This is not the case with this group.
My observation though our workshop is how we need to identify our core values and keep reevaluating them. Over time they move and shift. It isn’t enough to know what your values are. We have to know how we wish to have others interact with us as it pertains to our values and be able to communicate our needs.
If you desire to feel connected with others because you value communication, but don’t know how to communicate, this will be a barrier in your feeling secure and connected. If you value honesty, but find it difficult to be vulnerable and honest, this too will cause a gap between what you value and actually experiencing it.
This was alarming to me because it is a reflection of how a person rates his or her self value. Knowing the value and being able to receive it should be equal. It was a clear sign that we need to work more on feeling comfortable with asking for what we need and then actually accepting it.
We will meet again to talk more about our core values and to create our personal mission statements. We ran out of time because there was so much to talk about.
One aspect we will circle back with is how our core values are built. Often our core values are instilled because of our family, peers and society. While in our event today we saw some of the most positive examples of core values, sometimes negative core values can creep in and take hold. Often without our awareness.
A few examples of negative core values are a belief that other people are fundamentally untrustworthy, or a belief that people are powerless to change their lives. We want to check in and see if there are any negative core values looming. These tend to be connected with learned helplessness. The good news is there are ways to combat a negative core value.
Rachel’s lesson is attached. Please download them and work through the worksheets. One is very detailed for those of you who thrive in the nuts and bolts. The other is more streamlined for those who don’t enjoy so much detail. Use them both or select one that best suits your learning preference.
Let me know what your top three core values are. Let me know if, like many participates, you too like your values but have a hard time receiving them from others.
We need to keep talking about this.
PS I have to mention how amazing each of our participants were. I was blown away by their focus, engagement, compassion, maturity and intelligence. I wasn’t shocked by this, but felt a deep happiness and encouragement knowing how bright their futures are and how our future community will benefit from such strong leaders, innovators and creators. Powerful group of young people! It was an honor to witness their sharing and support of one another.