Values Clarification Guide

It is something of a divine task for each of us to choose our Values — our ultimate priorities in life — because nobody can choose them for us. Values by their very nature cannot be delegated. Furthermore, there is no distinction between work and personal life when it comes to Values; these are the principles by which we wish to live in every moment and every space. Our Values define who we wish to be and the sacrifices we are willing to make.

Put simply, our Values are the things which matter more to us than anything else in the universe, and describe the kind of person we want to be.

While the clarification of one's Values is a critical step, it is not enough to simply know what one's Values are. The real challenge begins after our Values are clear; then we begin the lifelong practice of bringing our behavior into alignment with our Values. For what good is it to know our Values if we do not honor them in our actions?

Likewise, each business is subjected to factors that carry strategic importance. These are your theoretical set of unique corporate Values — the principles with which everyone on your team must align their behavior, in order to accelerate progress toward your team's goals.

So, how do you go about identifying your personal and corporate values? Try answering the following questions to get some clues:

  • When you look out at the world, what breaks your heart? Why does this move you? Your answer will reveal a Value.
  • What currently frustrates you in life and work? We can only be frustrated by something we also care about, and if we care, then it's connected to a Value. Pain and Values are two sides of the same coin; look for pain and try to see what is on the other side that matters to you.
  • What kind of leader do you want to be?
  • What kind of mentor do you want to be?
  • What kind of environment do you want to create for the people on your team?
  • What kind of people do you want to be around?
  • What would you want people to line up to thank you for at the end of your life?
  • What ideals do you admire in others?
  • What is your most painful experience? What kind of person do you want to be as a result?

Keep going until you start noticing yourself repeating, then choose the 4-6 most important Values. If you would like more guidance, feel free to contact us. It can also be helpful to go through this same process as a team to identify Values with strategic relevance to your business. When you feel confident in your list, congratulations — you have just completed the first critical step.

A Challenge Approaches

Unfortunately, our own human nature often works against both our personal and team Values.

We have evolved many hedonistic drives which powerfully organize our behavior to avoid immediate pain and pursue immediate pleasure. These actions often move us away from our Values, which conversely often require us to sacrifice short-term gains and confront imminent discomfort. The two are at odds, and hedonism is more often the victor.

One way to counteract this problem is to increase the short-term reward for behaving in alignment with our Values. By supplementing the Values-consistent behavior with more immediate rewards, we make the Values-consistent behavior more attractive to our hedonistic drives, so that it can better compete with the behavior that merely serves our immediate avoidant/pursuant urges — exactly what Engine was designed to help you manage.

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