Core values are the drivers of all you do, or want to do. We deflect from them on rare occasions when our integrity deteriorates. In a more general sense, we live by them. They are the key to growth, personally and professionally. Unfortunately, they are also often overlooked and not so simple to effortlessly articulate.
Understanding your core values is important. If you do understand, it is important to reassess them periodically as well. If a decision dissatisfies you, there is a reason. The reason often correlates with your core value composition.
Everyone has a set of core values. Yet, rarely do we know what they are. Moreover, we forget them. Part of the reason I am writing this post is to remind myself what drives me so that I can easily articulate it.
My Top 6 Core Values:
Freedom, Growth, Experimentation, Balance, Building, and Authenticity.
Core Value #6: Authenticity
Authenticity is a convoluted word. I think of it as doing or saying what you wish based on the situation and your feelings, wants and needs.
I’m not trying to say that I am perfectly authentic – I am certainly not. However, we find tremendous benefit in being authentic. Authenticity fosters self-confidence, trusted relationships, and self-awareness.
My inspiration came from a post about authenticity by Scott Britton (The Least Talked About Enemy of Personal Growth). Scott spent four months avoiding any and all lies. I know, you’re thinking – “But I’m no liar!”. Sorry but, you are, I am, and we all are. It’s the small lies that we make to make our lives easier, like the reason we didn’t act on an email, or see a text. These things we don’t even give thought to lying about. I recommend you check out his post to understand this better. (Try his follow-up post about how he received international media coverage about this, too.)
Core Value #5: Building
A big part of building is about helping, improving, and shared growth. These are things that have been important to me all my life. When I was running around playing Pokémon on my Game Boy Color, I’d also be the family computer tech (the WHOLE family).
Pokémon and similar games hit this core value. The games focus on improving and growing from the current state to an ideal state. I love the strategic, tactical developments. It was about incremental, intelligent growth rather than waiting to knock it out of the park.
For me, sharing personal growth is vital. Teaching and helping others personally and professionally makes me thrive. This is where I want my career(s?) to focus. It is the reason I write.
Core Value #4: Balance (Body, Mind, Emotion, Spirit)
I find incredible importance in balance. It goes beyond work-life balance and incorporates body, mind, emotion, and spirit.
Here’s how I break down my areas of balance:
Body: Mixed Martial Arts, Weightlifting, Tea, Nutrition, and Biohacking.
Mind: Tea, Baoding Medicine Balls, the Koto harp, MMA, online courses, blogs, and newsletters.
Emotion: Sharing, listening, talking, growing others, and empathy.
Spirit: Self-awareness, Social awareness, meditation, martial arts, spiritual exploration.
There can be (and should be) plenty of overlap with your activities and the effects on your four areas of life. I could place MMA in all four areas, but choose to place it on Body and Mind as I feel those are most relevant. The fact that MMA can cover all four areas is also the reason I decided to reintroduce it to my life. You need to find those balancing activities, through experimentation.
Core Value #3: Experimentation
Experimenting is my most sought-after pastime. It relates to all my other core values. Experimenting has allowed me to grow (#2) , define and discover freedom (#1), discover that I enjoy authenticity and why (#6), find balance in all four areas of my life (#4), and build the constructs alone and with others that interest me (#5).
My main advice for anyone is to just experiment. Do things outside of your normal routine. Step outside of your comfort zone. You need to do this to understand what brings you life, and what you dislike. You can find a balanced, happy, and exciting life through experimentation.
Core Value #2: Growth
Without growth, instant boredom sets in. This has happened with relationships, jobs, hobbies, education, sports, books, foods, and much more.
Experiences, adventure and self-discovery are at the core of growth. All growth forms from these factors. For me, I live each day hellbent on growth in at least one of these ways. I haven’t always been so conscious of this, but it is a lifelong habit. At 12 years old I built my first website. At 15, my first computer. As a freshman in college, I double majored, joined ballroom dance club, and hit the gym eight times a week (MMA and Gold’s). It was all for growth.
Learning fuels me, and I have a hunger for it. I believe a primary driver is growth. This summer, I have a number of goals and they are all a result of my thirst for growth (you’ll hear about these late August).
Core Value #1: Freedom
Freedom is the primary driver of my quest through life. Freedom is the enabler. It can bring you your deepest desires, your dreams. Of course, it isn’t easy to attain.
To me, freedom is the ability to do what I want. Freedom’s definition changes to each person. I want to travel where I want to, to do what I want to, when I want to.
Big demands? Absolutely. Attainable? I believe so. Will I attain this? Yes. When? We’ll see!
Now Your Job
I want you to start considering what your core values are. Here’s a list of 400 core values, but don’t feel like you have to find yours here. You can make up your own, as long as they are your true drivers.
To Find Your Core Values:
(1) Select your top twenty from the list.
(2) Narrow this list down to your top eight.
(3) Sit on this for 3-7 days.
(4) Revisit your eight values and narrow it down. Shoot for five, but don’t force yourself (you can see that I couldn’t get to less than six).
(5) Revisit these values every few months. Set up a reminder on your calendar so that you remember to revisit this and reconnect with yourself. Understanding what your core values is a great self-discovery opportunity.
What are your core values?
Have you noticed a change in your self-awareness or behavior after defining your own values?