In general, I don’t participate in the good values, bad values judgment game. I’m not here to tell you what they should or shouldn’t be.
But I do believe it is essential you know what they are.
There’s a chapter in the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#@k in which the author Mark Manson talks about why it’s essential:
“Values underlie everything we are and do. If what we value is unhelpful, if what we consider success/failure is poorly chosen, then everything based on those values — the thoughts, the emotions, the day-to-day feelings — will all be out of whack.”
Values should be non-negotiable, and so are often inconvenient. I’m adding helpful to that mix. Helpful in this light is not a justification to behave badly or ruthlessly exploit a situation or person. Rather, this helpful informs thinking or doing. It steers you away from harmful situations or things. It keeps things “in whack”.
To learn more about finding your values, click here.
And “out of whack” is what values are in the places where the walk and the talk couldn’t be further apart. Or more insidiously, where the walk gets one layer down, just far enough to feel somewhat sincere, but then something happens to test how real it is, and before you can say “emperor’s new clothes”, the actual values are exposed for all to see.
The burden on what values you value increases under the weight of non-negotiable, helpful and sometimes inconvenient. But it’s a welcome weight that is extremely useful in rooting out the people pleasing ideas masquerading as values.
Back to Manson’s book:
“Honest self-questioning is difficult. It requires asking yourself simple questions that are uncomfortable to answer. In fact, in my experience, the more uncomfortable the answer, the more likely it is to be true.”
Values live most fully in actions — what we choose to do or not do. Which is why our actions are the perfect place to begin the quest. And most of us have gone soul searching when the stakes are high.
But values don’t just earn their value on the big things.
When was the last time you sat and thought about a little thing? Actually thought about it. Not just a momentary reflection on how something turned out. A deep dive into and under it; layers peeled back to expose the messy insides.
Why do I like doing that? Why do they make me crazy? Why am I uncomfortable doing this? Why was I ok with that before but not now?
To find out more about how the little things are the big things click here.
I’m not suggesting you slip into a compulsive pattern of questioning every little thing, all day every day. That would be obnoxious to everyone around you and wholly unproductive. But a regular habit of asking those questions has been identified by people throughout the ages as being a good foundation for improvement — be that of self, an enterprise or organisation.
And once you have a thorough understanding of your values and why they are non-negotiable, helpful and sometimes inconvenient, the real work is just beginning.
See you next week.