It is fairly common for organizations who want to appear progressive or socially responsible to talk about their ‘core values’. They put a core value statement on their websites. Their human resource departments are tasked with inculcating those stated values into the company culture. Company employees, especially the corporate executives, can inform anyone who asks what are the organization’s core values. And, some of those companies may even conduct their actual day-to-day business according to those stated core values.
What about you? If some random stranger were to ask you what your personal core values are, would you be able to clearly and concisely answer?
Have you ever even asked yourself what core values you have?
If not, I encourage you to do so now.
What exactly are your personal core values?
It is quite important to know clearly what your essential core values are. They define your beliefs. They motivate your actions. They formulate your opinions. They influence your thinking. They determine, to a large degree, how you live your life and what degree of purpose and meaning you have in your life.
They define who you are as much as they define what is important to you. If you do not know what your core values are, you cannot fully come to know yourself. And, if you do not know yourself, you cannot ever become a fully self-actualized human being. And, if you not know yourself, you do not really know anything.
In other words, knowing your core values brings value to your life.
I may be a slow learner. I had walked around on this planet for more than four decades before I ever asked myself what were my own core values. And then, it took me almost a full year to fully identify them clearly and concisely enough to be able to answer anyone who might ask me what they were. (I have appended my personal core value statements at the end of this missive.)
So, let me ask you again, what exactly are your personal core values?
I had to do some deep soul searching to discover my own. Despite the fact that my education includes psychology and philosophy, I was unaware that psychologists had compiled a list of the common human core values. That listing may make your own self-examination to identify your own core values a little easier than my own quest; so I have appended it below.
To encourage you to undertake this task of identifying your own personal core values, let me assure you that it is worth the effort.
Identifying your core values will empower you to live congruently. Your life, when lived congruently with your core values, will bring a sense of clarity and purpose to what you do and why you do it. Living with clarity and purpose will bring meaning to your day-to-day life. Having meaning will bring fulfillment.
Additionally, identifying your core values will empower you to achieve personal clarity about the value (or lack thereof) of: your inherited and unexamined beliefs, your predominate pattens of thinking about yourself and your world, and your emotional attachments or responses to ideas, ideologies, philosophies, people, places, events or circumstances you encounter on your journey through life.
In other words, knowing your core values makes it a lot easier to live a successful and fulfilling life with less struggle and personal angst.
If you are ready for that, here is a list of traditional human values identified by psychologists as being the motivating forces in the lives of individual human beings. Some of these also become cultural values within an organization or society.
It is fairly easy to look at this list and identify with many, if not most, of the values listed here. In order to get clear about your most important personal values, you need to hone this list down to between five and ten of the 171 listed below..
This will take some personal reflection. It may help to print this list out. Circle the ones that jump out at you. Cross out the ones that seem less important. Rate them on a scale of one to ten. Then do that again until you have pared this list down to a maximum of ten and a minimum of five.
You will know when you have identified your five to ten truest and most resonate core values when, sitting with eyes closed and after getting centred, you say the words out loud and in response, you feel like your soul expands.
Common Core Values
Acceptance Accomplishment Accountability Achievement Adaptability Altruism Ambition Awareness Balance Beauty Boldness Bravery Brilliance Calmness Candour Capability Carefulness Certainty Challenge Cleanliness Clarity Cleverness Commitment Common sense Communication Community Compassion Competence Confidence Connection Consciousness Contentment Contribution Control Conviction Cooperation Courage Creativity Credibility Curiosity Decisiveness Dependability Determination Devotion Dignity Discipline Discovery Drive Empathy Empowerment Enjoyment Enthusiasm Equality Ethical Excellence Experience Exploration Fairness Fearlessness Feeling Fidelity Focus Foresight Fortitude Freedom Friendship Fun Generosity Goodness Grace Gratitude Greatness Growth Happiness Harmony Health Honesty Honour Hope Humility Imagination Improvement Independence Inquisitiveness Insightfulness Inspiring Integrity Intelligence Intuitive Joy Justice Kindness Knowledge Leadership Learning Liberty Logic Love Loyalty Mastery Meaning Moderation Motivation Openness Optimism Orderliness Organization Originality Passion Patience Peace Performance Persistence Playfulness Poise Potential Power Productivity Professionalism Prosperity Purpose Quality Realistic Reason Recognition Respect Responsibility Reverence Rigour Risk Satisfaction Security Self-reliance Selfless Sensitivity Serenity Service Significance Simplicity Sincerity Skillfulness Spirituality Spontaneousness Stability Status Strength Structure Success Support Talent Temperance Thankfulness Thoroughness Thoughtfulness Tolerance Toughness Tranquility Transparency Trust Trustworthiness Truth Understanding Uniqueness Unity Valour Victory Vision Vitality Wealth Wisdom Wonder
Once you have selected your five to ten core values, walk around with these in your mind for a couple of days to see how well they resonate with you. You might then decide to come back to this list and double check to see if they are the ones that stand out against all other as being the prime values that, if not honoured, would cause your soul to shrink.
The next step is to take each of these words and write it into a value statement that expresses what it means to you and how you choose to live your life.
My personal core value statements follow. Please note that these are only personal examples, not suggestions. Create your own.
It is not my intent that you take my values on as yours. You already have too many things imposed upon you.
I believe that the originating creative force of all that is, Creator, is sacred and is present within its Creation. Therefore, I honour all creation as being sacred. Reverence is my primary core value. Above all, I stand in reverence.
When I invest myself fully into the relishing of the great gift of life, I honour both my creator and the sacredness of my own life. Enjoyment is one of my core values. I relish being alive.
In that I am unique, only I can have my perspective and only I have my attributes, therefore, I am compelled to honour the gift of my life by being creative and contributory. Contribution is one of my core values.
I understand that gratefulness to life brings a great fullness to life and therefore know that the value of my life is greatly enhanced by my constant expression of gratitude for all things and events in my past, present and future. Gratitude is one of my core values.
Compassion is the highest of spiritual attributes. Since all things are sacred, I must demonstrate my understanding of that by extending my compassion to all. Compassion is love in action. Compassion is one of my core values.
My ability to choose is a sacred honour. I am free to choose to denigrate or to elevate. Free to honour the sacred or to not honour the sacred. Free to think for myself. Free to be me. Free to choose the purpose of my life. Free to choose my core values. Freedom is one of my core values.
The abundance exemplified by Creator and Creation is mine to share. My desire is that all should prosper. My contribution must reflect that desire. Prosperity is one of my core values.
To waste my mind by not pursuing wisdom is to profane the sacred gift of consciousness. Seeking to understand and to come into harmony with the infinite ineffable source of all that is, with Creator, is what I am called upon to do. Wisdom is one of my core values.
I am integral to universe. I aspire to be worthy of that by always being real; by wearing no masks, by being authentic. I reveal my self as I am. I aspire to act in accordance with Creator. Integrity is my core value.
My core values are the compass that guides my life.