What are Values?

Our Values are at the route of who we are. They’re what (hopefully) drive our priorities for work, home and in the community.  When your values and your life are in line things feel pretty good. When they aren’t, it can be terrible.


  • You value timeliness. The company you just went to work for has a culture where it’s normal for meetings to start 10 minutes late.  Do you feel frustrated when you turned up on time and others didn’t?
  • You value obedience; your boss requests obedience yet values exploration more – something your team mate also values and demonstrates by not doing what your boss requests but finding different ways to do their job. Do you feel you will get ahead?
  • You value accuracy; the information you are provided to do your job often has errors. Does your day start off well? Do you respect your co-workers?

Understanding your values can be a big help when choosing your career, reconciling work-life balance,  understanding differences of opinion and many other things.

As change makers you may already know some of your core values. If you aren’t sure or haven’t thought about it for a while here is how to find them out.

1. Identify the times you have been happiest. Include both professional and personal situations to get a balance.

  • What were you doing?
  • Who where you with, where were you?
  • What factors contributed to your happiness?

2. Identify the times you have been most proud both personally and professionally

  • Why were you proud?
  • Did other people share your pride? Who?
  • What factors helped make you proud?

3. Identify the times you felt most satisfied and fulfilled

  • What need or desire was satisfied?
  • How and why did these experiences provide meaning to your life?
  • What other elements contributed to your fulfilment?

4. Determine your top values based upon these examples of happiness, pride, satisfaction and fulfilment. Here is a list to start out with. ( Values.pdf)  Aim for approx 10 values. You may find some combine for you. Generosity, Compassion and Community might combine into a value of Service to others for example.

5. Prioritize your values. Rank them from highest to lowest. Easier said than done! This can be the toughest part. Stick with it, though, as understanding the order will really help you.

  • Write your 10 values down on separate strips of paper.
  • Pick up two. Which one is most important? Imagine a real life situation where both are factors. E.g. Stability and Ambition. Would you move house and take the job the other side of the country for a big promotion or stay put and wait for a promotion that allows you to stay in the same town? Visualise a scenario for the first two values and decide what you would do. This gives you the priority order of the first two.
  • Pick up another value and compare to the top of the list. Is it more important or less? If less compare it to the next one down. Use scenarios where needed to get clear. Place this next value on your ladder of values based upon your priority.
  • Keep going like this until all your comparisons are made. This is the order of your values.

Congratulations – you now have your list of values. You know what you value in yourself…. and in others! Just remember their list is unlikely to be the exact match to yours. Try not to judge their choices – they are making decisions based upon their values not yours