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The Heart of Values (Values: Part I)

Sadly I guess we’ve all witnessed, at one time or another, couples fighting and ultimately splitting up over money.  One person has money, wealth, or avoiding poverty, high on their list of things that are most important to them.  While the other person is unconcerned and places importance on other areas of their life, such as family, love, appreciation etc.  They may just want enough money to get by, while their partner wants them to not only earn more, but also to want to earn more.

These important things are our values.  Values are what is important to us, they’re not necessarily what we like.  Values create our motivation before we do anything.  Values determine our behaviour and what we do with our time.  Values are things that we obtain resources for and are willing to expend resources for.  And as I’ve covered before in “Carrots and Sticks: Do You Run Towards What You Want or Away From What You Don’t Want?”, they’re what we move towards or away from.

Values are not so much about what you think, but rather affect how you think.  Our values guide us when we judge what we have done, when we judge right and wrong, appropriateness or inappropriateness, and good or bad.  Values are generalizations about our deep belief systems.  Together with Meta Programs (which I’ve also mentioned a number of time before) values form our most unconscious filters of the information flowing in through our perceptions of the world around us. 

Every belief, a conviction we trust as being true, is centred around a value – the value acts as the controlling element.  Values and beliefs together create our attitudes.  Core beliefs and values are those that are important for determining our personality and are the deepest.  If you change a value then the related beliefs will become unimportant – and yes, let’s get this clear here and now, you can consciously change your values and they will change over time as you accumulate new experiences. 

Values are developed both consciously and unconsciously and by matching or mismatching people around us – be they friends, family, mentors, teachers or even celebrities.  The source of your values can be from a multitude of areas – family, friends, church or religion, school, geography/location (where you live), economics (prosperity/poverty), media and major historical events. 

We unconsciously arrange our values in a hierarchy.  As we evaluate our actions, the more important values. i.e. the ones higher up the ladder of priority, are usually searched for first.  After the more important values are found and satisfied, then the next most important ones become relevant.   Just as you can change a value, they can also move up or down in importance and so move in your hierarchy.

So now you understand what your values are and their importance, how do you find out what your values are, or someone else’s for that matter?  Perhaps as a manager you’d like to know what a person in your team most values in his/her job to ensure their values are fulfilled and they don’t go hunting for a new job.  Or perhaps you’d like to understand if a ‘values conflict’ is at the root of your arguments with your partner about money or the fact he never says thank you when you’ve cooked him dinner.  Just like Meta Programs, understanding someone’s values can not only help you predict their thinking and behaviour, but can also help you take action to create a successful relationship, to increase longevity in a job or to fulfil your customers needs.

We generally have 6 values areas in our lives – career, relationships, family, health & fitness, personal growth and spirituality.  Perhaps you have another area specific to you as an individual or you may use a different word to describe one of the areas – you might think of ‘job’ instead of ‘career’ for example.  Values are likely to be different for these different areas of your life.  So if you want to learn about someone’s values, or your own, then you need to make sure you ask, or think about what’s important, in that specific context.

You can find out someone’s values the direct way – for example “In the context of your relationship, as it is now, what’s important to you?”  Then listen to the words they come up with – and when they run out add – “And what else?”  You can replace relationship, with job, career, or whatever life area you wish to cover.  On the other hand you can take a less direct route and ask them to think of a time they were totally motivated in the context of their job, what was the last thing you felt just before you became totally motivated?  As our values create our motivation, whatever they say will likely be one of their values. 

Once you have their values listed – that could be a list of 20 to 30 words or even 100 – you can check if anything is missing.  For example “If all those things you’ve mentioned were present in a job what would make you leave?”  Finally you can put them in order of priority, i.e. a hierarchy, and see which is most important.   Usually those you put in the top 5 will have the most profound effect on your life.  And a word of warning – you answers need to be honest – your values and where they sit in your hierarchy need to be things you really feel are important to you.  They should not be things you believe should be important or that you think others expect you to see as important.  They need to reflect the here and now for that area of your life.

I’ll be revisiting values again in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with the words of  Mahatma Gandhi “Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”

© Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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7 responses to “The Heart of Values (Values: Part I)

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