A person’s core values are a fundamental set of principles that help to guide their thoughts, words, and actions throughout life. It takes a lot of deep internal work and sincere reflection to be able to zero in on what these core values are, but it’s well worth the process.
As a performance coach, I have many conversations with clients aimed at helping them go through a process of identifying their own core values. Often times, people can throw out a long list of things that are important to them, but the challenge is to filter that list down to a handful of core values that they deeply connect with in their life.
Our core values help us to stay aligned in life. They also serve as a guide post when making important decisions in our life or when we are faced with very difficult times.
I’ve coached a number of different leaders around their core values and many of them admit that they are often misaligned. When we go through a process to get them realigned, it always helps them to make better decisions, especially during times of conflict and challenge.
Sir Winston Churchill’s quote above is a wonderful reminder that when times are tough, we need to always return back to first principles or our core values. Doing so helps to get realigned and to stay aligned with more consistency.
So, if you have not thought deeply about what your core values are, try this out. Look at the list below. Out of all the words in the list, select the top 8-10 words that stand out the most to you. Which ones are most relevant to you and your life? Once you have selected your 8-10 words, cut the list in half. No easy task, but do this.
Adaptability, Adventurous Spirit, Affection, Ambition, Authenticity, Compassion, Competitiveness, Confidence, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Curiosity, Decisiveness, Dependability, Determination (grit, persistence), Discernment, Empathy, Engagement with Others, Focus, Forgiveness, Fortitude, Generosity, Gratitude, Honor, Humility, Humor, Justice, Kindness (love, caring), Love of Learning, Loyalty, Moral Courage, Moral Integrity, Motivation, Open-Mindedness, Optimism, Organization, Patience, Personal Courage, Positivity, Prudence, Punctuality, Resiliency, Respect, Seeking Challenges, Self-Awareness, Self-Control(willpower), Tough-Mindedness, Trust, Truthfulness, Vitality, Wisdom
List of words above taken from Jim Loehr's work around Leading with Character (click any of the words to go directly to his work)
Now, write your 4-5 words on a piece of paper and tape it to your door. For the next 10 days, when you leave your house in the morning look at the list. When you return home later in the day, reflect on the list and to what extent your thoughts, words, and actions aligned with your list of core values.
Rank yourself out of ten. Ten being demonstrated the core value with depth and consistency. One means you didn’t even come close to demonstrating the core value.
This thought exercise may give you that little push or spark needed to better align your thoughts, words and actions to your core values. You might find that after ten days, your list needs to change. Who knows? This exercise is well worth your effort.
I challenge you to complete this activity and would love for you to share with me how it went. Thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.