top of page
  • Writer's picturePilo

What do you mean by "values"?

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

The first time I heard about "values" in a coaching context, it was part of a training I received in my former company. I was participating in a "Coaching Advanced Program". Each of us were asked to identify our values in a long list of words... I found that exercise confusing, both cerebral (finding the right word) and intimate (feeling naked). Leaving that class, I decided I would never use this concept anymore! How would I bring this up in a business context? What would it mean to my colleagues? What would be the benefit?

What do you mean by values? Several years later, I rediscovered the concept of personal values and finally understood it! Values define us! That is why they felt so intimate the first time I discovered them. When we align our choices and actions to our values, we typically feel in harmony with ourselves. We experience our relationship to our values...e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y. When we feel resonance, we are aligned with them. When we feel dissonance, we are misaligned. We have always known our values deep inside but are not always aware of them. This is why naming them can be very useful. Example of values are: Courage, Gratitude, Well-being, Connection, Self-respect, Adaptability, Beauty... To this day, as a Coach, I have not worked with two clients who have the exact same values. And here is something really funny... clients are so familiar with their own values that they think everybody shares the same values! I hear often... "everyone has these values, no?" Good news: you are unique! Bad news: you cannot assume other people share the same personal values than you! This last point sometimes creates a lot of argument and disconnect betwen people.

What values are not! Values sometimes get confused with ethical principles... what's right or wrong. One area of confusion is that companies define their corporate values and train their employees to respect these values. For larger companies, corporate values partly become a way to protect them against legally reprehensible actions (e.g. integrity). They could also invite collaborators to bring their best self to work (e.g. commitment, team work, excellence). This is not what we are talking about here. There is no right or wrong with personal values. They just define who you are!

How do you become fully aware of your values? There are a few ways for you to (re-)discover your own values:

- think of a moment in your life when you felt utterly fulfilled... take a moment to visualise it and live it fully again... what was present in that moment? (e.g. I spent a week sailing in Corsica in October, I experienced flow, peace, harmony...)

- think of people you admire and define the qualities that you see in them... (e.g. I admire Martin Luther King's courage)

- think of people you struggle with, don't get along with... what annoys you in their behaviours... what is not aligned with you (e.g. I had a very directive boss once and his top down orders were misaligned with my strong value of freedom)

- you may also ask other people to see what values they see in you when you take a stand for something in your life (e.g. my wife sees integrity in me when I take a stand for something)

If you work with a coach today, feel free to ask her/him to help you discover your values. This will allow you to develop a short list of values for yourself.

What do you do with them once you know them? Well, first and foremost, keep them in front of you for a while to get even more familiar with them. Be ready to keep changing the list... not because your values change (they don't) but more because you will become more aware of them and want to refine them. Then, practice them in your life. Experience! What happens when your choices and actions are not aligned with them? What happens when you honour them in your life? How do you feel? What are the consequences? How do people react? As an example, I have a strong value of courage. Every time, I play it small or not dare to say what I think, I don't feel I live my life fully. Something is missing. My life experiences are smaller and I tend to retract. On the contrary, when I show up with courage... I feel great, I feel I live my life fully and my positive impact on others gets magnified.

How do you become more familiar of other people's values? Contrary to what I thought the first time I got to work with values, they are not difficult to share or listen to. It can be as simple as asking someone what is important to them or what they stand for. Observe how they resonate or not with their answers. Values will show up around conversations, when working together, when making decisions, when telling stories! People keep expressing their values in various ways... all we have to do is to listen to them and sometimes hear what is being expressed without being said aloud.

Never say never! After finding it a weird intimate concept in the the corporate setting, I rediscovered the power of values today. Most of my clients are actually more naturally inclined to discover and explore their values than I was back then. Today, they are utterly important to me as a human being and to my clients. They help us stand for who we truly are! They give us courage to lead our life fully, with strength and wholeness. As Bob Dylan put it once nicely: "Get born!"

58 views0 comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page