Are you living life by your values?

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Regardless of whether you’re a business owner or an individual, living life by your values is one of the most important things you can do.

If you’re a business, then having clear company values helps you ensure that all your employees are working towards the same goals. Your core values support the company’s vision and help to shape both its culture and its future.

As an individual, having clear personal values is your guiding star. They tell you what kind of person you are, inspire the kind of person you want to be, and provide guidelines, or even imperatives that influence every decision you make. With the right set of values, they can help us navigate through difficult times and important decisions and if truly adhered to, values have the power to determine how your life – or your brand – pans out. Pretty powerful stuff!

But how do you know what your values are?

That’s a question we’ve been working hard to answer recently at Geon Training Solutions. As a business, we’ve gone from strength to strength over the past 4 years, and with 2022 on the horizon, we’ll be open in saying that we haven’t truly understood what our values are until now. 

Our last blog of 2021 is dedicated to walking you through the process that saw us discover our core values, both professionally and personally. with the hope that you can glean something meaningful for yourself to take into the new year.

Our founder & MD Nadia Scott sought huge inspiration from Brené Brown’s book and podcast series Dare to Lead. Dare to Lead explores all things relationships, vulnerability, shame and being present, aligning each area with a strong focus on leadership. The basis of Dare to Lead formed as the perfect narrative to help us. So, here’s how we did it:

Firstly, let’s start with a question. Are you born with your values or do you choose them?  

Although many, particularly in the business world believe that values can be cherry-picked, you may be surprised to read that it’s not that simple. The truth is, values aren’t chosen – in fact the exercise of choosing your values is an impossible task. Values are intrinsic to who we are and are as unique as our fingerprints and DNA. We live in our values so it’s definitely not about choosing, it’s all about finding.

STEP ONE – FILTER DOWN

In Dare to Lead, Brené presents us with a list of values. A diverse set of over 100 including accountability, achievement, balance, competence, excellence, family, giving back, joy, legacy, order, patience, recognition, resourcefulness, travel, wealth, and wisdom (to name but a few). The introductory exercise for each member of our team is to filter this large list of values down to just two core values that we hold close.

Why just two? Well despite most people having a tendency to identify with 10, maybe even 20 values, if too many values on the list are deemed important, then nothing is truly a driver. Less is always more on the Values front.

For the purpose of this blog let’s select two example values:

·       Commitment

·       Creativity

STEP TWO – MAP IT OUT

Once you have identified your two core values, it’s time to categorise and connect them. This means adding supporting or ‘second-tier’ values to your two core values to help bulk them out, and build a bigger picture around WHY these values are so prominent in your life. For example:

·       Commitment – Accountability, Caring, Loyalty, Self-respect, Teamwork, Trust

·       Creativity – Curiosity, Environment, Freedom, Fun, Resourcefulness, Risk-taking

Connecting values in this way adds more meat on the bones to provide greater context and meaning. Eliminating any room for misinterpretation. Though it may not seem a big deal what other people think, misinterpreting values is critical when it comes to the successful implementation of them. How can you build great teams, deliver an exceptional customer service and foster innovation if you or your teams don’t fully understand your values? Nor the story behind them….

STEP THREE – ARTICULATE

Now that your two core values and their supporting values are in place, our next task is to form a sentence for each of our two core values to concisely communicate our WHY. Like any form of affirmation or manifestation, the ability to effectively communicate what we believe in is essential in helping us embed our statements into our reality. But remember, keep it snappy! The idea is to imagine you only have a few short seconds to explain them to another person…

  • I am committed to being the best version of myself because when I feel good, my output is even better. My commitment to my customers and my teammates makes me a trusted partner that anyone can depend on. 
  • I enjoy being creative, not only with my work but with my time. I thrive on constantly finding new, fun and innovative ways to challenge the norm. My creativity lifts me higher. 

STEP FOUR – SHARE

After identifying our values individually, the final part of the exercise is to share our values with the rest of the team. Even though we’ve been working together for years, sharing in this way never fails to amaze us. By discussing and exploring each other’s values, it shines a new light on individuals, connecting us in ways we hadn’t considered before. We may not all share the same values, but our values celebrate the diversities of the group, finding the perfect way to complement one another. That’s the true magic in this exercise. 

Living life by our Geon Values…

Whilst we personally identified two values each, we felt that for Geon, four was our lucky number. Quite often businesses tend to have more professional values than we do personal. On average around three-five.

Identifying your values, be it professional or personal is only half of the story. The next phase comes in operationalising them into your way of working. 

The truth is, our four values have always been embedded in our culture at Geon, because they represent everything we do – we just hadn’t formalised them until now. We are currently mid-way through this next phase of operationalisation, following the great Brene Brown’s step by step guide as we go.

The importance of doing this is to make our values as tangible as possible. This gives our team something REAL to guide them in their day-to-day, and when we look at business growth, it provides a clear set of metrics to measure our success and accountability against. The importance of doing this AS A COLLECTIVE however, is to ensure that everyone is on board with the strategy of how the values will be operationalised, and to give everyone their chance to play a part in our journey.

For the next 10 weeks our MD Nadia will be implementing the principles of Daring Leadership into our business. Defining our values is the first step for cultivating the growth we desire. We look forward to launching our values with you very soon. And until then don’t forget to live life by YOUR values!

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