Digging deeper into values


I’ve been digging into values lately, so I can start living my values more wholeheartedly.

Some people will probably cringe at the mention of the word values. Perhaps it feels like values have been done to death. I would say it’s actually the opposite – we need to be exploring our values more.  Leadership experts talk about values so often, because values really matter.

When I talk about values, I’m not talking about things you like doing – like travel or gardening. You might value doing these things, but they are not your values. If you dig deeper, underneath a love of travel, you might discover what you really value is adventure or freedom. And under a love of cooking, might be a core value of nurturing or joy.

Values are the essence of who you are, the beliefs and ways of being that matter to you more than anything else.

Here’s a simple three-step process to discover what your core values are and to start living your values wholeheartedly.

  1. What do you think your core values might be?
  2. Why do these values matter to you so much?
  3. What would you be doing if you lived these values?

To explore why particular values really matter to you, it’s useful to reflect on your life. Your core values are the things that have been a driving force in your life story, and the choices you’ve made. Sometimes that life story might seem to be all over the place (mine was) so look for the thread, the organising principle, that kept you moving in a particular direction.

As you go through this process for each possible value, you might discover something you thought was a core value is not a core value for you at all.

Because you’re trying to get to the essence of your being, you will only have a couple of core values, or three at the most. You will have a range of other values that are important to you, but they won’t be your core values. These other values emerge from, or are an expression of, your core values.

I’ll give you a personal example. I value growth, learning, adventure and spirituality. I’ve spent a lot of my life studying and reading, travelling and living overseas, and exploring personal development and meditation. This led me to live overseas in a spiritual community for women for two years, and then to re-train as a psychotherapist.

When I reflect on this part of my life story, when I dig deep, I discover the organising principle, the core value, at the heart of my life choices was growth. I also value learning, adventure and spirituality but these are not my core values. They are all expressions of my core value, which is growth.

These days, I get to help leaders to grow – from the inside out. As a young woman, I never would have imagined that I would end up doing this. But my values led me here. I’m living my value of growth.

Try my three-step process to dig deeper into values. I’d love to hear what you discover.

Maria Brett
The Growing Edge

Maria Brett is a former CEO who has been a practitioner of mindfulness for more than 25 years. Maria’s Emotionally Intelligent Leaders’ Program helps participants build engaged and productive teams, by making deep and lasting changes – from the inside out – to the way they lead. To find out more, contact Maria.

© Maria Brett, 2022