Talking to people about what is important is always an interesting and dynamic discussion. Recently I took a group through a values assessment. We discussed how values impact our decisions, relationships, spirituality, business and work. This is always a powerful and insightful experience for the participants. If you understand someone’s values you can predict their behavior. When we do the values assessment for the first time, there are always some surprises. Looking at your values is not something that you do every day. Growing in this area can be challenging but it is really worth it. It requires asking the right questions and time for personal and spiritual reflection. If you are on this path, don’t quit!
During an assessment, people typically select values that they think are important, but have not internalized. Many will pick values they aspire to, or ones that they think will bring them success or acceptance. We call these idealized values. Or they may choose ones that people imposed on them which they have internalized but are not congruent to their true selves.
The best way to get clarity about your values is to go through the list of values a second time and provide evidence that supports them. This is key because you can determine a person’s value system by their behaviors and where they spend their money.
This gap between the ideal and the realized is very important to understand. If there is a difference between your first selection and the second, then a reconciliation of the gap is needed. When one understands the gap, people usually have an “aha” moment and the lights go on. It can often provide insights to relationship dynamics and life decisions.
Imposed values are called interject values. These have been forced into your thinking at some point in your life. For some, the American dream may have become an introjected value system: go to school, work hard, get an education, get a good job, buy a house, have a family and live happily ever after. I have worked with many clients who have taken this path and when they hit about 30 or so, they are asking themselves what’s next because they have not found their sweet spot and they are not connected to their core values and purpose. They have gone through the motions without understanding their “why”.
Here is a picture of an oyster with a pearl inside. During my talk the other day, I shared how if you embrace the personal irritations that may come from life, it can tutor you in evaluating the values gap you may be experiencing. If you don’t run away from the irritation, and treat it like a golden nugget, it can serve you well. It may lead you to what you really value and in turn be very valuable. Perhaps it is a dormant or buried value that is connected to your life purpose? So I would encourage you to embrace the irritations that come your way. Ask some simply “why” questions to find the cause of the irritation. It may connect you to something that is really important. On the other hand, it may not. But don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t. You will eventually find the pearls of great price in your life.
Here are seven key things about values that we talk about in our workshops about Values and What is Important in your Life.
1. We inherit most of our values
2. Values guide our destiny
3. Values are idealized and real
• Idealized are not actualized but something you aspire too
• Real values are authenticated by choices
• Introject values are imposed and adopted by you
4. Many of us lack values awareness and clarity
5. If you don’t know your values, prepare for pain
6. Every time we have difficulty making a decision it can be traced to a values clarification issue7. Incongruity in values = dissonance, dissatisfaction, and pain
7. Incongruity in values = dissonance, dissatisfaction, and pain
• Source of frustration
• Energy drain
• Negative attitudes
Take the time reflect on what is important to you and work towards making those connections. When you are living a life where you have values clarification and congruency, you will find that life is much more satisfying and filled with less inner turmoil.
We went to see the movie Hugo as a family for my younger son’s birthday. Afterwards I asked my older son to write a review. We were significantly touched by the theme about finding one’s purpose and living a life of destiny. Check out my son’s review. He is a great writer and it is worth the read.
A few weeks ago I went to see Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” with my family for my brother’s birthday. I thought it would be a great, relaxing, fun film for the whole family to enjoy given its high ratings and astounding director. It would be a great bonding experience, and everyone would love it. As it turned out, “Hugo” was anything but relaxing. Even in such a simple story as Scorsese took on, he still managed to infuse it with intense, heart wrenching scenes that felt more vivid and beautiful than life.
His sets were astounding. The entire film revolved around the inner workings of a Parisian train station, with tunnels and lofts filled with steam and clocks. While at times the animation was apparent, it was still an incredible sight to behold: entirely dazzling.
However, when looking past all the beautiful sets and powerful plot lines, one sees something much deeper and more meaningful. Rather than simply being a fluff filled kids movie, “Hugo” begs the question of human purpose and destiny. At the very top of the clock tower in which Hugo works, he turns to a new found friend and explains his place in the world. He is there to fix the machines when they stop working—to repair and restore the broken. Even in a world as large as Paris, he matters: he has a purpose. This line only expands with the evolution of the story line. It turns out that everyone around Hugo has some deep seated purpose that they were designed to fulfill, and when they fulfill this role they find true happiness.