What exactly are core values?

core valuesIt is really important to know which qualities you care about in life. This can sound complicated at first, but when you get it, you’ll find it’s quite simple and immensely freeing. These qualities are often referred to as values.

What exactly is a value? The word is generally understood to mean the qualities of life you find important to maintain both your emotional and physical well-being. Life coaching puts great emphasis on knowing values.

When I first started training as a coach, my mentor coach sent me a round of paperwork to fill out asking me what my values were. The problem with this was that I didn’t really know what a value was. He then explained that a value is a trait that I know to be important in the functioning of my everyday life. Wow! At the time, that could have meant anything for me, so for a few years, I muddled along using this concept whilst not really knowing how to embody it.

Then one day I worked with a fabulous strategist, my friend and mentor, Deri. He constantly harped on about values, and I sheepishly went along with him. Rather stridently, I pretended that I knew what he was talking about. We were working on whether I was going to go into partnership with a very prestigious coach and her organisation. It looked like a great idea, but something was wrong, and something was troubling me. Deri asked me what about the situation was bothering me.

“I have problems with the way they’re communicating with me,” I told him.

“Well,” Deri said, “that’s what you hold valuable: Communication! If they’re not working within one of your core values, you’re always going to feel out of sorts or uncomfortable. Now you get to choose whether it’s worth powering through because there’s something to gain in the long run.”

When I examined the situation I knew that I couldn’t work like that. If there is a lack of communication between me and anyone I interact with I find I don’t trust the situation or the person. My understanding of what is going on is weakened and my security within it is threatened.

I don’t care what news you have for me, I just want to know and then I can handle whatever comes my way. If my core value of communication isn’t met, I’m unlikely to feel comfortable and I will, therefore, not be at my best.

At that point, the concept of values and their role in my life became very clear to me.

Values can take a little time and work to really figure out, so stay tuned for the next blog where we will delve into a technique I use with clients to unearth their values. You could always cheat and read the chapter in Give Yourself Permission to Live Your Life (Balboa Press 2014).

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