Clarity of Values

“If we do not have clarity of values, if we don’t have anywhere else to look or focus, if we don’t have that light up above to remind us why we’re there, the cynics and the critics can bring us to our knees.” Brené Brown, Dare to Lead pg 185 – 186

person holding ball glass

Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

So many companies these days have left me extremely disheartened when I see their values or  mission statement, hanging up in an expensive frame on the wall, never again be revisited. Many times the mission statement or value statement is extremely thought out, and the company not only misses the mark they don’t even strive to achieve it much less acknowledge it.

So, it was a knee jerk reaction once I started reading Brené Brown’s part two of Dare to Lead: Living into our Values. Oh, great here it goes a feel good section on “values”. I’m glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised and instead of being a fluff filler to fill out the 200 – 300 pages on leadership, this was one of the most insightful parts of the book and why you should go out and buy the book right now.

When Brené later on pg 189 said, “Our values should be so crystallized in our minds, so infallible, so precise and clear and unassailable, that they don’t feel like a choice – they are simply a definition of who we are in our lives.” I thought great, but why is it so often that is not the case? Then in an apologetic workbook form, Brené gives a list of over a hundred values on pg 188. She then has you go through the list and check off with each value that you resonate with (around 15 for me as the book said it would be) and narrowing them down to two. It’s funny because if you would have asked what my top two values are without seeing this list I probably would not have picked the two I did. But by going through this process I really believe that I hit my top two values that have woven themselves throughout my life.

I look back at my life and see when these things were out of line I was not doing well and when they were in line I was in a very good place. A lot of the other values that I resonated with in some way actually related directly to my two core values, but the two were and are the driving values of my life.

For me the two values that I resonated with were creativity and stewardship. Stewardship for me is not just about financial stewardship, but in every aspect of my life. When I fall in line with being a good steward of my time, my money, my resources, and the things I’ve been given I am at my best. I feel a sense of stewardship when I’m a nurse, in that I am responsible for taking the best care of my patients possible in the time that I am given with them. Stewardship is very important to me. Creativity guides a lot of what I do with making something new. I love having an idea and then working on that idea and seeing it come to life whether it’s a painting, a song, or a business idea.

Brené later on in the chapter goes on to ask the reader to answer three questions about each of their values. They are taken directly from pg 193…

  1. What are three behaviors that support your value?
  2. What are the three slippery behaviors that are outside your value?
  3. What’s an example of a time when you were fully living into this value?

It took a second to get to the heart of what it meant, “three behaviors that support your value”. I mean these are the center of what really drives you. It’s not like making a grocery list. But after getting the hang of it I really saw the value of honing in on those two core values and defining behaviors in and outside my value, and an example when I was living it fully. To show you the process I will give you an example of mine along with what I crossed out to show how it kind of develops into a more meaningful list.

Value #1 Creativity 

Three behaviors that support creativity

  • Writing songs
  • Recording albums
  • Writing/blogging
  • Wanting to grow and learn more
  • Making goals and plans
  • Allow creativity to flow and grow without judgement

Three slippery behaviors outside my creativity

  • judging and criticizing myself and others
  • comparing myself and my creativity to others
  • feeling unworthy being able to create

When did I fully live into my creativity?

  • recording Complete Exposure
  • Producing and songwriting for my albums
  • moving to Nashville

I know each answer to these questions are extremely personal for each person depending on their value and their own experience. I encourage you, when you do read Brown’s book, not to skip these questions or read them and answer them in your head. There is so much clarity gained in seeing where your behaviors supported your values and where they moved away from your values. As many gems are hidden throughout the book, the dividends are tremendous in this small exercise.

Sarah Jackson

Vigilant Poster Girl

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