Do you know your Values? Is it important?

I recently had the chance to work with some clients on identifying their values. An interesting exercise. While most of us think we know what we value, when we have to narrow it to a select 2 or 3, it’s a hard process.

Most of us easily say we value family, and our health. But as one of my clients concluded, for her, those are just givens – “fundamentals.”.  She found that her values were something different – something that impacted her behavior and reactions – particularly at work.

For another client, family was a core value. She happily and comfortably made decisions, with her family in mind first. She easily let people know that she would always be making decisions with her family in mind – and that provided her comfort. That’s was OK too.

The essential part of values is identifying them. Just as unique as we each are, our values will be just about as unique. They’re personal – they’re specific to you. The important part is taking the time to know them.

Why so important you ask?  What I’ve observed is that once people identify their top one or two values, they are able to be more self-aware – increase their emotional intelligence. Once someone knows their values, they are better able to understand their reactions to different situations or people.

For example, I’ve determined that one of my core values is openness. For me, it’s important that people are open with me and I need to be able to be open in return. Openness allows me to work faster and do a better job. It alleviates questioning and second guessing, letting me build trusting relationships.  By knowing openness is so important to me, I can see when and why I find certain situations difficult. I can’t change those situations, but by understanding why a situation is hard, I can manage my reactions and make better decisions about what I do.

The same held true with one of my recent clients.  Once she understood that a work situation was in conflict with one of her core values, she could view the situation more objectively. She stopped blaming herself, thinking she had done something wrong, and instead began to make decisions that were more consistent with her values.  She found a new sense of freedom and a renewed sense of confidence.

So, is it important to know your values?  I say definitively, yes!   Knowing your values helps you to better know and understand yourself.  As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.”  But first, you need to know yourself!

Reflection Exercise:

  • Spend some time noticing what’s most important to you. As you are making business and personal decisions, what factors are driving you?
  • When are you most comfortable? What’s driving the comfort?
  • When are you most uncomfortable? What’s driving the discomfort?

Time spent thinking through these situations will help surface your values. If you’d like to receive a specific tool to help you identify your values reach out to me at