Why we need to start with our values

A few years ago I worked with a coach who encouraged me to get clear on my core values. I remember scoffing at the exercise because I was pretty sure that I knew what my values were.

And I did, there’s no doubt. I just wasn’t able to articulate them, which to be frank essentially means that I assumed I knew what they were as opposed to really knowing what they were.

That exercise was pivotal. It allowed me to hone in on areas in my life that I knew from the exercise would support me.

One of my values is community. How I define it now differs from how I did a few years ago, however I want to share how it manifested for me back then.

Recognizing that community was important to me, I became aware that I wasn’t really engaged in any kind of community relationships. So, I decided that honouring my value of community would be through volunteerism. Over time I recognized that I was also craving spiritual community as it had been my habit for a number of years to be solo in much of my devotional practices.

That one realization changed my life in ways that I will undoubtedly hold dear for many years to come.

The first time I stepped into the spiritual center that would eventually become like a second home, I felt at ease. It was clear from every interaction that I was welcome as myself. I wasn’t expected to be anyone else. At that time in my life, this felt like a big relief.

What transpired over the coming days, weeks, months, and eventually years was a deepening into community in ways I didn’t know was possible. My definition of community shifted to one that was more reflective of chosen family than a circle of friends. Community encompassed shared belief systems, ways of understanding the world, and a common language around movement, spirituality, and devotion. It felt, at the time, like a homecoming because at last I could literally be myself and that was all that was asked of me.

I tell this story because I think it highlights the importance of understanding and being able to articulate our values. When we have access to this information we can begin to make choices that align with what we hold most dear. For most people, their values won’t change that much in their lifetime, how they define them likely will.

Our values are foundational. They are unique to us because they reflect our lived experience. While our values may be similar to that of people who surrounded us during our formative years, how we understand, perceive, and define them is very much an individual experience.

Starting with an understanding of our values is at the heart of the work that I do. What I know for sure is that when our values are not being honoured by ourselves, our relationships, our daily experiences we will undoubtedly feel a sense of discomfort, dis-ease, and oftentimes abandonment.

This is why so many people struggle with aspects of their marketing because oftentimes the kind of bro marketing we are told to do is not only counter to our intuition, it is also counter to our values. And when that happens we can slip into diminishment, shame, and feelings of inauthenticity.

When we intentionally acknowledge, honour, and uphold our values we are living from a place of personal integrity — not only to ourselves — our community, our businesses, our family, and more.

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