Discover Your Personal Core Values
With the Values/Happiness Assessment
Personal core values are our beliefs about what is important to us. And as such, they will be an important determinant of our motivation to pursue a particular course or end in our lives. Personal core values are beacons that summon us toward our greatest emotional pleasures and to the extent that we heed their call we will be happy; conversely, to the extent that we ignore their call we will suffer emotionally.
Rudy spent a lot of years as a tormented man. We learn that as much as he blamed Doris for his unhappiness he ultimately admits that the real source of his angst is betrayal of his inner nature. To be fulfilled as a restaurateur, financial planner or salesman would have required a different mix of talents, interests and values than comprised Rudy’s makeup. It is worthy of note, however, that Rudy was eventually able to adapt a mindset that allowed him more happiness as a salesman by associating his need to “do my best at whatever I do”, a value, with selling cars.
Professional athletes strive for personal excellence in their sport. What drives a Donald Trump, Warren Buffet or Bill Gates to excel? Only they can say specifically what causes them to continue their quest long after money is no object but rest assured, the reason they get out of bed every morning is to accomplish something very important to them that is most likely driven by their core values.
Success through values motivation energizes not only the achievers but often those around them. Which of us have not been inspired to raise our internal bar after witnessing an outstanding performance or reading an inspirational story? It is said about Mother Theresa that pilgrims from around the world, many of them non-Christian, come to pray at her tomb daily and many more follow her example of humble service to the poor and needy.
The savvy business leader will harness the power of their personal core values to define their mission and energize their employees. For example, the Patagonia Company states their mission as:
And from their web site:
“Staying true to our core values during thirty-plus years in business has helped us create a company we’re proud to run and work for. And our focus on making the best products possible has brought us success in the marketplace.”
Their adherence to their values has earned them space on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies To Work For In America” list.
Personal core values come from the same sources as any other belief.
Parents, teachers, coaches, friends– anyone who we consider a credible source can help instill values. Our own interpretations of our life experiences can be a source as well.
Personal core values are a uniquely human characteristic that few of us ever take time to examine. We take actions in order to experience or avoid certain feelings and our values are what move us in those directions. I thought it might be worthwhile to examine my own core values in order to better define my life’s purpose and the source of my joy. I began by asking a simple question:
“What do you want?”
Answer: “In a word, freedom. I want to be able to come and go as I please, do what I want when I want to do it.” I felt that was a worthwhile, if not unique, goal. But my answer was giving me no indication as to how I might satisfy this yen so I dug deeper.
“What’s important to me; what are my ‘values’?”
My first response was, “What are my choices?” which confirmed my suspicion that I needed to get to know myself much better.After some Googling and much soul searching I came up with these eight core values that I believed would propel me towards my holy grail.
- Honesty–tell the truth to myself and others.
- Integrity–firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” Webster.
- Love–I want to feel it as well as give it in massive quantities.
- Happiness–gratitude, positive expectation, absence of fear, lack of self-importance.
- Achievement–accomplishment of worthwhile goals through important, meaningful effort.
- Success–see “freedom”.
- Freedom–see “What do you want?”
- Contribution–application of my innate talents to create something of value to others as well as myself.
I was satisfied that the personal core values I’d unearthed were accurate and were my prime motivators. My next step was to rate how well I was actualizing each of them on a scale of 1 to 10. And now, the scorecard:
Okay, I occasionally tell a little white lie but I value this value so much that I tell the truth even when it may hurt to do so.
I hold myself to high moral and ethical standards and allow myself to be guided by those principles. I rarely compromise my integrity, but I’m sure closer evaluation would reveal room for improvement.
It’s like I’m missing a gene or something; either that or love is highly over-rated. I want desperately to be able to experience both the giving and the receiving. I think that my first step needs to be to learn to love myself.
What day is it? What time is it? Like love, I seem to have a genetic ceiling when it comes to experiencing joy that is below what I would like. On the other hand, how would I know a 7 unless I’ve experienced something higher?
If I was on my death bed right now and my berth after death was decided by what I’d achieved in my life, I fear I’d be in a very long line of people waiting to get past the bouncer at the door to the Lord’s nightclub. I base this evaluation not on measurable things but on the “what did you do with what you got” valuation. I’m a writer, not a salesman. I was given a writer’s tools, not a salesman’s. But I’ve been trying for 35 years to make my fat foot fit into a glass slipper that would allow me entrance to the salesmen’s ball. Fortunately, this whole document is about finding a different shoe that will allow me entrance to an even nicer ball.
“What do you want? In a word, freedom. I want to be able to come and go as I please, do what I want when I want to do it.” My comings and goings are dictated by my job; a job that I fight like hell to tolerate and ain’t that good at. Go to work; come home and eat; sleep; start over. But when I do have time off I typically spend it doing what I please.
In comparison to what I hope to achieve that may be a generous grade. But despite my distaste for selling cars I’ve always felt that it was important work when done with honesty and integrity. For most people a car is the second most expensive purchase they will make. It is often fraught with anxiety, suspicion and doubt; for me to remove these negative aspects and ease the process a bit is a worthwhile contribution to my customers’ mental health.
Success Quotient: 6.43
This number is the result of adding the scores and dividing by seven. (I did not rate myself on “success” as this would be determined by the average of the other values.) So my success to date at manifesting those things that are important to me is about average, run-of-the-mill, so-so. And in an interesting parallel my score for the test is just about the same as my score for happiness; which begs the questions, “Is there a correlation between values actualization and happiness? And if so, how can I use this information to bring more happiness into my life?”
Yes. As stated above, “Personal core values are beacons that summon us toward our greatest emotional pleasures and to the extent that we heed their call we will be happy; conversely, to the extent that we ignore their call we will suffer emotionally.” As for the second question, let’s try to answer it with another question–let’s do that in “Personal Core Values Part II.”
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