Perhaps it’s because the United States is in the midst of a contentious election season, but nearly every time I watch the news or read an article, I hear or see the term “values.” And usually, it's used to denigrate a candidate. For example:

– “Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values.
– “Democratic values centered on economic and racial justice shape my own politics. I’m not convinced those values shape [Hillary Clinton’s].
– Ted Cruz suggesting that Donald Trump has “New York values.”

In fact, we hear talk of values so frequently in this negative context, I worry we’ll become desensitized to the term. As a professional coach, I know how important and powerful values are, and why knowing one's personal values is critical to success.

So what is a value?

A value is a concept that is meaningful to you. Your values shape who you are and how you understand the world.

A value can be a trait (honesty, integrity, wisdom, compassion), a belief (God, a Higher Power, balance in the universe, “people are inherently good/evil”), or simply something that’s important to you (family, fun, safety). You may find that some of your values shift over time or in a given situation, whereas others remain fixed regardless of circumstances.

Often times, values are shared by larger groups – a family, an organization, a geographic region, a religion, an age group, etc. Having a shared value system can help a group establish a shared identity, create behavioral expectations, and promote a sense of belonging. However, groups have also (mis)used their value systems to exclude those who don’t conform, creating tension and disruption.

Why are values important?

Our values define who we are and influence how we view the world around us. When we are clear on our personal values, we are better able to make decisions that are consistent with what we believe and who we want to be.

At Caravel Coaching & Consulting, my clients develop a personal vision of success that is rooted in their values. This allows them to set and achieve goals based on what’s important to them – and not on someone else’s agenda.

How can I figure out what my values are?

I’m so glad you asked! My guidebook “Who Do You Think You Are?” will help you identify and clarify your values. And the best part? It’s totally free! Just enter your name and email below, and I’ll send it to you today.

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