Discovering Your Values

We all have them; the question is, do you know them? If not, you better figure them out because they have the potential to undermine your leadership.

All of us live by values, whether they are spoken or unspoken. They are the backbone of our external behaviors, attitudes, commitments, and decisions. And many times these externals speak volumes about what we truly value. In the years I have known, consulted, and served under leaders, I've discovered that only a few can successfully describe and identify their values. I think this is a tragic truth for the state of modern leadership, mostly because stated values are the vital component of great leadership. Value alignment is a tell-tale sign of personal and leadership integrity. For example, when we align personal values (known or unknown) with an organization or people who do not support them, we have a plan for career suicide. And on a personal level, when others hear us proclaim a personal value and then act out of line with it, they perceive us as sometimes immature, incongruent, or manipulative. So the question is, how do we name and identify our personal values?

Here are four questions that might help in determining yours.


Mentors | Who has influenced your life?
We all have a list of people to whom we admire. We often call these people mentors. These mentor types usually fit into one of three categories. First, some are passive mentors who are the type that mentor us through their teaching and writing. For example, Simon Sinek is a mentor, but many have never met Simon, they have only heard him speak or read his books, yet he is a passive mentor to thousands. Second, some are occasional mentors who are the type that mentor us once in a while often around issues we are facing. These people might help us strategically or troubleshoot a problem with us but only on an irregular basis. Third, there are accelerated mentors who are the type we meet with who regularly coach us, hold us accountable, and encourage us to be better. They are invested deeply in us and are committed to our success. We each have people like this in our lives who have influenced us, and their values have become our values, or they have helped us discover ours. It might be good to take some time to reflect on these three mentors and how they have shaped your life. It might be good to take a few moments to list the truths they have passed onto you that are continuing to mold your life. These might be clues to your values. (Also, it might also be interesting to name a few leaders you don't admire or don't want to emulate, which may help you discover a value you don't hold.)

Life Crucibles | What has life taught you?
Everyone experiences a crisis at some point. Some people will experience a financial crisis, a health crisis, a career crisis, or a crisis of faith. Each of these events has the power to shape you at the core and redefine what's valuable to you. For example, some people will experience a financial crisis that will reshape how they look at money and its real value versus its assigned value. For others, a career crisis will teach them that identity is not shaped by what you do but who you are. Often the school of hard knocks has the power to reshape our worldview and the things we value. So take some time and list a few life crucibles and consider what this pain has taught you and what personal values arose during this season. Pain, after all, is an influential teacher.

Pet Peeves | What irritates you?
Common everyday irritations are not to be confused with values. However, they often point to what we value. For example, if texting and driving irritate you, then maybe this indicates a value for human life. Or if even sarcasm annoys you, perhaps you have a value for dignity and encouragement. Usually, we find the value in the issue that drives our pet peeves as this "anxiety-producing event" helps us to see our values in a raw and often emotional way. Consider listing a few pet peeves you have, identify why these irritate you and naming the value this points to.

Biblical Convictions | What does the Bible say?
For Christians, our values should align from what we read in Scripture. Our commitment to truth should be anchored in God's truth, primarily because all truth is God's truth and it works every time. His truth needs to be interwoven and lived out in and through our lives. Think through the values you have listed and find the biblical truth that vets them. Give attention to how God wants you to live them out and identify a text for each that you can memorize. Anchor yourself in God truth, character, attributes and the things he values.

What we need in today's world are more leaders who live with integrity. Be a leader who lives with integrity and takes time today to name and identify their personal values. Be that leader today.

Vince Miller Founder of ResoluteVince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.