One day, our team had a special discussion about “values.” There’s a list of about 100 values for us to pick from.
Great, I looked at them and quickly picked 10+ values.
“Hold on. In the next step, please narrow it down to 5 values.” our instructor smiled.
OK, then I need to remove a couple of values from my list by carefully taking a second look.
Then, we are told to select only two values out of 100. This becomes quite difficult for a while.
It’s usually easy to pick a few among lots of selections. However, it’s not easy to narrow them down. Just imagine we go to a marketplace that is full of all kinds of lovely gifts; it’s easy to pick plenty of them. However, if we are told, sorry, everyone can only pick up to 2 pieces, then we have to struggle a bit and painfully decide what to put them back and what to keep.
I look through all 5 values and then evaluate each one of them after careful thinking and comparison. I finally kept 2 values on my piece of a blank online document.
“Then, the two values must be your core values.” our instructor smiled. “Please share your opinions; what does value mean to you?”“Our team has different answers, but to summarize them, the value can mean:
- Our true passion
- Motivation — Important to your principles, beliefs that motivate you; What is important in life, a motive behind one’s actions
- The hidden goal of our motivation. After waking up every day, the value gives us the answer, “What is our goal for today, for our week, for our month, year?”
- What is inherent/good/bad
- Our compass or our north star and the values give us directions
- North Star -guidance to personal and career direction
- Value is our foundation
What is our value, and what does it mean to us?
The concept of “value” is actually deeply rooted in our lives, influencing the choices we make, the relationships we form, and the directions we take.
The core value represents something more profound than mere monetary worth or material possessions. It’s a guiding principle, a moral compass, and a reflection of what truly matters to us as individuals and as a community.
As I explore values, I am reminded of the timeless question: What does value mean to people? In this blog, let’s get started on a journey to unravel the multifaceted layers of value, examining its significance in our lives and the ways it shapes our decisions and perspectives.
Join me in navigating values together and find the profound impact they have on the choices we make every day.
Taking a glance at the list of values
I am not sure how many people had a chance to look into the list of values. Here is a list of core values commonly used by leadership institutes and programs. (source James Clear’s Core Values https://jamesclear.com/core-values)
*Note: This list is not exhaustive, but it will give you an idea of some common core values (also called personal values). There are different versions of values, I don’t think there’s an official “value dictionary.”
When I first saw the list that has 100+ values, I picked plenty of them. When I was told to reduce them to 5, I struggled a bit and removed one after another, just like I needed to take out the stuff that already exists in my shopping cart. Finally, I have to keep only 2. That 2 actually reveals who we are as that must be our “core value” of each individual.
What are my two core values, and how do they impact me at work and in life?
I know you must be curious to know what the two items in my cart are after carefully selecting them. Here are my answers: Growth and Trust.
It reveals who I am and what I care about. The two core values also unwrap me as an individual and explain why some items repeatedly appeared in my life and work.
Now I understand why I like to have a monthly and yearly goal to learn.
If you had a chance to read my annual blog on how I evaluated myself at the end of the year. You can see I have a few items, such as:
- Read/Listen to books for 20 minutes every day
- Piano 30 mins (3 times a week)
- Pray- to grow the spiritual me
- Exercises (30 mins)x (3 times a week)
- Read Marketing Blog every day
- Write a blog every month
- Learn a new course every month
- Watch a movie every month
- 8 hours of sleep every day
- Call parents 3 times a week
Now I have the code to debark my list; they are clear to me now after the decoding: grow my professional knowledge( by reading marketing blogs & learning a new course), grow my spiritual life, and grow my hidden talents (piano and blogging), get inspired (books, movies) and keep healthy lifestyle (exercises) & family relationship.
Because one of my core values is “growth,” I want to grow every day, either physically, spiritually, or professionally.
My dopamine will be released after accomplishing each task on my list. I feel satisfied and joyful after I saw myself accomplishing the task of “growth” from the list.
On the other side, if I don’t feel the “growth” from an environment such as a workplace, or a continuous relationship, or a conversation, I feel my energy level is low, and I don’t have my passion on a high level.
This is another core value I did not notice before, but I picked it out from the 100 values.
Again, I discovered how important “trust” means to me. I will feel very frustrated if I feel I get misunderstood by my friend from time to time. I used to have a friend, but she would distort what I said, so I had to explain. After one time, two times, three times,…I feel exhausted and not worth it. I had to keep a distance from her as I thought the basic “trust” was not there.
There was also one job experience that can illustrate what I meant.
At one job in Canada, the team leader was friendly and always smiled. However, I noticed that he would stand behind me and stare at my screen for minutes without letting me know what he was doing until I noticed his presence. I felt a “distrust” of him and felt irritated and humiliated. I left that company because of that.
I have a sense of satisfaction of “being empowered.” I would excel in an environment where I am empowered and make decisions by myself.
Amazon’s culture is famous for its 16 leadership principles, which also represent its values. I heard that every candidate will be questioned on the value; the interviewer will pick 5 values of the 16 depending on the position. (Amazon’s updated leadership principle link https://www.aboutamazon.com/about-us/leadership-principles)
- Customer Obsession
- Invent and Simplify
- Are Right, A Lot
- Learn and Be Curious
- Hire and Develop the Best
- Insist on the Highest Standards
- Think Big
- Bias for Action
- Earn Trust
- Dive Deep
- Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
- Deliver Results
- Strive to be Earth’s Best
- Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility
We can understand how value impacts the big giant tech company’s choice of employees.
Value impact on relationships
Value matters a lot to relationships; there is a Chinese saying, “三观不合” (misalignment of views on three fundamental values) that leads to a relationship breakup or divorce for many families.
Although there are different names for the three fundamental values, they represent the core values. If all three values are not aligned, it will be tough to stay together as a family or have a steady relationship.
I am using an A and B model below as examples to illustrate the picture of misalignment between partnerships and relationships.
First value: World view
A: is positive, and B is pessimistic,
A believes in god, and B will disagree or talk down for Christian behavior;
Second value: Value of Value
A: Being an honest person, I value truthfulness in all aspects of life. A always tells the truth, even when facing difficult situations.
B: deprioritizes trustworthiness in their relationships.
Compassion: A volunteer at local charities, offers support to friends during tough times and prioritizes kindness as a core value. B is more self-centered and not interested in giving back to the society or community;
Third value: Life Philosophy
A thinks creating one’s own purpose is a life’s mission. A might pursue self-discovery through travel, art, or self-reflection to find personal meaning.
B would like to go with the flow.
A seeks pleasure and happiness as one’s primary goals. A may prioritize experiences like travel, fine dining, and leisure activities to maximize enjoyment.
B likes to save and save and keep money for the next generation.
If you and your other significant partner are aligned on the core values, then, congratulations, you must enjoy a wonderful life journey together as one of the happiest couples on the planet.
Value impact on society
Needless to say, value also plays an important role in our society.
When I first took the sky train in Vancouver, I noticed that there was no exit ticket check after taking a Skytrain. And there was nobody to check your ticket on the train; for example, ticket price will vary depending on how many stops you ride. That means people who are manipulating the rules can pay for 2.5 dollars but take the 4-dollar trip.
During the COVID-19 era, the test kit box was left unattended at the entrance of the drug store, which means each person can take as many boxes of the test kit as they want. However, each one should only take one. I did notice some people took lots of test kits and shipped them to the countries where people need to pay for the test kit. What kind of value was that?
In an ideal world, if everyone is trustworthy, the cost of checking if a person did what they were told would be much less.
Exercise on Value
I asked my son to circle the core values from the list of 100. He picked “efficiency, justice, family and finance stability.”
We can do this exercise on a team, or friends, or a family. I believe the different values will unpack our differences and who we are. It will help us to know each other better.
There is no right or wrong value. There are only different values.
Values can change in everyone’s life, and this change can occur for various reasons:
- Personal Growth and Self-Discovery: As individuals mature and gain life experiences, they may reassess their values. Exposure to new ideas, cultures, or philosophies can lead to a shift in what they consider important.
- Life Events: Significant life events, such as marriage, parenthood, a career change, or the loss of a loved one, can prompt a reevaluation of values. These events often force individuals to reflect on their priorities and what truly matters to them.
- Changing Circumstances: External factors, like changes in economic status, health, or social environment, can influence values. For example, someone who experiences financial hardship may come to value financial security more.
- Influence of Relationships: Close relationships with family, friends, or mentors can impact values. Interactions with people who hold different values may lead to a reconsideration of one’s own values.
- Cultural and Societal Shifts: Wider cultural and societal changes can also influence values. As societies evolve and norms shift, individuals may adapt their values to align with changing expectations.
- Education and Learning: Formal education and continuous learning can expose individuals to new knowledge and perspectives. This can lead to a reassessment of values based on a deeper understanding of various subjects.
- Self-Reflection: Through self-reflection and introspection, individuals may become more aware of their core values and whether they are in alignment with their actions and goals. This process can prompt value adjustments.
It will help us in lots of good ways after discovering our values and how values shape our lives is important.
Understanding values is the guiding light of our lives, shaping our choices, actions, and the relationships we form. They are the invisible threads that connect us to our true selves and to the world around us. Just as a ship relies on the North Star or a steward to navigate the water, our values serve as our moral compass, providing direction and purpose.
As we journey through life, our values may evolve and adapt to the ever-changing world. However, they remain a fundamental part of who we are, guiding us in our beliefs and principles.
Cherish your values, nurture them, and let them be the lighthouse that guides you through the darkest nights and the gentle breeze that propels you toward your dreams. Embrace them, live them, and let them illuminate your path to a life filled with purpose and fulfillment.