In my book ‘How to Be Brilliant‘, I describe values as being right up there with oxygen’.
Meaning if you get your values right life is easy. Get them wrong and you’re in trouble.
Values are the classic subconsciously ‘learned behaviour’. We aren’t born with them, we rarely sit down and plan what they should be; we just acquire them.
And that’s the danger.
Having a set of values that you ‘just picked up’ is fine if the people who are teaching you those values (by their behaviours) are positive role models.
But what if they’re not? Or even more dangerous, what if you think they are but they’re not? Your values make you who you are.
During one of my programmes, part of which taught attendees how to identify core values, a participant revealed he had a list which included:
‘Passion’, ‘Winning’, ‘Success’, ‘Power’, ‘Achievement’, ‘Being Best’ and ‘Obsession’.
The next stage of the exercise was to write a description of the person you would ultimately want to become – what you wanted to be remembered for.
His list included:
‘Compassionate’, ‘Healthy’, ‘Loving’, ‘Understanding’, ‘Generous’ and ‘Relaxed’.
A slight values clash? What do you think?
Here’s an exercise:
Step one. Make a list of your current values.
Here’s a list to help you get started, select the ones which honestly describe you and then add your own:
Success Fun Passion Greed Enthusiasm Power Worry
Love Health Honesty Recognition Control Jealousy
Excitement Blame Security Contribution Creativity Fame
Now write a description of the type of person you ultimately want to become.
Ask yourself if the first list represents the values of the person you ultimately want to become.
If it’s a ‘yes’, then that’s easy just keep on doing what you are doing.
If it’s a ‘no’ or a ‘maybe’ then ask yourself, ‘What are the values of the person I want to become?’
Then when you have this list, work every day to live your life to those values and you’ll become that person.
Sounds too easy?
We aren’t usually conscious of our values. They tend to exist at a subconscious level, which means that we don’t spot the challenges when they sneak up on us.
Here’s an example.
Perhaps one of your values is ‘Jealousy’.
Whoa, wait a minute, can that be a value?
Do you look at what other people have and feel jealous? If you do that on a regular basis then that’s a value.
I know it may seem like a negative one, but nevertheless it’s a value.
So imagine you accept this then go to your description of the person you ultimately want to become and there’s no hint of a person who is jealous.
It’s time to re-program. In order to re-program your values you have to hold them in your conscious mind and take action.
One of the best ways to do this is to write them down. If you can, create a small laminated card with your values printed on. Use this as your reference.
When you catch yourself using a negative value, one you don’t want to be associated with, take out your card and find the value which is closest to the opposite of the negative one you have just felt.
Let’s go back to jealousy. You catch yourself being unnecessarily jealous of a friends new car, and rather than sharing their excitement you find you are having thoughts along the lines of; ‘How did they afford that?’, ‘I should have a car like that’, etc.
Remember your ‘new’ values list then select a positive value for this occasion. It may be something like, ‘Generous’. So be generous with your excitement, be generous with your praise, be generous with your compliments.
Here’s the exciting part. You can very quickly eliminate jealousy and replace it with more positive values.
As with any technique it works best if you
a) Throw yourself in to it
b) Believe it’s going to work
c) Keep at it
Once you have written your values and the description of the person you ultimately want to become, read it every morning and every night.
I promise you will create an amazing energy which will help you to live those values every day.