(It's worth reading the first part of this series of blog posts about the Venturer's Map if you haven't done so already.)
There is a lot of chatter online about core values, and I am one of the guys talking a lot about them.
When I took the mantle at Jersey, the first thing we did was to define the core values. When we started our own professional skincare range of products (Oqibo), the first thing we did was to define the core values. When I do consultancy, I want to understand the core values.
In business, core values are foundational because they are the foundation to your business culture. Books like Delivering Happiness have been an eye-opener for the business world about the value of values.
But it's not just in business that they are important. It is also important to understand your personal values, because they define your life. They are the expression of what is most important for you.
An extract from The Art of Venturing
Just what are values?
They are principles, moral standards, by which you will operate. Values are your creed. They are your boundaries.
Granted, 'boundaries' is not such a hot word to use these days, it is not very PC that is for sure. Why subject yourself to boundaries in a world that seems to be promoting the opposite.
The answer is simple, because values lie at the heart of Venturing.
Venturing, without principles leads to anarchy and it leads to chaos. It leads to the pursuit of pleasure regardless of the cost to others. Venturing is not devoid of responsibility, on the contrary, Venturing deeply understands it's responsibility.
The truth is, we all have a set of values. We may have never verbalised them, written about them or defined them but we have a value set. We have principle and moral standards by which we operate. Most of us, for example, live by the principle that life is sacred, and we don't have the right to take some one else's life away from them. We invest a lot of time, energy and money into saving lives in our society. It is a moral principle by which most of live. It is one of our values.
If I understand that this is one of my values, then it makes sense for me not to start an assassination business. It doesn't sit well with my values. Venturing into assassination is not something that I should do. It is a boundary that I am happy with.
OK, this is an extreme example but it is one that I am fairly sure we all agree on.
What about something closer to home, perhaps something that we don't all agree on: porn.
Why this example? Well, one of the companies that I own is a web design company and inevitably, someone came to me and asked me to create a porn site for them. It would have been an easy thing to do and, no doubt, highly profitable and trust me when I tell you - we really needed the money at the time.
The trouble is, my values don't sit well with porn. I may be idealistic, naive and out dated but it is just how I am. I think that porn is addictive and actually quite destructive, especially to families. I have a daughter, and too be honest - I don't want her going in to that business. You may have a different view. Your value set and mine will differ on this subject, and do you know what - I am OK with that because we are all wired differently.
So, what do you do when you need the work, need the money but what you are being offered is outside of the borders of your values. You turn it down, you don't Venturer beyond who you are as a person and what you hold true. You don't need too - life is big enough and has more than enough to offer you in what you do value.
I wouldn't have enjoyed creating that site, but man alive did I enjoy the stuff we did do. I may not have had as much money but I was happy and content because I was Venturing in the realms of my values.
So, how do you discover your values?
Well, there are a number of different exercises you can do:
- Look over a list of values and pick out the ones that resonate. This is the quickest and easiest thing to do but not one I would recommend.
- You can do an exercise called the Mountains & Valleys exercise. This takes a few hours to do and I have done this with numerous groups and individuals with good success. It takes a few hours and it is worth the time.
- An exercise called Eudoo, and for me - this was the best exercise of all. This takes more time, and you often need a coach to work through the process with you so can cost money.
* * * * *
In the remainder of this post, I'll talk about the Mountains & Valleys Exercise. The Eudoo I mention is much more involved, so will leave that to the book!
Mountains & Valleys Exercise
The basic premise for this exercise is that Values are discovered and not created. So at some point in your life, your core values would have been present or missing and, either way, had an effect on you. You are not writing a wish list of values, you are looking at your life and discovering what is already there.
Step One: Draw your life line.
One a piece of paper, draw a horizontal line, beginning the year you were born through to present day. Mark every 5 years on the line.
Step Two: Add Key Events
If someone were writing your story, what key events would they write about? They can be positive or negative, but they are significant. Put those events on the appropriate place on your time line.
You are looking for around 10 key events.
Step Three: Score the Events
This might sound a little unorthodox, but worth doing. I normally ask folks to score the event from 1 to 5 (if positive) or -1 to -5 (if negative). Scoring 5 for positive event means that it was an amazingly amazing - one of the best experiences of your life. Conversely a -5 is one of the worst experiences of your life.
Step 4: Identify values
At each of these events, identify what values were present (positive events) or what values were absent (negative events).
You may find it helpful to speak this through with someone who can help you pull out the information that you are looking for.
Step 5: Hone your values
You should have about 10 life events with one or more values listed against that event. At this stage, normally folks have identified 7-15 values, often with some overlap.
So now, look at those values and look for anything deeper, anything that connects them. Are there values that you would valiantly stand up in the face of antagonism? Could you live without?
Your looking for 3-5 values.
Once you have your list, write them down and why it means so much to you. If you can, avoid standard rhetoric. For example, integrity is often a word people come up with. The trouble is, that word is so over used and has almost become meaningless that it's hard to use. What is it about integrity that really floats your boat? Is it being dependable? Is it keeping your word? Is it being honest? Dig deeper and understand what it is that you like.
So if it's honesty - again dig and dig. Why do you like honesty? Is it because you hate being lied to? Is it because you hate it when there is a lack of clarity, so it's not a lie you are being told but rather something that is murky and can be open to misinterpretation?
This exercise should take several hours to do, and when you have your 3-5, you should feel like you've got it right. That you are happy to write those values next to your name on your email signature and business card. People you know should resonate with them.
Then, add them to your Venturer's map, and if you so inclined - share them below! (My core values: Try, unDefault, Fun & Legacy).