top of page
  • Writer's pictureKaren Caswell

Valuing Your Values

Updated: Sep 24, 2019

During my recent workshop, ‘It’s All About Authenticity’, at the iOnTheFuture6 conference, I spoke about Authentic Self, Authentic Relationships and Authentic Learning. One of the elements of the Authentic Self component, was a section on Values.

Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they're probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.

When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good – you're satisfied, content and experience greater fulfillment in your life. But when these don't align with your personal values, when we don’t honour our values that's when things feel... wrong. This can be a real source of unhappiness, and our mental, emotional and physical state suffers.

Below is a graphic of fifty core values commonly used by leadership institutes and programs. This list is not exhaustive, but it will give you an idea of some common core values. It is recommended that you select less than five core values to focus on—if everything is a core value, then nothing is really a priority. (James Clear - see the list here.)

Our values are a part of us, and highlight what we stand for. Values guide our behaviour and provide us with our own personal code of conduct. When we honour our values consistently, we experience fulfillment, however when we don’t we are more likely to escape into bad habits or irresponsible behaviour to make ourselves feel better.

It takes time and intentional effort to identify our values.

My top 5 values are:

1. Authenticity

2. Justice

3. Kindness

4. Growth

5. Happiness

Authentic: of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine

It’s taken me a while to work out who I really am – I’ve been plagued with self-doubt, I’ve suffered bouts of depression, I struggle with anxiety, and I’ve had to make some choices and changes in the way I live my life. Now that been through all of that and accepted who I am, I realise the only option I have is to be is authentic. I need to be my authentic self in order for others to truly see me. I need to be my authentic self in order to be happy, and healthy. I need to be my authentic self in order to achieve my goals. I simply NEED to be my authentic self.

I also want to help other be their authentic selves too. I want to support, encourage and motivate them to know, understand and accept who they are, deep down on the inside. I want to give them courage to speak up, speak out, and speak their truth. I want to amplify their voices and their impact. I know the importance of all of these things, and I want to help others know that too.

Justice: just behaviour or treatment; fairness in the way people are dealt with

There is almost nothing that angers me more than people using their position or power for their own means. When they manipulate the system in order to ensure they gain the outcomes they desire. The staggering inequities in our communities and across the world, necessitate that justice become a priority for everyone.

That is why I am passionate about raising awareness of social issues, and nurturing kind, caring and active young people who know how to advocate for themselves, champion others and make a positive impact on the world. It may also be why I enjoy watching super hero movies.

Kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate

We all know that warm, glowing feeling on the inside when someone is kind to us. It’s important for our students experience that feeling and learn how to foster it in others. Our classrooms, school and wider communities flourish when we’re kind to each other! We see others more positively and empathise with them, and what’s more, we feel good about ourselves too.

This has been a major focus with my class this year, and I have incorporated many experiences to cultivate kindness and encourage them to show kindness to others. We carry out random acts of kindness, I have facilitated a Twitter Kindness Read Aloud, and we begin an Empathy Read Aloud in a few weeks. Now, more than ever, we need to act with kindness.

Growth: the process of developing physically, mentally, or spiritually

On my life journey I have definitely sailed though many storms. I’ve experienced, and overcome, depression, discontent, disappointments, disillusionment, and doubt. And whilst these challenges certainly tested me (often more than I would have liked), and it would have been so easy to give in at times, I never let any of them defeat me. Nor have I let them define me! I’ve discovered, and learned to accept and love, my authentic self. I’m strong and determined, and believe in myself. I’ve rediscovered my passions! And I’ve finally allowed my true self to shine through, and all of the hard work, self-analysis, and personal and professional growth has paid off.

As a lifelong learner, I believe growth is an essential, and I think one of my strengths is how I model the value of constantly seeking information, ideas and inspiration. My aim is to empower others to pursue their interests and passions and support them to engage in authentic learning, which will lead to their own growth experiences.

Happiness: the state of being happy

This year I turned 45 and I finally feel I’ve come of age. I finally feel I’ve accepted the person inside. I’ve pretty much accepted the person outside – I’d still like to lose a few kilos, but I’m healthy and strong, and I know that’s the most important thing. I’m still working on accepting that I’m 45, but I’m getting there. At the end of the day though, I’m happy with how far I’ve come on my journey. I’m happy with where, and who, I am. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished in all areas of my life. I’m happy with the direction I’m heading. I’m happy that I know there is so much more I have to give. I’m happy that I know I can achieve great things in the future. I’m just happy!

Feeling happy (pleasure or contentment) is intrinsically important, and it has flow on effects and benefits, including becoming more compassionate and feeling healthier both physically and emotionally. We also become more creative, witty, energetic and fun to be around, and who doesn’t want that? Through our own happiness, we give something to others and enable them to feel happy too. Just like the ripple effect of kindness, imagine the impact the domino effect of happiness could have.

Given my experiences, it’s no surprise that these are the values most important to me. It’s also no surprise that during times when my values have been challenged, I have struggled the most. Making a conscious effort to identify your values is so important. Knowing your highest values can act like a guide for you, you get clarity and build your self-awareness by identifying your values. Your values determine your moral compass.

Do you know your core values? If not, it is worthwhile investing some time to identify them.


bottom of page