Coming from a background in advertising I learned early on about the power of ‘brand values’.
‘Brand values’ are essentially the core essence of what makes up a brand and I’ll explain this in a bit more detail in just a second.
It always fascinated me how as ad execs and strategists we would spend weeks or even months developing values for other people’s brands, yet would spend not a minute or even a second analyzing what our own values might be.
Personal values are in my opinion one of the most important things you can do to understand what’s unique about you and I’m going to explain why.
But first, we’ll get back to ‘brand values’ as this paints part of the picture…
I’ll start with an example.
Safety and reliability are two of the core brand values for the car brand Volvo. Everyone knows that Volvos are renowned as safe, reliable vehicles. You’ll even see this language used a lot in the way that they market their cars.
Take a look at technology giant Apple and it’s immediately obvious that ‘Innovation’ is a core value here. And you can see this ‘essence’ coming through the products that they release. As a company, they are known for developing innovative, fresh products.
So brand values reflect the very essence of a brand.
What are personal values?
Personal values are the essence of who we are.
So – not too dissimilar to ‘brand values’ – personal values also represent the core aspects of our self.
Everyone’s different. We all have little nuances that make us who we are. And the more we understand ourselves, the more self-aware we become and the easier it is to live a successful life.
The process of discovering your personal values involves not just discovering what you’re passionate about but also finding out what’s really important to you.
For example, ‘progress’ is one of my personal values. It’s important for me to be constantly ‘moving forward’ in life. I like to ‘get things done’ so productivity and achievement is also important to me and that’s evident by the choices I’ve made in life. I’ve made it a priority to achieve things like a 1st class honours degree, starting a business in my 20’s and even launching this blog.
I believe, we should frequently be asking ourselves what things are important to us and we should live our lives according to those things – instead of other menial things that we often waste our time and energy on.
Someone once said to me:
“Never let the things that matter to you the most, be at the mercy of those that do not.”
But the truth is, most people coast through life without any kind of consideration for what is truly important to them. This means that unfortunately for many, life is something that ‘just happens’ to them.
The reality of the situation is this:
If you don’t take control of your life, someone else will.
Personal values offer a form of focus because it becomes clear to you what’s important to YOU and no-one else.
Because let’s face it – if we don’t know what’s important to us, how can we live a meaningful life?
Another reason why personal values are so important is because it becomes clear to us when we are experiencing a ‘values conflict’.
If you’ve ever felt really frustrated or angry about something, it’s likely you were experiencing a ‘values conflict’.
This is where there’s a conflict with what’s really important to you.
Take my earlier example of my personal value: ‘progress’. I have many many times experienced a values conflict when I’ve felt like my ‘progress’ was being compromised. Usually on a bad technology day where my computer crashes, or things don’t seem to work as quickly as I’d like them to!
But the great thing is, since identifying my values I’ve become more self-aware and I now realize when this is happening.
I’ve learned to find ways of dealing with a ‘lack of progress’ because it’s clear that this is what causes me unrest.
Sometimes – just understanding why we feel frustrated, can help us move forward.
Living someone else’s values
Another example of a values conflict might be when we are living a life according to someone else’s values.
This is very common among family members. Often children will pick up their parents values instead of their own. You see this where a son may have been pushed into becoming a lawyer by his father when he secretly wanted to be an artist. Law may have been important to his father, it doesn’t mean it will be to him.
And you can never be happy when caught in the middle of a values conflict.
If you take the time to identify your values they will become your own personal framework for successful living.
Because once you know what’s important to you, you’ll never waste another second on things that don’t matter.
Simple Life Strategy: How to avoid a values conflict
Identifying your values is a lengthy process that to be honest, takes at least a month. I won’t go through the full process here, I am though currently developing an online course that goes through step-by -step instructions for identifying your values.
I’ll share that with you as soon as it’s finished and there may even be the chance for some readers to pilot the course before it goes live. More details to come on that one.
In the mean time, here are a few starting points for avoiding values conflicts:
1. Notice when someone else is trying to force their opinion or values onto you. They may say things like ‘You will LOVE this….” Or “You need to be doing this…”
2. Remember, no matter how persuasive they may sound, and how good their intentions might be, other people don’t know what’s important to you. Only you know what really matters to you.
3. Instead of going along with what others say all the time, check in to see if what is really important to them, is to you too (it might well be, and that’s fine, but if it’s not then you have a right to disagree)
4. Know that it’s OK to have different values to other people (even if you don’t know what your values are yet – you’ll know when you’re going along with others just to keep the peace)
5. Start to think about what’s really important to you and less about what others think
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