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Louise Koeckhoven

Values – the roots that ground us

If I would ask you now if you can name the 3 most important values that guide you, the 3 values that guide your choices, the roots of every step you take in life, and that make you walk away from things that don’t serve you anymore. Could you name them?

Values are the beliefs people have, especially about what is
right and wrong and what is most important in life.
These values control their behavior.
Cambridge Dictionary

Recently, a colleague and I ran a values exercise (see below the blog) for a group of Kenyan entrepreneurs, or better said Kenyan women who have taken the courageous step to set up their own companies. Next to their already inspiring stories of fighting for their own companies, income, and independence, the values session gave me goosebumps. When I asked if anyone would want to share their values with the group and what they meant to me, they didn’t hesitate or get nervous. No, the first hand went up immediately and these women shared their values full of confidence, belief, and strength. I truly believe that it is the knowing of their values that they know why they push through all barriers and set up their company anyway.

This was such a powerful session that it made me reflect on my own values again. They are the things that ground me, which helped me walk away from situations I felt in my core I shouldn’t be in and they made me make the right choices.

Our values are the few things that push back against group pressure and external judgment. They help you make big life decisions. Do you want to become a parent or not, is this the right place to live, are you in the right profession, and do your partner and your friends align with similar values?

So, are you in a situation where you feel something is off, something is just not right, but you don’t know your way forward?

Do the value exercise below and, knowing your values, ask yourself the following questions.
1. Which values are currently harmed?
2. What would the situation look like if it was fully aligned with your values?
3. What can you change to better align to your values?

Values Excercise

  1. In this values list of Brene Brown (below), circle every value you identify with. You can add some if you are missing anything on this list. There is no maximum.
  2. Really listen to your core and only circle the ones you identify with now, not the ones you believe you should or could identify with.
  3. Narrow your list down to 5 values and write these down in a notebook.
  4. Then narrow this list down to 2 or 3 values.
  5. For these 2 or 3 values, write down what your meaning of these values is. Remember, these are your values, they don’t have to align with what anyone else thinks or how the dictionary describes them. They are yours and you determine how they show up.
  6. Write down what happens to you if these values are harmed. What do you feel, how do you react?
  7. Then write down what it would feel like if your life is fully aligned with these values.
  8. Is there a part of life where you’d like to live/act more according to your values? If yes, what could you do to do so?

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