I first heard the idea of getting to know your values on a first name basis from Carley Sime, a Forbes contributor, in her January 2019 article about values. Now I’m hooked.
Let’s think about it like this: Do you have a best friend whose first name you don’t know? Of course not. We know our best friends very well. We know where they grew up, where they live now, where they went to school, the names of their family members (including their pets!), where they work, where they play… It is unfathomable that we would not know the first names of our best friends, yet I bet we don’t know the first names of our values, the most intimate aspects of our own selves.
Carley Sime says our values are our “puppet masters”, guiding every decision we make. If our values are guiding our decisions and our behaviors, shouldn’t we be able to call these values by their names?
So how do we do that? Sime goes on to reference a simple exercise that helps establish your baseline values. I did this exercise myself and came up with Knowledge, Balance, Kindness, Contribution, and Fun. As much as I’ve studied values and taken values-based assessments, this is the first time that I’ve ultimately selected “Contribution” as the first name for the family of workplace values I always associate with each other. Contribution, for me, includes work values like resourcefulness, commitment, accountability, and responsibility. I can honestly say that calling my collective professional values by a new first name, Contribution, is enlightening!
There is a HuffPost article from 2013 that talked about the dangers of having too many values on your list. Robert Dilenschneider said that when employees start to build a master list of values, “they fail to prioritize. A ‘shortlist’ of values is far more useful in putting the workplace back on track.” The above exercise helps us do exactly that – create a “shortlist” – as does the MatchFIT Assessment. It’s like friends and best friends. We have friends who are important to us, and we then have our best friends.
We prioritize time with our best friends. We should prioritize our values in the same way. Let’s get to know our values by their first names.