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What matters most to you?

Learn the importance of identifying personal values.

May 13, 2013, - Download PDF


Tiara Core Values Copyright: olivier26 / 123RF Stock Photo

I travel the country conducting business lectures to “C suite” executives, vice presidents and middle managers. Regardless of the topic, participants always have complaints about the way their organization is run.

Eventually the conversations boil down to the reality that the employee and their leadership (bosses, Board of Directors, stock holders etc.) simply have different values. Employees who deal with customers hold a set of values for the product/service; middle management may have different values and executive decision makers have another set of values which influence their decision making.

What I share with participants is how important it is to clearly identify personal values. Values are guideposts, bumpers, if you will, to tell us when we are lined up with what we want for ourselves. They tell what we can and cannot live with. Most of us would agree that we want to be able to sleep at night. Values help us with that. Making decisions outside of what matters most can make us soul sick — irritable, impatient, aggressive, angry, judgmental. We get this way because we’ve thrown ourselves under the proverbial bus! We get this way because we’ve made choices that are not in our own best interest.

My clients have had great success when they:

  • Identify their values.
  • Identify the organization’s values (not by mission statement, but by how the company behaves).
  • Choose. They can then choose to stay or make a plan for a job change with awareness.

When coaching clients choose to stay with their company, they relax their ideas of what should be and realize that good enough is good enough.

When they choose to leave, clients have success in the transition as well as in their new job because they are determined to pick a company with similar values. Here are some questions I ask of my participants and clients to support them through coaching:

  • What’s most important to you? Write a list of your values. For example: family, spirituality, laughter, contributing, community, fidelity, wealth, health etc. Add to this list as realizations come to light.
  • How often do you consider your values to make tough decisions?
  • How do you feel when you’ve ignored your values?
  • Think of an example of when you made a choice outside of your values. What were the external consequences? What were the internal, emotional or physical consequences?

Our values are our guideposts. They are signs in the road when attempting to make strong decisions. At the end of an argument or conflict, our values can be great tools. Knowing our values help us determine whether we handled ourselves in a way that exhibits our commitment to relationship, fairness, dignity and solution.

In our careers, ownership of our values aids our decision of whether or not our company values are the same as ours. If not, it may be time to make a plan to find work that is in alignment with our values and goals. When your work values are complimentary with your personal values everything becomes easier!


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The Author

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Ellen Burton

Ellen Burton has been called an inspirational leader and a catalyst for change.  Her ability to assist and focus coaching clients on achieving their goals is exceptional. In addition to personal and professional coaching, Ellen is a successful mediator both in the corporate and academic arenas. 

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