Yesterday we looked at the how our beliefs and expectations around learning can actually hinder our ability to transition to change. Today we’ll look at another whopper that can make or break a change effort; our values.
Values are often hidden, yet can be incredibly HUGE influencers to our perceptions, beliefs and behaviors when it comes to change. They pull the strings in ways we often never notice, yet it is these strings that determine whether or not we are able to adapt to a change, and how well that transition goes.
Today we’ll only just touch the surface of values, but even being aware of where and how they show up will be a great advantage to gauging how well you are, or aren’t transitioning.
The myth of core values.
I believe we have been misled by attempts to make us think it is easy to recognize our values. I can’t tell you how many times I personally have been asked during a workshop or coaching session to make a list of my core values, as if they are constantly flashing in bright neon lights at the forefront of my mind.
No, I believe our values are very difficult to pinpoint, especially in a one-sheet list of words or a card deck by which we narrow the options down to a five or seven few. And I think I know why: Because many of our values are contextual. They show up differently in different circumstances. And our core values are hidden beneath those more obvious surface layers. They are the dinosaur bones buried beneath the layers of early human civilizations.
Because of this I suggest we, at least for now, stop trying so hard to define our core values and instead look at those values that lurk beneath the surface of our daily behavior.
It is these values I speak of in today’s post, because these contain a wealth of information about what Chris Argyris and Edgar Schon refer to as our theories-in-use versus our espoused values. Our espoused values are easy to identify in word lists, when sorting cards, or other methods of values identification because they represent what we want, or think, should be important to us, rather than what shows up in our behavior (check out this post by my friend Steve Hearsum for a great example of espoused vs actual values at Toshiba).
Our values in daily life.
Facets of our values show up all the time in daily life. For me, the easiest way to see them is to examine those situations that frustrate, anger, annoy or otherwise bother me, although considering those times when we are happily surprised, experience gratitude, joy, laughter and what-not can also help us to spot them.
Why do I get so annoyed when I am cut-off by another driver? Why does it bother me so much when I am interrupted when talking? Why do I so love the sound of children’s laughter (especially my own, but other people’s too)? Because they represent facets of my values (safety, courtesy, respect and joy).
Values in context.
Our values show up differently in different situations. For example, our values as consumers may be different than our values as parents, or as employees or entrepreneurs. The values that attracted us to a particular group may be different than those that attracted us to a particular person or job.
These facets may overlap at times, but other times they might be slightly or even dramatically different. Even those values that show up when we’re driving (fun, timeliness) may be different than those that emerge as passengers (safety, preparedness).
Our values in the face of change.
Assuming values show up differently in different contexts, paying close attention to them before, during and after a change can be particularly helpful in better understanding how they may be influencing us.
Last week I wrote about a new model, called the mindset feedback loop, which describes how our external environment of behaviors and experiences are influenced by our internal world of perceptions and beliefs. But virtually all of those things are affected by our values.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the biggest factor to our ability to successfully transition to a change is our personal principles. These in large part consist of our values, but tend to be identified more through our perceptions, beliefs, behaviors and experiences.
And that’s the scary thing. These values that have such a strong hold on us, are amazingly good covert operatives. They are masterful in the art of disguise and illusion, but if we look really close, we might be able to spot them.
Values as the gatekeeper to our quantum leap of change.
As introduced a couple of posts ago, there are ways to prepare for and facilitate the quantum leap required to fully succeed with a change.
If our transition is more turbulent, we might experience an aha moment that helps us to recognize that our change is, or will soon be, complete. Other times we consistently adapt to the point where we don’t notice our transformation until after it has already happened.
Regardless, it is fundamentally our values that determine how smoothly we’ll transition or if we’ll transition at all. Paying attention to what feels right to us, what feels uncomfortable, what is frustrating, what is energizing, can help us to more closely see our values at work.
But seeing them is only part of the equation, the other part is to figure out what they mean. Why does this part of my change feel right but that part doesn’t? Why do I feel so uncomfortable even though this is something I wanted? Why did I feel so great last month but this month feels like a big twisted knot?
This can be painstaking work, but it can also be incredibly enlightening. For each new understanding brings us closer to not just our contextual values, but also those elusive core values. And once we’ve found the core, we’ve pretty much discovered the key to ourselves.
As you may have noticed, I love this idea of facets of values as indicators of core values and I’m sure there will be more about this in future posts. But this should be enough to get you started. Tomorrow, we’ll look at our patterns, and how they can help or hinder our quantum leap of change.
What are your thoughts about values?
Do you agree that core values are deeply hidden while facets can be seen as a part of our daily lives? If not, what is your perspective? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share and let’s have a conversation!
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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