Determining Your Core Values

October 7, 2019

Pricey’s favourite movie the Dead Poets Society. In the final scene, Mr. Keating’s walking out of the room, and he’s just been sacked, and Todd gets to his feet, and stands on top of the desk and says, “Oh captain, my captain.

It is just so good…but why?

During the course of this episode we will attempt to address that question because we’re going to talk all about determining your core values. What’s deepest in you? What really is at your essence of who you are. It’s the things in the world that for whatever reason, mean the most to you and who you are.

Core values, they’re like a personal compass point. You know, you’re wandering through life and your values tell you if something is right or wrong. They tell you, you should go down this path, or not. Greg has always said that values are like drivers. They drive where you want to be. They drive your behaviour, they drive your reactions, and they drive your deepest desires of how you want to spend your life. And that’s a real key there for understanding you and who you are, because everyone’s values are different.

If you’re going to be true to who you are, these are the non-negotiables for you. Pricey’s own wonderful father Frank is a great example. Frank died when Pricey was young, but back in the 1940s he travelled to the other side of the world. Pricey’s dad came from New Zealand, and he wanted to be a journalist. And he went to the University of Toronto, and the University of Missouri after that. And he was doing a Ph D in journalism, a huge thing. And he studied and studied and he wrote his final honours paper, and when it came to the end, there were three guys had to actually mark his PhD.

One guy passed Pricey’s Dad, one guy said “No, I don’t think this is a PhD.” And the third guy said, “Frank, if you change this, this and this, I will actually give you a pass.” But the things he asked Pricey’s Dad to actually change were elements of the thesis he deeply believed to be true. Frank agonised over that, and he had a choice. A PhD, or to be true to himself. So he said, “No, I can’t change it.” And so he never passed the PhD. But even though that really shattered him in many, many ways, he was always proud of it.

Out of Balance

If you ignore your values, what you’ll start to feel is out of balance. Like you’ve compromised yourself, or there’s an in-congruency. And so you might be at work one day and feel like maybe you should be going to the gym, or maybe you should be spending more time at home. Or maybe you should be doing that new degree you want to do. Or maybe your boss comes over and says, “Hey, could you just stay a bit later and do this project for the business?” And you go, “Yeah, yeah, no problems. I can do that.” But the thing that’s not working for you is the way they asked you.

You know, maybe there was no gratitude. They haven’t given you any development or something. Over a period of time that starts to eat away at you. You start to feel like you’re not comfortable in your own skin.

So when you’re not in touch with your particular core values, you’re feeling compromised constantly. Like you’re feeling as though you’re second best. And you’ve got this gut feeling which says, “No, this isn’t who I want to be. This isn’t how I want to actually live or how I want to be treated.

Because see, that’s sometimes a big indicator of what’s an important value for you, is when somebody does something to you and you go, “That is not right.”

That guy’s on fire

And from the other side of that, when you’ve got this external world and you’re busy, busy, busy, busy, and you’re involved with so many things, but when you’re aligned with your core values, there’s just a peace about you.

And everyone else can actually see it. They kind of look over at you and say, “There’s something right there. That guy’s on fire.”

And you think about anyone that you’ve met in life that looked really happy and comfortable and content in their own skin. To be honest, we don’t meet that many people like that, but it’s because they’re living their life, they’re in the driver’s seat of how they spend their time. So if you think about… Almost in life, you have a set of activities or pursuits that you take on every single day. If the balance in those, and how you spend the time, and the way that you do all those pursuits don’t satisfy your core values, you’re going to feel like there’s a certain chunk of your life that isn’t aligned to who you are. You’re doing it for all the wrong reasons.

And you know when you do all of that, there’s always a little bit of a cost, okay? Because sometimes your values and somebody else’s values aren’t quite the same. So you’ve got to pay a little bit of a price, but it is worth it. Because you pay that price, you wear that little cost, you mightn’t get a particular job, but you get the job which is right for you.

Over time some of your values change

There’s one little point we’d like to make, which is how over time, and this is why it’s important to keep coming back to your core values, is that they change. Just ever so slightly through your life as you go through certain chapters. When Greg went into parenthood, one of his changed significantly. Greg used to have a core value called “living on the edge.” Greg would do all sorts of crazy things like, jump out of aeroplanes or do the running of the bulls, all that kind of stuff as a young fella, because he wanted the excitement, the adventure. That whole value was about living his life with some adventure. It had to be a little bit dangerous to get the adrenaline going.

But then what actually happened over time was he didn’t need that anymore, and in fact didn’t want it. He doesn’t want that sort of danger in his life now that he has a young family. So now the core value has changed from ‘Living on the edge’ to “stay epic.” Right? And what that is about is having good epic adventures in different ways, all right? In its essence it is the same core value but it has changed slightly to reflect where Greg is in his life now.

So your call value will just change over time. It will be nuanced over time to fit where you are now.

You can see the difference between “Living on the edge,” which has an element of danger to it, to “staying epic.” And being more the very best version of yourself than trying to be adventurous and things like that. Underneath that is the value for Greg being an edge person.

So how do you identify your core values?

The key thing is how do we find them? That’s the most important thing I think. And we’ve got a little process which we use with clients and on ourself. And first thing to do is sit down and find a nice quiet space, bit of music, whatever gets you thinking about who you truly are, and start making a bit of a list of potential values. Because you want to start big and then refine.

And the thing that you can normally put down is “What are the two or three, four or five things that are clearly most important for you?” There should be some easy ones there, it might be family, might be health, it might be relationships, it might be music, art, that kind of stuff. Then have a closer look at the things that anger you deeply, like when your boss says something in a certain way, or when you read something in a newspaper and you go, “That is wrong.” And when you get that fired up energy in you, it’s a big indicator that potentially there’s a value deep within you or fairness or whatever, that is not being met.

That second one, “what angers you?” That’s often easier to get in contact with than what we actually value. So when something fires me up and I’m really angry, then when I ask “Why? Why did that anger me? Why did I get really annoyed there?” Often it will point to a particular value, fairness, being treated just way, whatever the thing is. So what you’re doing is you’re… And it’s an exercise of mapping. It’s an awareness exercise again, but it’s a mapping why do you react the way you do? What actually really frustrates you? Slightly different to an anger thing.

The frustration comes from, because maybe it’s something in your life that’s important, but you’re not doing it right. So you just end up in this constant world of frustration. Or you’re not doing it enough. Right, so maybe health and fitness is one for you, but you’re only half fit, you’re five kilos overweight, and you’re not happy. So you’re sort of like, “Oh God that frustrates me. I want to spend more time doing that. I’ve always wanted to be. I really should be. I need to be.” These sort of words will give you an indication of something that could be a core value.

What’s happening there, there is a real restlessness. There’s something edgy, there’s a kind of a restlessness, your energy is there, but it’s not being put where it really wants to be.

So what I end up with after those three questions, “What’s most important to you? What angers you deeply, what frustrates you?” You should get to a list of potential core values, right? Then what we do is go through those and try and personalise them.

That’s when something like adventure or something, or excitement, becomes “living on the edge” or becomes “staying epic.” Excellence is a value, but not that label for Greg. For Greg – excellence as a core value becomes mastery. It’s very subtle change but that’s more Greg, you know?

And so when you get your get lists of particular values, so you might have courage, strength, et cetera, but you’ve then got to frame that in a way which is actually you. The core value it’s still strength or it’s still courage, but you express it in your particular way.

What you’re looking for, and sometimes we do this in a bit of a circle, like a six, 10 values, or whatever it is for you, and what you’re looking for is a finalised set. Right? It’s like the complete box set of core values for you. And it feels complete. You look at it and go, “Hey, that’s me. There’s nothing missing.” Or, “There’s nothing to add.” Or, “It’s all present, and it feels like it’s all written in my language.

And when you meet a mentor, your partner, or really close friend, and if you were to show them that particular set, they would look at that and say, “That is you.

And that is exactly what Greg will do with the client at the end. Greg does a bit of a congruence test with them. He gets the list of values and says, “Hey Damien, you are,” and I might say, “Living on the edge, crazy beyond belief. Courageous like a lion.” Greg might go around… And all these particular values, and he’ll go, “Damien, that is Damien. Is there anything missing?” Right? “Is it everything? Is that exactly Damien?” And what he’s looking for in the eyes and in the voice of the person is “Yes.” Total congruent that is it. And if they’re not there yet, we just spend a bit more time adding, removing, refining, till we get it right.

Best me I can be

So in your life and mine, there’s all those people who’ve achieved a great, great deal, but then there’s the others who’ve achieved a great deal, and we admire them. So there’s two different things. So that person who’s achieved, they may have compromised values to actually achieve. Those people who have achieved may have trampled over others. But the others that we admire, and they’ve actually achieved, and we admire them, they’re the ones who’ve got in touch with their core values.

Our challenge

Now a little challenge for all of the universal men out there. We’ll put this process up on the website in the show notes. Go and create your list of core values, determine your core values. And if you’re open to it, put a little comment in the podcast post with what some of your own personalised core values are, like the special labels you give them. Because one thing we’ve found is, when we’ve done this in group work with men, is you bounce off each other. “Hey, that’s a really important thing.” It gives you a new insight into your own values. So please share some of those so everyone else can learn.

The second thing we’d love you to do is, write down and share with us who’s someone in your life who’s achieved a lot, and you actually admire them too. And why? What was it about them that you really admire? And we can bet you now it’ll be because of their core values.

Stay legendary

Pricey and Grego

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