Find your true north – what really drives you?

21st February 2018

Our values are what we believe to be important in our life and our work. By being clear on our personal core values, we can use them as a compass to determine our priorities, to drive our actions and help us choose a career and a life that are deeply satisfying to us.

When we are looking at building energy for high performance we need to be very clear on what drives us – what gets us out of bed in the morning with a spring in our step? In my last blog, ‘There’s no purpose without purpose’, we saw that this energy or ‘catapulting effect’ comes from having a clear sense of purpose in our life and in our work. This doesn’t just give us a sense of vitality; it positively affects our wellbeing and our happiness.

Living a purpose led life

We know we are living a purpose led life when what we are doing is not only enjoyable, but it fits in with our personal core values. For example if I value family and I take pleasure from cooking, then cooking for my family is a perfect example of an activity I will feel compelled to do. This perfect sync between pleasure and purpose creates an unlimited reserve of fuel for life.

So what really drives you? This blog will help you to determine your core values, so that you can tap into more of this purpose filled energy. In my last blog I promised to run through a really powerful values exercise that I often use in my leadership and performance coaching.

The exercise that I’ll show you today is aimed at helping you personally identify your core values. However I run a similar exercise with companies and teams who also have a set of collective values which need to be defined. These collective values support the vision, underpin the culture and act as a modus operandi; driving behaviours, actions and decision making.

Teams and organisations with a clearly defined set of values are able to recruit, retain and engage people with similar values to the team. This makes for a highly successful, highly energised group of people.

Try my values exercise

The overall aim is not only to help you identify your core values or true north, but also to look at whether your values are currently being met and what actions you can take to live more of a values led, energising life.

Step1 Define your core values

Either think in terms of life in general or select a context such as career or family. Look through the list of values words below and pick any of the words that you perceive to be super important within this context. At this stage, many clients find my deck of 74 values cards useful as they can place the cards out in front of them and physically whittle them down. Below is just a selection of some of the core values taken from my deck of values cards.

Start by picking out 10 or so values that are important to you and then really focus on the 5 that drive you most. To help you do this, determine degrees of importance by considering whether you would be upset or excited if the value would increase or decrease in your life.

Now write down your top 5 values in order of importance. As you go through this exercise, bear in mind that values that were important in the past may not be relevant now.

  • Relationships
    Achievement / success
    Being the best
    Seeing the results of my efforts
    People scting upon my ideas
    Winning
    Health / strength
    Motivating / inspiring others
    Enthusiasm / passion
    Taking care of others
    Influence / power
  • Discipline
    Faith / spirituality
    Fun
    Making a difference
    Knowledge / wisdom
    Autonomy
    Trust
    Compassion / kindness
    Family
    Creativity / innovation
    Humour / laughter
  • Making decisions
    Empathy
    Good leadership
    Travel or adventure
    Being challenged
    Sense of purpose
    Raising the bar
    Good friends / great people
    Freedom
    Money / wealth
    Integrity / honesty

Step 2 Are you getting your values met?

For each of the five values selected and in relation to the context that you have chosen, your next step is to assess whether you feel your values are being met currently or not. For example, if you have chosen ‘autonomy’ and the context of work, ask yourself on a scale of 1-5 whether you feel that you have enough opportunities to be autonomous at work, where 1 represents no opportunity and 5 bags of opportunity.

You may find as you look through your values that for the most part, they are being met. When this happens, life feels pretty good. However you may also find the opposite is the case, leaving you feeling de-motivated, frustrated and giving you a sense that things just aren’t right.

Step 3 Follow your north star and take action

With your values in mind, particularly those you scored the lowest in step two, what actions can you take to get more of your values met more of the time? In most cases, just small changes to how you work and live, will reap huge benefit for you.

For example if you had chosen the value of ‘autonomy’, and the context of work, and rated your fulfilment level 2 out of 5, suggesting you have little autonomy, what actions can you take? One example might be to own a project or piece of work, where you can exercise a high degree of control and have the freedom to make decisions.

In some cases, where none of your values are being met, you may need to consider a more impactful change. For example if the context is work, you may need to consider finding a role, more aligned with your core values.

As you journey through life so your values can change. So keep in touch with these guiding principles, revisit this values exercise regularly, particularly when you sense that things feel wrong, in order to ensure that the choices you make in your life and your career line up with your values.

If you would like Emma to come in and talk at an event or work with your teams please get in touch today. Alternatively if you would like a deck of our values cards personally or to run the exercise within your teams or organisation, click on this link.

Author: Emma Turner

Emma works closely with leaders to build successful teams, retain top talent and maximise performance. Founder of Zenergos, an app based company helping people build the energy, resilience and inner calm associated with high performance.