What Are Your Values?

By Chris Chittenden

"And now for something completely different."

… John Cleese, Monty Python's Flying Circus

My normal pattern of writing e-zines is to write whatever shows up to me at the time of writing. For the next few months, I would like to change all that and take you on a bit of a journey.

One of the keys to my work has been the idea of building alignment whether this is about oneself or about a group of people. That alignment is based on a foundational value set that is established from these four questions:

  1. What is at the heart of how you want to experience life?
  2. What is most important to you about what you want to create in life?
  3. What is central to how you want to approach life given an uncertain future?
  4. What is the basis of how you want to relate to others?

These four questions are posed to establish FOUR values. They are then used to form a trigger and provide a set of questions that help one navigate through life in a consistent way. This idea is to establish more aligned and habitual patterns of being ultimately leading to an authentic sense of self.

I will address one question each in this and the next three newsletters by sharing with you the values that I have come to through this process and how I have done so. I will also offer some insights into how you might explore these questions for yourself and arrive at your own personal value set. In a future e-zine, I will share how to use your value set to build more alignment in your life. My invitation is that you can enjoy reading and reflecting on the ideas or you can jump right in and seek to develop or revisit your own value set for life. If you want some help to develop your own value set, you are free to write to me and I will give you what help I can. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

So let's begin with the first question, "what is at the heart of how I want to experience life?"

When I have posed this question to others, there are some key themes that tend to repeat. People want to live in integrity. Some want to be authentic. Some happy. Some want to be passionate about life, whilst others just want to live a simple life.

When I reflected on this question there were a number of aspects that showed up for me. The first was acceptance. One of the first aspects I learnt when I initially encountered the ontological approach some twenty years ago was the idea that we are all different observers of the world and that way of observing is legitimate for each of us. It does not mean that we will necessarily like the way of being of others but we accept it as a legitimate way for them to engage in life. This understanding was critical for me in being an effective coach and also in learning to accept myself. My interpretation of acceptance is to accept the world as I interpret it and also accept that there are some aspects of the world I will not like and yet cannot change.

This understanding led me into another. By appreciating that I cannot change everything in the world, I was then able to focus on what I could do something about. It also allowed me to appreciate what I did have in life and led me to a place of gratitude. The key for me was in self-acceptance. If I could accept myself for who I am; predominantly like myself for who I am and work on becoming who I want to be then I had no choice but to be grateful for all the aspects of my life that had brought me to this place. I could be grateful for the people who have loved and nurtured me on the journey. I could be grateful for the opportunities I had found in life and my own gifts. I could also be grateful for those who might have caused me pain at some point, although I certainly was not at the time.

So my answer to the question of "what is at the heart of how I want to experience life?" is "Gratitude".

What's yours? Here are some ideas that you might explore - integrity, authenticity, creativity, accountability, passion, acceptance, gratitude, responsible. Remember there is no right or wrong answer here, nor is there a need to absolutely define what your answer means as creating greater clarity about your answer is part of the future journey.

Next month, I will focus on the question, "What is most important to you about what you want to create in life?"

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© 2015 Chris Chittenden