Have you linked your values to your behaviors?

As Tom mentioned in the previous post, living by your values is essential to happiness.  Some may find the concept of values to be esoteric in nature.  After all, you can easily claim to value family and yet your family may repeatedly take a backseat to your career.  To make values more practical, connecting your values to your behaviors can be a simple and effective exercise. What does it look like when you’re truly living your values?  For a family value, perhaps that means leaving your cellphone at home (or at least turning it off) on a family vacation so that you can truly enjoy the company of your family and make the most of the time you have together.  It could be something as simple as a weekly call to a parent or grandparent.  Take a look at your values and pick one or two that you feel you aren’t living as fully as you would like.

Then try to come up with a list of key behaviors that you would exhibit if you were fully living that value.  What could you do every day to more fully live the value?  What about every week?  Then, take a look at that value from another lens.  What behaviors should be red flags that tell you you’re going against this value?  As always, it is essential not only to write it down, but also review it regularly.  Set a five-minute daily appointment on your calendar, an alert on your phone or keep your list on your pillow to review before bed each night.  Whatever it takes to consistently take a look at your list and reflect.

I recently read the book Change Anything, in which they highlighted the importance of connecting to your values when trying to make a change in your life:

“The words you use to describe what you’re doing profoundly affect your experience…for instance, when sticking to a lower-calorie diet, don’t undermine your own motivation by describing your choices as ‘starving’ or ‘going without.’  You’re doing far more than manipulating calories.  You’re becoming healthy; you’re sticking to your promise; you’re sacrificing so that you’ll be mobile when playing with your grandkids.  This difference in description may sound small, but words matter.  They focus the brain on either the positive or negative aspects of what you’re doing.

To illustrate that point, it went on to describe a psychology experiment conducted at Stanford in which subjects played a game where they could either cooperate or compete.  Half of the subjects were told that the game was called the “Wall Street Game,” while the other half were told it was the “Community Game.”  Those playing the Wall Street Game were far more likely to steal, lie and cheat, despite the fact that the rules (and payouts) of both games were identical.

Similarly, there was a story of Valter, a “picker” near Rio de Janeiro who talked excitedly about the work he and his colleagues were involved with.  He trumpeted the fact that they were at the center of the green movement and that they do some of the most important work imaginable.  You would never guess that he would then put on a pair of tattered gloves and head over to an enormous heap of trash to begin extracting recyclable material from one of the world’s largest dumps.  If Valter can find pride and excitement in a day spent at a landfill by connecting with his most important values, imagine the power it could have to help you to change your mindset and find happiness by more fully living your own values.

As any good salesman will tell you, our purchases often have more to do with emotions than logic.  The same holds true for many of the decisions we make every day.  Therefore, one of the keys to help you live your values is to find words that light a fire inside you to help you to adopt those daily behaviors that exemplify your values.  For me, one of those words is self-efficacy.  I was recently reading an article in which they defined self-efficacy as “the sense that you can change the world and that you can do what you set out to do.”  Immediately that word and definition resonated with me as I realized that was truly the overarching theme in both my values and passions, and it subsequently shot up to the top of my list of values.  As is the case with many values, that sets a pretty lofty standard to live by, which can be a bit intimidating.  To make it more manageable, its time to connect that value to the daily and weekly behaviors that will get me there…

Values – More Than Words

As part of our self-discovery process of our “inner guidance system” (Passions/Unique Ability/Personal Mission & Values), values are the building blocks of happiness. Not only do they get you through the tough times (personally lead me through my recovery from alcoholism in 1985), but they lead you to new “highs”. While I hadn’t articulated my values in 1985, I knew my behaviors we not consistent with my perceived values. Actually I didn’t “discover” my top five values until the early 90’s through a process we now use with our clients. The significance of this for me was that it led me to leave my executive position to create The XLR8 Team, Inc. which among other things helps individuals and organizations articulate and live consistent with their stated values.

Over time, not only does this articulation of your top five values make your life happier, sometimes a new value appears that replaces one, because it “speaks” to you. Here’s a quote from one of my favorite daily inspirational messages from Abraham-Hicks that explains why some words are more powerful to us: “Words do not teach at all. It is life experience that brings you your knowing. But when you hear words that are a vibrational match to the knowing that you have accumulated, then sometimes it's easier for you to sort it all out.”

This happened to me when someone recommended a new book entitled Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership by Joseph Jaworski in 1996, the year I started my coaching business full-time. I was familiar with the word, synchronicity, from my studies of Carl Jung, the psychiatrist who has been said to be the grandfather of positive psychology. He defined it as: “a collaboration between persons and events that seems to enlist the cooperation of fate.” You may have heard people say that “everything happens for a reason” or that “something happened right at the right time” that lead to significant changes in their lives. The key is: are you paying attention?

In this book, Joseph Jaworski argues that the right state of mind will make you the kind of person who can enlist the cooperation of fate and take advantage of synchronicity creating the conditions for “predictable miracles.”

So how do you create the right state of mind? For me it began by writing down what I described at the beginning of this blog as my inner guidance system. Since then there were countless “synchronistic” events that I may have missed, or been fearful of (ie. leaving my real job at a “bad” time - three kids (17, 14 & 8, a mortgage, etc.). Had I not had them written down and placed them on my wall (in my office, not on Facebook), I might not have figured out that this was the path I must take to find the courage to awaken to the magnificence of our limitless possibilities, The XLR8 Team’s vision for ourselves and for you.

As stated in the Amazon book review - "Synchronicity illustrates that leadership is about the release of human possibilities, about enabling others to break free of limits – created organizationally or self-imposed.” This then gave me the courage to create a leadership development coaching process that enabled people to awaken their inner guidance system that is there for all of us to discover.

What words have resonated with you recently? How did you integrate them into your passions, values and your life?" We’d love to hear from you.