In my twenties, I worked for an extraordinary company of psychologists and personal development trainers called Future Pace. The principals at Future Pace, Geoff and Mahni Dugan, conducted a vast number of personal development seminars and I was very fortunate to attend many intensives on the subject of values (among many other fascinating subjects). Much of their research built upon Levels of Existence theories of Dr Clare Graves, as well as conflict resolution theories and practices of Nobel Laureate, Roger Sperry. The Dugan’s research also dovetailed with the Neuro-Linguistic master practitioner training that Geoff Dugan was delivering in the eighties.
I learned that our core human values are the qualities that motivate us in life. They are generally gathered and established in our inner maps of the self by the age of fourteen and they are comprised of inherited and learned qualities – they are meta keys to determining our unique sense of success in life.
Some core values are culturally imprinted on our unconscious minds by the sorts of overarching world challenges (and corresponding conflicts, solutions and tools for change that emerge in the world). These are the social narratives we are exposed to at home and at school in our formative years. Cultural values are harvested from the first decade that follows our birth. In light of current global tends, some examples of cultural values might be:-
Industry, Success, Wealth, Prosperity, Conservatism, Power, Travel, Comfort, Luxury, Security etc etc – all values that fit within a world narrative that strives for economic expansion and monetary gain in order to seize and wield power.
Personal values are qualities that we hold as vital to our own quality of life. Some examples might be:-
Love, Confidence, Expertise, Beauty, Power, Wealth, Comfort, Friendship, Family, Health Peace and Harmony etc etc
Core values give rise to our beliefs and subsequently shape our actions, which coalesce to become our experiences. It is a giant feedback loop.
It can go very wrong. Consider the boy who needs freedom above and beyond all other values – as a young boy he is disruptive in class and is reprimanded. He doesn’t heed the warnings and doesn’t do his homework and wanders off at lunch time to go home for a sandwich. He is put on detention at school and grounded at home.
As a teen he just wants to step out and see the world, be an independent adventurer, so he misses school or he leaves altogether and hitch-hikes around and even steals a car to feel the wind in his face as he hoons off into the sunset… only to be caught and charged and funneled straight into the youth justice system. His family cannot understand and now he is constantly monitored by everyone.
“where are you going?”
He moves out of home and gets a job selling door-to-door. He doesn’t show up one day for that dumb job that he hates, and goes instead to the beach. He’s fired and now has no access to money. He’s evicted, and hungry and he steals food and eventually commits a break and enter or a service station robbery that lands him in jail. His lifelong quest for freedom has cost him exactly that – his freedom. An alternative to this painful story lies in the conscious elicitation of one’s values, and the understanding that follows when one comprehends the hierarchy of one’s own values that support the key core value – in this case, Freedom. The process begins by making a list that is prompted by the question:-
‘What do I really need to feel good? ….and what else do I need?’ Ask yourself what’s the next most important quality I need to feel good? For example:- Freedom -> Safety -> Support -> Understanding -> Friendship -> Fun and Excitement.
Write down whatever comes to your mind. Make a list of up to 20 qualities (of course it can be more, but it’s a good idea to start with somewhere between 10 and 20). Examine the order of your values list and move certain values up or down in a way that just feels right. Really check out how you feel about the order. If something is amiss – move it.
Our values are the meta drivers of how we know ourselves, how we conduct ourselves and they may well be vastly different to the values of those around us.
Look at your list. Does the order flow for you now in a way that just feels right? Make a small and simple defining statement next to each value to explain what it means for you.
This is a great exercise to do with a partner. Each person in turn asks the other ‘What’s the next most important value? Is Money more important than Freedom? Is Comfort more important than Winning? Be prepared to trust your first instinctive response even if it surprises you or goes against logic.
Suspend all judgement about how you order your values. Just play along with the process and trust yourself to answer from the instinctive sense of what works.
There is really so much more to be said on the subject of human values, and how working directly at the level of meta drivers is used in conflict resolution and in seeding successful project initiatives. The self-understanding that this cognitive technology brings is profoundly rewarding. The opportunity to become consciously aware of what I specifically need and desire is one of the most empowering tools I’ve ever encountered. By far the most enjoyable step in eliciting my own core values (as they apply to any aspect of my life) is being able to effectively determine a new order based on current needs and requirements. Organising my thinking to flow in a pleasing new hierarchy of core values powerfully changes the way I am and how well I function.
I’ll finish this piece by sharing with you the current list of values that I hold to be crucial to my success and happiness as a perfumer.
Freedom – doing it my way, not bound by anyone else’s demands or expectations, trusting my instincts.
Creativity – Following the What-ifs? of my Products, Concepts, Marketing, Innovation, Inventions
Resources – Having the means and access to obtain High Quality Raw Materials and Packaging, Good working relations with my suppliers, Ease of delivery.
Synergy – Allowing things to work effortlessly, naturally and easily – not forcing any of it
Inspiration – Waking up every day excited to be and do…
Learning – Discovering new ways and better ways and staying open and receptive
Connection – Knowing that my art brings happiness & makes a positive contribution to the lives of others. Transacting and communicating with like-minded people.
Acknowledgement – Receiving Positive Feedback and Return Customers with an Invitation to succeed.
Reward – Accepting Money for my Time and Art as fair day’s pay that allows me to Live and Flourish and provide for my survival needs and those of my family.
Satisfaction – Running a Calm and Ethical business practice in order to know balance
Sustainability – Giving back and supporting others. Being safe and secure in all my business dealings. Reciprocity of well-being and pleasure.
Integrity – Demonstrating Transparency and Ethical decisions
Trust – Listening to my instincts and absolutely following my gut
Generosity – Giving more than I promise. Receiving more than I expect.
Love – Delighting every day in what I do
MISSION STATEMENT: Freedom is the full permission I grant to my creativity, knowing it to be the highly driven task-leader and project manager of my commercial ecology.
The ebb and flow of my creative impulses is a natural rhythm that functions within its own sense of time and space. I am at peace with that way of living and being. I am motivated and able to act upon the inspirations as they arise. In trusting my own process, I easily find the resources and raw materials needed to achieve conceptual and physical cohesion of my ideas.
The more I trust, the better my work flows, and the results are that more customers acknowledge my work with enthusiasm and repeat business. I am safe in business.
I gratefully receive a steady flow of income from the sale of my products, and I express my gratitude by generously rewarding my customers and supporting others.
I love my work.
photograph above of Bee and Snapdragons by Steve Reinthal ©2009