“Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are.” 

José Ortega Gasset

Values are important as they help guide us through life’s struggles.  They are also the essence of who we are and what we stand for.

Values are often difficult to work out for each of us, until someone close to us crosses them – then wham, we know what is important to us!

I have been using strengths cards in recent times and often young people pick a strength and then we discuss what this strength means to them (in their own interpretation).  Then we start unpacking it more, is it a strength or a core value?  Where did they learn about this skill, was it in them from an early stage or did a significant person influence it? 

For me, community has been a value for a long time.  Looking back, this wasn’t so much modelled by my parents, but by close neighbourhood friends. They showed me what community values looked like, both through action and discussion.  They weren’t busy bodies nor spoke ill of anyone, they rolled up their sleeves and did their work quietly without expectation of rewards.  When I returned to the region as an adult, I was told by another neighbour of the assistance they provided to her family in their time of need – these people will always be heroes in her eyes (and also mine).

Often people state that a certain value is important to them, such as “honesty” or “confidential” – yet their behaviour does not match the value.  This often undermines their integrity and can immediately undo any good work that they have done to date.  Unfortunately, this can also happen at any level of an organisation and the trust is hard to claw back. 

I often remind others, that my value’s system is mine alone.  I cannot expect others to hold the same and this is often when people are upset with others and say things, like “They should do…….”  I ask “why?”  Often, they respond “Because it is the right thing to do”.   I answer, “by whose standards?”  Values are such a personal thing, and I cannot judge others by my own compass.  I can only judge myself.