Defining Your
Core values

Have you heard of the term Core Values before? In what context have you encountered the concept of core values? A few years ago, one of my mentors and a close personal friend introduced me to the concept of Personal Core Values for the first time. I still remember it like it was yesterday. Before then, I had only heard of Core Values with reference to Companies and Organizations. It seemed daunting and far fetched to me that an individual can have Core Values, and I must admit I felt a bit intimidated. 

I kept thinking “How do I go about streamlining my Values into just a few keywords?”. At the time, I felt I knew my Values, I just had not put them into words because it seemed difficult and time consuming. It took me some unlearning, relearning and extensive research to be able to understand and streamline this process. Thankfully, you will not have to struggle with all the time and research I was initially met with, as I have taken some time out to break down this important lesson into simple terms I wish I knew earlier. There’s also a detailed and straightforward process enumerated in the next post to ensure that you can outline your Core Values within the next 30 minutes of taking the exercise. So, let’s dive right in!

Firstly, what are Core Values and why are they important in our lives? Let’s take the words individually:

Core: when something is at the core, that means it’s foundational. It is the center upon which other things are built. We hear this in words and phrases like “core of the earth”, “core concepts”, “core culture” and so on.

Values: these are sets of fundamental beliefs that influence your behaviors and actions. Therefore, Core Values can be said to be a set of guiding rules and principles that govern not only behaviors and actions, but also the direction of our lives and its alignment with our goals and objectives.

From this definition, it is clear that core values are essential in determining the tone of our lives and achieving our goals and objectives. I like to think of them as anchors that ground us firmly so that our conduct is not swayed by the tides of life.

Why do we need Values?

Still bearing in mind the anchor analogy, Core Values provide a base for us. It makes it easier for people to vouch for you when they are presented with information that is deemed out of your character.

Let’s play a quick game. Among your friends, whose name comes up when I mention the following words?

  • Good advice
  • Punctuality
  • Smartness
  • Positivity 
  • Supportive
  • Trustworthiness

As simple as this exercise is, it can prove a lot about your circle to you. So when you are presented with information that seems out of character for any of your friends, you’d know. Many times, we adopt core values without even realizing. However, intentionally outlined Core Values are the best.

Core values also serve as a funnel which filters the type of information we put out about ourselves or others. When these Values are identified and adopted, then any potential information, when put through these filters will definitely either come out more refined, or not come out at all.

For example, my primary core values are Honesty, Equity and Respect (H.E.R). Before I put something out in my digital or even personal space, I usually run it by these three filters. It works every time! First of all, if what I’m going to say is False, it will not even make it past the first filter. That way, I never have to look over my shoulder for fear of being discovered as a fraud. 

If it passes that first filter, the next is, Is it fair to everyone? Is my stance biased? Skewed? Unreasonable? If it is, the second filter will knock it out. 

And finally, third filter, is it Respectful? Does my stance sound judgmental? Condescending? Self righteous or downright rude? The third filter will wash it away! Or better still, it can be refined to sound better. 

Core Values also do lots of other things like helping us make better decisions, discovering our purpose in life, Choosing the right career path, being better people and actively choosing what we want to be known for.

Now there’s no need to force your core values. If these are things you cannot handle or keep up with for a long time, there’s no point starting them. There are so many other core values that may be more your speed. Not everyone can pick discipline, creativity or dependability as their core value, and that’s okay. It’s better to work within your strength than to claim to be one thing in public and be the total opposite in person.

In the next post, We will be shedding more light on a simple process to outline your core values in less than 30 minutes! See you then.