Choose your values, honor your sense of self

Adrian Savage has posted a series on the Language of Values at his blog The Coyote Within, and in part 3 of his series, he suggests that we can effect change with our personal values.

You can choose. You don’t have to stay with the values language you grew up with, or even the one you hold today. You can learn another one, one that better suits your life and dreams.

While I do agree with Adrian, in my view this is very advanced coaching, for I spend most of my time helping people understand the values they already have and their cultural connection to them as determined by their sense of place and their heritage. The “specialty” of my own coaching, is often to help in connecting someone’s deep-seated values with their innate strengths, so that they can nurture those strengths from good to great. Most of my clients don’t want to change their values; they want to better understand them, consciously apply them, share them in relationships with others, and in doing so celebrate them.

What I specifically want to call attention to in Adrian’s article is his suggestion that you consider your values choices when you embark on self-improvement programs. We don’t think about this often enough, getting swept away in the “feel better” “quick fix” promises that can be made to us, and I think that Adrian offers sage insight and advice.

Transforming yourself often means changing your values. If you don’t, little else will change about you. Learning, growing, developing all need some values changes. You can hope these will happen as a by-product of self-improvement, or you can take the time to explore your values and make changes consciously.

Either way, you should take a good a look at any values associated with the self-improvement group or teaching you have in mind to use. How do you feel about them? Do they profess values you want to make part of who you are? Try to read and listen between the lines. Go through any materials carefully, paying attention to what’s presented as important, what assumptions are being made, and what is immediately dismissed or condemned. Is that who you want to be? Are those assumptions yours? Do you share similar ideas about right and wrong?

Trust your instincts and listen to them, but do tread carefully. Ask questions, and honor how you feel about the answers you’re given. It may be that those innate values you have are talking to you, and you need to pay more careful attention.

I don’t mean to be a naysayer when it comes to self-improvement programs. I am adding my voice to Adrian’s in urging you to understand that there is always an undeniable values connection. Embark on the self-improvement you want, not on that which you are sold.

Related posts:
Identify the strengths of those you manage.
Strengths and Values.

Strengths, Values and Maslow’s Pyramid.



  1. says

    I love the openness involved with Adrian’s advice on transforming and changing one’s values. It would seem that most people who are standing at the crossroads of change are in a vulnerable position though. I think influence should be filtered through their own soul. Hence, Rosa’s advice makes sense to me.
    I have been tuned into the subject of values for about ten years. I am not sure over this course of time if I’ve changed my values as much as clarifying and drawing focus on ones that’ve been in the cooker all along. Sometime over the last four months a value of mine came into crystal view. There were fragments of this value in the Dave-stew but I never had a name for it until recently. Naming this value has proved to be a very rewarding experience.
    I still believe that Adrian’s point is important. Some could possess very harmful values in need of change. The existing values need to be uprooted and replaced.
    Okay, this discussion has evoked a problem / conflict?? that I need to go work out in my head. It IS one of the benefits I derive from hanging around folks in the Ho’ohana community.

  2. says

    I think I’m closer to your approach–there’s more value in examining the values we already have, and building strength out of strengths, then trying to challenge and change values.
    Now, not every piece of baggage we carry is valuable; there is such a thing as a defective value, and some things do need to be challenged and overcome.
    At the end of the day, though, I’m with the “strengths psychology” crowd–it does more good to unearth what’s there, focus and clarify it, and build on what’s already good.

  3. says

    Mahalo for adding your thoughts Dave, and knowing you as I do, I am very sure that the “problem/ conflict ??” you’ve hinted of will soon be revealed as a very welcome learning opportunity for you.
    Aloha Max, welcome to our Ho‘ohana Community; thank you for reading and joining in on our talk story here. I’ve clicked in to your new blog SUPERORDINATE, and you are off to a magnificent start, with your own values speaking to us with marvelous clarity and focus!
    As you’ve both suggested, values and innate strengths are so intricately and undeniably connected, especially when one defines “strengths” as your predictable patterns of behavior (with all credit due for that definition to Donald Clifton and Marcus Buckingham in First Break All the Rules). Whether we speak of strengthening those we have, or consciously striving for those we admire, we will always gain more clarity and certainty about who we are when we focus on our values. We will always enlarge our capacity four-fold: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And personally, because I believe that all values in their pure form are good, I feel that evolution of sense of self is a very good thing; it adds to our health and well-being.
    I may be the eternal optimist, admittedly a moniker I don’t shy away from, for I do prefer to believe that when we deliberately build on them, our stronger, beneficial values will always trump the “challenging baggage” we may have with some others.

  4. says

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