When I went to work one day in October 2017, I realized that something was off. I did not feel connected to myself because I was no longer working towards what was important to me. It took me a while to realize that this “off” feeling, this discomfort in being out of touch was due to a disconnect between what I did, where I was, and my core values.
Have you ever felt this discomfort? This disconnect? Probably!
As the world is more and more connected, you are more and more disconnected. You rush from one place to the next, one person to the next, one screen to the next and take little time for introspection. Suddenly, you stop, burn out, and feel stuck or overwhelmed; you realize that what you do does not reflect what you stand for. You realize how long it has been since you last checked in with yourself and ask yourself whether you are “in tune” with your values.
I was listening to Episode 4 of the podcast Invisibilia (Season 3) called “The Other Real World,” and this is what Betsy Levy Paluck, a psychologist at Princeton University had to say:
We like to think that all of our behaviors flow from our convictions, and what we do is a reflection of who we are and what we think. But we’re constantly tuning ourselves to fit in with the social world around us, oftentimes in ways that we can’t even identify.
So this is it! When your behaviors flow from your convictions, you are whole. As leaders, we need to feel this connection, this wholeness, to know we are leading from the heart. A study by Léo Bruno and Eduardo Lay says that values “may well be the crucial and underlying determinant of leaders’ behavior.” Since you are interested in reading this, then values are probably the crucial and underlying determinant of your behavior!
Going back to different times in my life when I felt disconnected, I realize that those were the most powerful times for me to make huge changes. Once I got over the awkwardness of the situation and worked out what I needed to do to reconnect, I soared. Having said that, I continue to ask myself if these moments are necessary. What if I stayed connected by regularly evaluating, re-assessing, and taking stock of how in tune I am? I hope to give you an update in a few months as I use the following ideas.
Make Great Decisions
Use your terminal values as a guide to your decision-making. When you are faced with a challenging decision, it always helps to link it to what drives you. Is it family? Justice? Adventure? Peace? Whatever your values are, they will allow you to make decisions based on what you believe is right, and this will give you the sense of wholeness and purpose we all long for.
Let’s Talk About Purpose
How do your values relate to purpose? In the 70s, Milton Rokeach distinguished between terminal values and instrumental values. He explains terminal values as “desirable end-states of existence; the goals that a person would like to achieve during their lifetime.” If that’s not purpose, I don’t know what is! So as you think about your purpose, consider what your values are and how you can include them in your everyday life to give it purpose.
Stay on Track
Oh, what’s this shiny thing over here? Hey, what about that one? Hey, hey! Come back here. Is this in line with your values? Will this add to your sense of purpose? If not, stay right here please. This doesn’t mean that you stop exploring but when you are feeling overwhelmed, more exploration is not what you need. Ask yourself this simple question – right now, is this interesting or useful? If it’s the former, add it to your reading list or maybe to your “explore” folder but for now… stay connected to yourself.
The word “mindful” is thrown around in so many ways these days. Literally, it means “being conscious or aware” and so, this is how I want to use it here. React in a way that shows self-awareness and ask yourself if your reaction is in line with your values. For example, when you are angry with something/someone, does this fit in with your value of “self-respect”? How can you use your values to inform your (re)actions? I will leave this open for you to ponder. No two brains are alike and you will find the solutions that work for you.
Lead Yourself and Others With Integrity
According to the Center for Ethical Leadership, “an ethical leader is a person who acts with integrity.” They define ethical leadership as “knowing your core values and having the courage to act on them on behalf of the common good.” I don’t think I need to add much more to this.
Integrity is one of the most valued characteristics of great leaders and in a world with so much healing to be done, you, the ethical leader are the key. Will you have the courage to act on your values on behalf of the common good? Of course you will!
To integrate your values through the body, stand strong in mountain pose, repeat your value to yourself as you inhale and let it go as you exhale. Bring your hands overhead, and offer your value go into the world because once you know what you stand for, it’s your duty to let others know!