What are your personal core values?

posted in: Culture, Values | 2

Welcome back! Either you are determined to run a values-based company, or you’re plain simple curious, or it’s your first visit to my blog (which is OK, but stay tuned!).

Before deciding what values you believe are a fit for your company, you’ll need to understand what are your own core values. Your personal values. As with determining if you are truly willing to run a values-based company, remember that:

  • It’s surprisingly harder than you think.
  • It won’t work if you’re not honest with yourself.

The exercise is about learning how you can review the “highs” and “lows” of your life to discover your core values and what’s worth living and working for! The difficulty is to remain honest about what are the values you are looking at, because there are two types of core values:

  • Individual Core Values: The individual core values of people within a company or group.
  • Tribal Core Values: The collective values of the tribe generally recognized and aligned on by the group.

Don’t make the mistake to assume your tribe can be build on your own values – you wouldn’t be able to find enough clones of yourself. Nevertheless, not knowing your own core values leaves you helpless in defining those for your company.

Try using Tribal Leadership author Dave Logan’s “Mountains and Valleys” Core Values exercise. The page will ask you to sign up to be able to download the exercise but it is worth it. This 10-15 minute process can be used by employees, team members, and anyone participating in a situation where they want to identify their Personal Core Values. Note that it can also be used in a company or group initiative to identify and align on a set of Tribal Core Values (though for this the recommendation is to Contact CultureSync).

Tribal Leadership



Alternatively, though based on the same philosophy of doing an introspective of yourself, your highs and lows throughout your life, you can use the “Lifeline Discovery” from Tim Clark’s “Business Model You” to help you define your personal core values by reviewing significant milestones in your life and/or life-changing events. This is the method I used 2 years ago (and yes, I’m up for a redo of the exercise!), and there’s a community of like minded people here.

Business Model You

One last note to close this post. Be sure to repeat this exercise every now and then. Life happens, perspectives, and with that core values, may change. Entrepreneurs that live for starting up new initiatives often value the dynamics that come with it. They launch, grow and leave to focus on the next challenge. Some may, over time, come to appreciate values that are more related to other phases of a company’s lifetime and start to wonder why they are not enthusiastic, or driven anymore as before. A re-discovery of core values may bring back passion, even if it is for other values and doing other activities.

Next week we’ll take the values to the people!

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