I realize the order in which I am writing might not make sense and if I actually sit down one day to suss out a book I may need to make things a bit more orderly, but for now it’s go with the flow. I am good with asking you to think critically, before first asking or explaining where your values may have been founded.
It’s kind of like a Ferris Wheel when we start looking at a value, you get to the top and realize we need to pick up some more information before going back round again. The information we need to collect this time is what do you believe helped found your values and how do you apply them in your day to day life.
Our lenses are shaped by our education, relationships and experiences. You may or may not be willing or able to see through another’s lens, your metaphorical pupil is constricted. You may or may not be able to even identify your own lens and how it was shaped, suffering from something like a self astigmatism, your vision of yourself is blurred. Privilege often blurs our vision.
We will adopt or aim to share the values of those around us, our parents, our extended families, our friends or partners, teammates, co-workers, etc. But when was the last time you actually stopped to see if those values aligned with you and what you prioritize in your life.
I once managed a Customer Service Desk, and in my position I had to do a job analysis for the staff and myself. I needed to take all the different tasks we did in a day, a week, a month and put them together, then divide into a corresponding percentage out of the time spent in total. It was a great activity because it made me really break down exactly what everyone did in a day and/or what I thought should be getting done.
I like to use the same thought process when evaluating my life, my decisions and where to go next. And again this applies to my values – as mentioned in previous posts I’m not the simplest of people. I have a lot of energy, very passionate and can be intense. I am also extremely sensitive, loud and blunt. All these characteristics make me a Love or Hate person, not a lot of people would say they feel indifferent towards me and I’m ok with that.
It took me a long time to be ok with it though. It’s not easy knowing that you are unliked or misunderstood. The thing that has always recentered me is looking to my values, and was I living by them. Because, like everyone I’m an imperfect person, I didn’t always live my values and that’s when I hurt myself the most. When I was trying to live to someone’s else’s view of who I should be or what I should want.
While trying to live another’s values is when I was focused on Beauty. I have a whole slew things to say about Beauty vs. Fitness vs. Health, all different values, but that will have to wait for it’s own post. I used to get the three confused as interchangeable but they are not. Because I was confused, I rooted a lot of self-worth with the Beauty and standards of others vs my own. I always failed because I actually value being low maintenance over being put together, I value being natural over being done up. I really like treats, they make me happy, genuinely – like candy, baking, the occasional pop, these bring me joy. So in trying to limit them to be happy within someone else’s values always made me sad.
When I reframed my value to what it actually was, I am happier because I know that I live a life true to my values of Health and Balance. One that allows me to still like nice things and to dress up or care about how I look but focused on Health. Meaning I workout now mostly because I want to feel good vs look good. It gets my energy out, it helps me focus vs trying to just achieve a certain weight or look. Because I have three young kids, work one (often two) jobs and have other commitments, I need Balance over Focus. The entire pandemic I have also revelled that my at work, life is not being judged on how I look but rather my output. I realized trying to value Beauty, hurt me so I have let it go.
I believe we often state values we wish we held, or ones that we think we ‘should’ have. The thing about ‘should’s is that, they aren’t reality. If you are constantly trying to live a value that you misinterpret or claim but don’t hold you will feel empty.
People will say they value Equality but won’t stand up against systems or people in power because they are scared of losing their place in their world. This is the ranking of Self Preservation over Equality. Not many are open enough to recognize that ranking, because Equality is a virtuous value. Being someone that doesn’t value Self Preservation has hurt me because I often have to start over or I shoot myself in the foot in many a situation. I have had to start over in my career several times because I could not reconcile organizational values with my own. Whether it’s been being ‘nice’ or ‘well liked’ over competent or being ‘realistic’ over being fair. It’s never been easy but if I ever wonder what if, I know in my heart, I am good because I made my decisions based on my values of Integrity, Competence and Fairness.
Hard work is something I value greatly, my parents worked until 70 and almost 70 years old. My Father worked while starting a family and going to Medical School. I was brought up believing that if you worked hard, you would succeed. Recently my eyes have been opened not only to the fact that people see hard work very differently but that it is not a precursor to success. Until recently I was lucky enough to never experience a world where people equated the amount of money you made to how hard you work. These two things are not necessarily related, this is a fact. Some of the hardest working people I know make minimum wage. They do the jobs that we often take for granted. They have proven to be essential workers, yet they are often treated with the least respect. On the flip side some of the people I know make the most money, although they take risks, they work the least. I have realized that simply working hard doesn’t lead to success because others value status, or wealth, or superiority over actual work.
My value for hard work is still high but it now comes behind my values for Compassion and Empathy. Before judging someone’s ability to work hard, I first look at their capacity, meaning what else is going on in their life, what are they actually capable of and lack of resources they have access to. Some people have a greater output than others, some are just better at certain tasks than others, this has little to nothing to do with how hard they are actually working. Privilege, natural talent, access all factor in too.
People will say they value ‘Small Business’ over ‘Big Box’ but if you asked where they shopped this week the greater number would have admit to Costco, Amazon or Superstore. Of course we want to see our neighbours succeed and to support those we know but do you actually? How I put this into practice is that I shop at my local Sobeys, a franchise vs Superstore. I know I pay a little more for certain items, and I’m ok with that, because the Owner/Operator is wonderful. He asks after my kids every time I see him in the store and his front line staff do as well, they are patient and engage my kids when with me. I aim to make my big purchases, loading up on a month of cereal, on the first Tuesday of the month in order to take advantage of the 15% discount. Is it convenient, no. Is it easy, no. Does it mean that I pay more for some things, yes. Does it align with my value of Service, yes. It could be that you value ‘Getting a Deal’ over Service. It could be that your family struggled with money growing up so you value ‘Frugality’ or the necessity for ‘Thriftiness’. Maybe it’s that you value having more over having enough.
If you have shared something about how our new restrictions have affected small business in your city or across the globe – which I have seen many do so on Facebook recently – please review where you make your purchases. I am not judging the person that can not afford to shop anywhere other than Walmart or Superstore, some don’t have access to transit or funds so they are limited in their choices. I am not talking to those, I see them and know how difficult it is right now and possibly always to make these choices. I am not even judging the individuals that will have trees still overflowing with presents to open and have no struggle in having a big meal on Christmas day. I am only asking – Have you posted about small business and lockdown measures? What percentage of you purchases came from a small business vs big box? Did you try supporting a local business before going to the mall or large store? Did you even think of giving a non-profit membership or donation as a gift instead, bought a pass to Heritage Park, the Zoo or a local Recreation centre? Are you living your outwardly stated values?
At my work I had a coworker that made a list of small businesses that we would recommend supporting. I suggested adding the Zoo or Heritage park and she called them charities and that our Giving Campaign might be the better fit. However purchasing a membership or a service is not charity. Her value in this instance, in my view, was commerce over community.
What I am imploring you to do in the interim is to take your top values and identify where they are rooted. Why do you believe you have these values and how do you live them within you every day life. Living your values helps lead to resilience. Comment on your values here and let me know where they are founded.