Living Your Values

“You have to maintain a culture of transformation and stay true to your values.” — Jeff Weiner

When CEO Jeff Weiner said the quote above, I’m pretty sure he was talking about his company, LinkedIn. Yet as I look around, he could be talking about our world today.

Unless you’re hidden away on some mountain top in the Himalayas, I think you’d agree that we’re in a period of conflict with a good dose of chaos. We seem to be polarized, and the push/pull is intense. We’re absolutely certain and totally uncertain. We’re highly reactive and minimally constructive. Just sayin’.

And all of this perfectly describes a time of transformation.

What happens when we transform on a personal level? We have to let go of our limiting beliefs. We have to release the negative emotions that determined our choices and ran our lives. We have to acknowledge that the identities we’ve adopted no longer serve us. We bump into our Shadow selves and must accept those dark sides we’d rather ignore. We may have to revamp the ground rules of our relationships or even let some of them go. We may have to forgive specific people or ask for forgiveness.

It can get messy.

The thing that grounds personal transformation is our core values. When we tap into our deepest values, who we are and what we believe at our core, we’re okay and centered. Even if we look like a mess from the outside, we have that strong, clear knowing that we’re on the right track. And it will all be okay.

Many of us look at what’s happening in our country and our world right now, and we see transformation. Not just a few tweaks and changes to life as we’ve known it, but full-out transformation that is full of possibility. And if that’s true, it’s probably going to be messy.

But if we, as a collective consciousness, stay tuned to our core values, this transformation will be awesome.

The trick is that the soundbites we’ve bought into are not our deepest core values. Whether it’s Fox News or MSNBC, the talking heads don’t talk for us as individuals. The rally cry of one faction or another doesn’t represent who we are at our core level. We have to determine that for ourselves.

Most of us aren’t trained from an early age to discover what matters most to us. Many of us float through life not really thinking about our values—until we run into a serious diagnosis, a painful loss, or some kind of cosmic two by four that knocks us to our knees. Suddenly, we’re forced to consider, “Okay, what is truly important to me? Who am I and what am I about?”

In all of my trainings, we invest a good amount of time discussing and discovering core values. Why? Because once you’re clear on your core values, everything falls into place. Decisions are easier to make and courses of action become clear. Priorities become obvious. You feel solid and centered even in the midst of chaos, like being the eye of a storm.

To get into this, I like to use a simple NLP exercise called “values solicitation.” It will take you about 30 minutes, but it can make a huge difference to how you feel about and operate in your life. Here’s the process:

1. Make a list of everything you want from life, like success, security or love. Keep writing until your list seems complete. Next, make a list of all you don’t want like disease, conflict, poverty. You should end up with a positive quality on your desires list for all the negative qualities on your list. For example, if you don’t want conflict, you might have peace on your positive list.

2. Looking only at the list of what you want, ask yourself, “If I could have only one of these qualities in my life, which would it be?” Mark that one as #1. Then ask, “If I could have only two of these qualities, which other one would I choose?” Mark this as #2. Continue until you’ve pared your list down to six or seven of your most important values.

(Note: Be sure that your values and the way you rank them really represent how you feel, not how you think you should feel.)

3. Think about each of your most important values. How does each value show up in the main categories of your life: health, relationships, career, personal growth and spirituality? Do your activities and attitudes in each area align with your core values? Are your goals in that area in synch with your values?

4. If you’re like most people, you’ll probably find conflict between who you are in a certain area of life and one or more of your core values. So, the next step is to figure out what needs changing. First ask about the conflicting value: “Is this really important to me? Is it really my value or someone else’s?” If the value still feels true, check out who you are being and what you are doing in that area of life. “What feels off kilter to me? How could my actions align more closely with my values? What can I change, add or eliminate?”

In times of transformation, whether it’s global or personal, being clear on your core values will help you weather the storm and create a satisfying, purpose-full life.

“There is a fundamental question we all have to face. How are we to live our lives; by what principles and moral values will we be guided and inspired?”

—H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

To your TOTAL empowerment!


Dr. Matt.


Byline: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership. Author of several books, Dr. Matt has trained thousands of students to be totally empowered using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna, Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) therapy, and Empowerment Fit, a program that incorporates targeted mind/body/spirit practices to create optimal physical fitness and health. To reach Dr. James, please e-mail him at or visit his blog at

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