What’s valuable?

May 16, 2010 at 07:29 2 comments

In my leadership education program we had a workshop about values. Values are the underlying base for all our actions and choices. At least in an ideal world. When work life is more and more hectic and companies are aiming for bigger savings and productivity, for example nurses may have to settle for something less in their quality of work than they would hope for based on their values. It’s that conflict that makes people burn out.

Anyway, we had a quite useful exercise in finding out for our own values, a long list of questions. The idea is that first you describe some of your action by answering a question (What do you spend a lot of time doing?). Then you try figuring out WHY is that important to you. You continue to ask yourself until you get to the bottom of your reasons of you’re doings or likings.

Like this:

What do you spend a lot of time doing? -working out. Why? -I enjoy working out, it makes me feel good and whole. Also I feel more confident and healthier. Underlying values might then be: pleasure and health.

What are you afraid of losing? -my sanity. Why? It would be horrible not to be able to think clearly and make good choices for myself. The underlying value might be: sense of control.

What would you do if you had the time? -I would read more. Why? -I love reading, it makes me relaxed, offers new perspectives on life and is sort of a get away from my everyday life. I also enjoy and admire talented writers and I think language creates the reality. The underlying values might be: wellness, beauty and learning.

After we answered some ten or twenty questions we had to put down five of the most important values. I put down acceptance, health, kindness, sharing and making a difference. The exercise would have continued by having to find out with each two values which is more important and by that way ending up with just one, THEE most important value. I didn’t have the time to do that but I think my number one would be acceptance. As who you are. Whoever that is. 🙂 I think the world would be a better place if it was easier for us to take people as they are and let them be themselves.

I hope my top five values guide my own leadership in my everyday work.

Here’s a list of questions if you want to try this out:

  1. What do you spend a lot of time doing?
  2. In what do you spend a lot of your money? (food!)
  3. What are you afraid of losing?
  4. What would you do if you had the time?
  5. What kind of issues agitate you?
  6. What would you pay a hefty amount of money? (if I had the hefty amount I’d pay my mortgage)
  7. Try to remember a situation where it’s been hard to make a choice. How did you choose?
  8. For what would you be willing to make a sacrifice? (for my own or my closest ones’ health)
  9. Think of a good childhood memory. What was precious about it?
  10. Picture one of your dreams?
  11. Who do you respect? Why? (my mom)
  12. What did you appreciate in your upbringing? (being trusted in)
  13. What the most important in upbringing in general?
  14. What kind of features do you value in a leader? (seeing people’s potential)
  15. What do you value in a friendship?
  16. What would you say is a good workplace?
  17. What should be valued in work?
  18. What kind of issues are bugging you right now?
  19. What does success mean to you? (being accepted)
  20. In what are you ready to commit yourself?
  21. Based on what would you choose a co-worker?
  22. After doing what kind of thing you might say: “I did the right thing.”?
  23. What do you believe in? (people)
  24. Which is more important: justice or love?
  25. Think about a crisis or a change you’ve been trough. What did you learn from it?
  26. Which traditions do you value and want to cherish? (such that encourage my important people get together)
  27. What do you expect from people you’re dealing with? (good will?)
  28. What obligations do you have?
  29. What rights do you have?
  30. What makes you feel safe? (lying in the sunshine on a warm cliff in an island)
  31. What kind of behaviour do you appreciate? What kind of behaviour you don’t approve?
  32. Think about your current life. Without what could you live?
  33. When are you happy and balanced?
  34. What do you enjoy doing while feeling a bit guilty about it? (using the elevator instead of the stairs!)

Entry filed under: leadership, Occupational Therapy. Tags: , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Antti Merilehto  |  May 19, 2010 at 08:20

    Great post. I spend fair amount of time thinking about this at a time whem my mom was working for a NGO and attended paretn-teacher-association meetings around Finland.

    At those days buzz word among busy parents was ‘quality time’ (laatuaika in Finnish). Meaning more or less that hour of playing educational games is worth three hours of just being there. This might have been a way to make the parents feel better on their running around.

    The idea that mom preached then, and still does, is that there is no quality time, there is only time.

    Same thing translates into very simple tester: Where you spend your time is what you value.

    I do understand that this is difficult to face for many in a society that worships busyness, in a society that has several demands that are not in unison.

    The way I test this is that I remind myself: I am not what I’m saying I’m doing, I am only what I do.

    This goes with working out, studying, seeing members of my extended family.

    Time is the only democratic resource, everyone has 24 hours a day. No matter who they are or how much they earn or how many muscle ups they do, what degree they hold, still 24 hours a day, every day. And how we spend those precious hours is a clear and dead-honest indicator of our values.

    Take care,

  • 2. Meri, Helsinki  |  May 19, 2010 at 15:33

    Couldn’t agree more. Me neither am a believer of the so called quality time. The only quality there is, is time. The things we do define what kind of people we are. As you said, we are what we do (even tho one often hears you are what you eat but that’s just a part of the truth ;-)).

    This is an idea that is really cherished in occupational therapy and may be processed with concepts such as occupational competence, occupational participation and occupational identity. These are all extremely useful in looking at the whole picture of a persons life, especially when there are some limitations to the level of participation.

    Greatful for your comment, appreciate you spending some of your time reading the article. You too, take care and do well!


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