A World in Transition: Insights from Transition Hub - Our True Guide in Times of Change
Some 2500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus declared that – ‘nothing endures but change’ and today, this ancient wisdom is as relevant as ever.
Change is how we face challenges - innovate, develop, and grow and it is in
these times that we need a trusted guide as we navigate our way through. Challenges encompass the breadth of human experience from the intrinsic such as the loss of livelihood, or illness, to the existential such as an epidemic, or even a pandemic. So, who is this trusted guide, and how do we find them?
Perhaps you’re thinking of a mentor, a family member, or close work colleague – all could help - but what about your closest, trusted and most available ally, the one that can authentically guide you every step of the way – the one that is with you all the time - your values.
Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘principles or standards of behaviour, one’s judgement of what is important in life,’ our values focus on what really matters to us and to understand and align with them enables us to confidently face life’s challenges. They are like our psychological fingerprint and when we authentically align with them, this builds our wellbeing and manages anxiety in the face of existential crises – helping us successfully manage change.
When we understand, align, and live our values - individually, in our teams, organisations and communities – we thrive.
This happens because we are aligning what we believe with what we do – and that makes all the difference. In times of challenge our values guide us through the twists and turns of life. Roy Disney once said, ‘making decisions is easy when you know what your values are’ - they provide the filter to enable us to make the authentic decisions we need to live our best life.
Our values are our true north and trusted guide in one – guiding us in a way that is authentic and supportive of our wellbeing – like gut sense. They act as a filter, setting boundaries for ourselves and others - illustrating what is ok and what is not. In identifying your values, think about what really matters to you, what fills you with a deep sense of meaning - they really need to matter, as they define how you show up authentically. Researcher and author Jim Collins suggested that, ‘if you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities’ - and similarly so with our values. We need to get to the heart of what it is that we value most.
Academic and researcher, Brene Brown, suggests that when it comes to establishing values, ‘if everything is important, then nothing is a driver for you.’
In this, our core values need to be built on solid foundations, so, try to think of just two, or three. It may not seem like many; however, they really need to be important to you.
Our values are innate, and it is in times of change that we need them most, as they help us understand what is important. Like a muscle, the more you exercise them the more embedded and operationalised they will become – enabling authenticity, lowering anxiety and helping you manage change.
As Heraclitus said – nothing endures but change and with the current changes in our world, our values are more important than ever. They manifest the best of what is, so we can be the best we can be.
Author bio: As our resident positive psychology and positive education expert, Andrew Cochrane works with individuals and organisations to maximise their potential through values alignment.