Core and Supporting Values

Last week, I’ve asked if your values overlap with your employers’. As I mentioned, I looked at the list of values and found out my top 2, but I never said what they are. Here you go: legacy and making a difference. That’s what I call my core values. I’ve arrived at those by reflecting on my own life this far, revisiting the main highlights, interactions, and pivotal moments.

Several months after going through that process, I went back to the list to take another look at the other values I had also hightlighted: fairness, gratitude, humor, initiative, patience, personal fulfillment, responsibility, and spirituality. Those are what I call my supporting values.

What’s the distinction between core and supporting? When I look into my future, I hope my core values represent the life I’ve lived. As I look through my past, current moment, and the time between now and my future, I believe my supporting values will guide me to the future I want.

As time goes on, I turn the knobs on each one of those values, adjusting them to handle whatever situation I’m going through, and preparing me to move on to the next step in my journey. By being aware of my values I’m better able to set goals and processes to achieve them; whatever I come up with has to be directly related to one or more of those values.

So what does Improving have to do with any of that?

Improving’s guiding principles of Excellence, Involvement, and Dedication, our culture and Improvers provide me the inspiration, motivation, and environment to live into my values.

As I re-read James Clear’s Atomic Habits, I’ve run into these bits where he talks about how we “imitate the close”:

We soak up the qualities and practices of those around us.

Improvers’ qualities and practices have caught my attention when I first met a few of these folks back in 2007. After all these years living in this culture, Clear’s words resonate with me deeply:

One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior. New habits seem achievable when you see others doing them every day.

It doesn’t end there:

Your culture sets your expectation for what is “normal”. Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have yourself. You’ll rise together.

I’d like to add something to that: in my case, I already had habits that I considered good, and I’ve been able to not only keep those habits but also help others build those habits themselves. Oftentimes, it’s very hard to keep good habits when you’re surrounded by individuals whose habits are the polar opposite of ours.

To wrap up this pair of posts with actionable tips straight off of Clear’s book:

Join a culture where (1) your desired behavior is the normal behavior and (2) you already have something in common with the group.

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