It’s that time of year when many of us Americans reflect on what we are thankful for. Oftentimes what we are thankful for is also what we value the most in our lives. So I’ve decided to devote a Thanksgiving post to a critical component of personal branding: personal values.
There’s no doubt that personal values shape our sense of self, and are therefore an essential part of developing our personal brand. In fact, they are at the very core of our brands. They embody what we want to be in this world, what we want to stand for, and how we want to relate to others. There are no such things as right values or wrong values, just as there are not right or wrong favourite flavors of ice cream. They are highly individual and personal — and are what make us unique in this world.
Here are some important reasons to connect with your values:
Values bring purpose and meaning into our lives.
Identifying your values and living consistently with them can be a way of injecting purpose, meaning and passion into your brand. They represent your deepest desires — what’s most important to you, deep in your heart. By connecting to your values, you can bring a sense of vitality and meaning to your brand, and by communicating this consistently, others will know what you stand for.
Values lead to a sense of well-being and fulfillment.
Living in congruence with your values (i.e., your behaviour or actions align with core values) can lead to feelings of happiness, fulfillment and well-being. Living inconsistently with your values can lead to feeling uncomfortable or dissatisfied — something will feel “off” and your brand will weaken.
Values can be our greatest guide.
They are the leading principles that can guide us through life, kind of like a compass. If the compass points north, then you know your direction and how you want to get there. I should point out that values are different from goals…they aren’t about what you want to achieve or cross off a list in your life, but rather about how you want to behave, act or relate to others along the way.
“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
― Roy Disney
Values can motivate us.
Values can serve as a great motivator through life. They are especially important when things get difficult…they can make our hard work and struggle worth the effort. Furthermore, if we identify discrepancies between our behaviours (how we are living) and our values (how we want to live), this realization can be a tremendous motivator to help us take committed action to improve our lives by living in better accordance with our values.
When evaluating personal values, here are a few important questions to consider:
What do you want to stand for?
What sort of person do you want to be?
What sort of personal strengths and qualities do you want to cultivate?
What do you want to do?
How do you ideally want to behave?
It’s really helpful to look at a list of values and narrow them down to your top ten. I like the list by Russ Harris found on the third page of his free downloads.
It’s also important to take stock of your values in different domains of your life, such as work, family relationships, social relationships, community and health. Think about how you want to exude your personal brand across these different domains, then identify specific ways you can live more congruently with your values in each domain. There’s another Russ Harris worksheet in the link above to help with this.
Of course, values exploration requires putting aside some time for personal reflection. However, what it will bring to your personal brand — and your life — will be well worth it.