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To live intentionally, you must surface your values – not the ones you think you should have, but the ones you really do have.

Our values are our deeply held beliefs about what is right and good.

Values drive our behaviors, whether we are conscious of them or not.

Many people adopt the values articulated by their parents, organizations or institutions. But when they are not also conscious of their own personal values and the connection between their values and what they espouse, they are often only superficially committed to them. The values support a self-image of who they want to be, not necessarily who they are, and don’t hold up during times of stress. This is one of the reasons we see values breaches so often – where we are surprised by the incongruous behavior of someone we respected.

We are all values-driven. The question is whether it’s consciously or unconsciously.

When you are conscious of your values,
You can challenge beliefs that no longer serve you.
You can make intentional choices about your actions, rather than being driven unconsciously by them.
You can be intentional about choosing relationships with people who share our values.

To surface your personal values, take time out for reflection. Identifying your values is not a mental activity – we care deeply about our values and become emotional when we connect with them.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do I care deeply about?
  • What would I stand in front of the bus to defend?
  • What do my actions say about what I really value?

If you believe something is a value but it’s not guiding your behavior, it’s not a real value … it’s simply a “good idea.”


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