Thursday, August 20, 2015

And My Top 3 Personal Values Are ...

You might think that successful leaders had a whole range of values that were important to them. Turns out, you're wrong. At least according to researchers Kouzes & Posner. There's exactly 4.

Of course I'm overstating the point here a bit. I recently came across this ranked list of personal values, and digging deeper I found both the source of the list as well as a worksheet that goes with it.

I was telling Shira about this, and the Sociology major in her kicked in, suggesting we both rank and compare our results. So that's what we did. First, here's the full list of values:

  • Achievement
  • Autonomy
  • Beauty
  • Caring
  • Caution
  • Challenge
  • Communication
  • Competence
  • Competition
  • Cooperation
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Customer focus
  • Decisiveness
  • Dependability
  • Determination
  • Discipline
  • Diversity
  • Effectiveness
  • Empathy
  • Equality
  • Fairness
  • Family
  • Family time
  • Flexibility
  • Freedom
  • Friendship
  • Fun
  • Growth
  • Happiness
  • Harmony
  • Health
  • Honesty and Integrity
  • Hope
  • Human relationships
  • Humor
  • Independence
  • Individualism
  • Innovation
  • Intelligence
  • Involvement
  • Learning
  • Love and affection
  • Loyalty
  • Open-mindedness
  • Organization
  • Patience
  • Power
  • Productivity
  • Profitability
  • Prosperity and Wealth
  • Quality
  • Quantity
  • Recognition
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Risk-taking
  • Security
  • Service to others
  • Simplicity
  • Speed
  • Spirituality and faith
  • Strength
  • Task focus
  • Teamwork
  • Trust
  • Truth
  • Uniqueness
  • Variety
  • Winning
  • Wisdom

First we picked our 10 top values, then narrowed these 10 to 5 and then narrowed these 5 to 3. My results were as follows:

Top 10: Competence, Courage, Curiosity, Discipline, Flexibility, Freedom, Happiness, Health, Innovation, Open-mindedness

Top 5: Curiosity, Discipline, Flexibility, Happiness, Health

Top 3: Curiosity, Discipline, Flexibility,

How'd I do? First off, other than competence, I share no ranked characteristics with the "admired leaders" found on the original list. Oh well, there's go my lifelong dream of being an admired leader.

Next, Shira's too smart to post her values here, but I can tell you we had exactly one in common: competence. There it is again; I wonder what that means? Being the optimist, I told her that not sharing values is a good thing: it means we have our bases covered. While I'm busy worrying about being flexible, she can worry about her values. Not sure she bought this line of thinking. It's also worth noting that while Shira and I didn't share values, both of us could guess what each other had selected. That's what 17 years of marriage gets you (not in agreement, but self aware enough to know it).

Finally, what kind of monster am I? How could I not have ranked Health and Happiness in my top 3? After mulling over this list for the last couple of days, I think it's because: (a) I was trying to be clever, and (b) Health and Happiness are things you create through more fundamental behaviors. Want health? Be disciplined in taking care of yourself. Want happiness? Be flexible enough to enjoy what life is throwing at you. That sort of thing.

All I know is, what started as a cheesy exercise has actually been thought provoking. Take a few minutes, print out the worksheet and try it for yourself. Oh, and do share the results in the comments.

One last point of clarification: I'm intentionally publishing my top 10/5/3 values for posterity because I'm curious what my take on this exercise will be 5, 10 and more years down the road.* Do my values change? The Internet never forgets. I fully intend to cringe / laugh at myself when I take this same test in 10 years. See you then.

*Only after proof reading this post a couple times did I realize that I finished it explicitly talking about curiosity, one of my top 3 values. Apparently, I really do care about this value.

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