Living Our Values - without going to war

In the Leadership Mind 10 month practice program, we have been illuminating and inquiring into some of the deeper and repeating patterns of mind that limit our ability to show up as connected, authentic leaders (and human beings) operating from our full capacity of mind, heart and spirit.

Whether we are stepping into the personal leadership of our own lives or in our workplace and communities, what and how we think has a huge impact on the quality of our internal experience and on how we are able (or not able) to show up.

We have noticed that the beliefs that connect most deeply to our values are a powerful and crucial place to inquire.

Values are both at the core of what guides, inspires and defines us and our work, and also turn out to be very often at the core of what disconnects, confuses and stresses us out. 

When we believe our values are not being respected or are being threatened, our own thinking often fuels powerful emotions and reactivity, reducing our willingness and in fact our capacity to listen and learn.

When we overly attach to our own values, we can miss the opportunity to think creatively and see possibility beyond our habitual view.

The way our stressful mind processes values can create surprising and powerful blind spots, divisiveness, and lead us to war with ‘those people’ that don’t hold our values in our families, communities, workplaces and the world. It can also cause stressful 'war' inside ourselves. Rather than helping us to be more wise, agile and creative in these moments of difference, attaching tightly to our values makes us rigid and pulls us into existing and often polarized positions and reactions, often (ironically) violating our own values in that moment.

I attach to the belief "she should respect me", and go to war demanding her respect - disrespecting her, disrespecting myself, and teaching disrespect in the process. That is not what I want (although the adrenaline rush can be temporarily attractive), and is often not visible to me in the moment. Yet I need to engage some deep practice to get out of this trap without overriding or denying my own values and value, and without defaulting to passivity, denial or superficial positivity.

While it can feel great, connecting and empowering to speak our values, put them on posters and find other people who share the same version of them that we do, genuinely living from and with our values is much more challenging. Learning how to hold our values in a way that allows us to genuinely live them turns out to be much more complex than just identifying and stating them, and feeling how important they are to us.

Cultivating a mindset where we can be connected to our own values and be genuinely open to engaging, learning and thinking creatively in contexts where our values are challenged requires rigorous personal practice right at the frontier of our own beliefs and reactions, whether it is in politics, our workplace, or in our homes with our own children or partners.

Using The Work to engage your value beliefs can take you into the depth of the complexity of your own inner system in a way that gives access to powerful learning about yourself, others and the world. The rigorous looking and listening available through inquiry, and the mindset we can cultivate by honestly engaging our own beliefs, is the place we can transform our relationship to our deeply held value beliefs in a way that creates the possibility of fundamentally new ways of thinking, communicating and acting in the reality of being human together.   

The Work provides a simple, clear and accessible structure in which we can challenge our own thinking compassionately and learn from what emerges.

16 years in practice, this transformative power of The Work continues to amaze and move me as I do my own work and support others in doing theirs. 

Where are you finding your own values challenged in ways that take you away from living them? What are you believing when that happens?

Write down your beliefs and you can apply the questions of The Work to find what is true for you beyond attachment.

Click below for more information or to apply for the Leadership Mind 10 Month Intensive Coaching Program.