Do you know your core values?

We had an IT Community Senior Leadership Team retreat this week during which we attended a workshop on the ‘New World of Work’. The discussions reminded me, among other things, of the importance of knowing your personal core values, the alignment of shared values in a team, and the power of working off those shared values.

Personal values have always been a huge guiding principle for me, and I make most of my big decisions relative to alignment with those values. While that usually happens subconsciously, the training reminded me to check in on my values again deliberately.

Do you know your core values?

Our core values – whether we are aware of them or not – define how we think and guide our decisions. They also have a significant impact on whether we’re happy and satisfied or not. Core values made me seek new jobs and leave existing ones. They made me push for extensive life changes. Whenever my situation aligned with my core values, I was happy and felt accomplished. When I had made choices for other reasons (e.g., money), I usually was frustrated and often times felt miserable after a short time.

As I said, I was curious and revisited my values to see if they had changed. They didn’t.

Here are the core values I hold dear and close to my heart:

  • Family
  • Integrity
  • Autonomy

I would encourage you to reflect on your core values as well if you haven’t done so lately. Share them with your coworkers if you feel like doing so, or keep them as your own personal guiding star.

Getting down to three core values is much harder than you would think. Most people can easily brainstorm their 10-15 most important values, but how do you pick the three that matter most (and if you’re like me, you cannot really consistently memorize or handle any list that is larger than three entries)?

Here are two ways to explore your three core values:

  1. Write down your 10-15 values on flip cards – one core value per card. Then give away three of them. Then another three. Then two more. Keep going until you’re down to the remaining three that you would fight for really hard. You will see that it gets really painful as you get closer to the three. There are values that you really like, they’re just not your top three, and you have to give them away.
  2. Use an app to guide (i.e., force) you through the process. On the iPhone, I found this free app that does a pretty good job: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/valuescardsort/id1510029675. What I like about the app is that it’s easy, quick, and intuitive. What I liked less is that you are limited to the values the programmer put into it.

Go explore or revisit your core values!

If you’re interested, here are the values that the app came back for me. Mostly the same; I think the difference is semantics. Pick whatever way of exploration you like best.

  • Self-care
  • Trust
  • Honesty
  • Authenticity
  • Independence

Did you like this post? Want to read more?

Check out our book for more thoughts and a week-by-week guide to make strategic changes to improve your health, career, and life purpose:

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First
A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps
By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk
ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: PaperbackKindle

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Making decisions – One-way and two-way doors

This week I wanted to share a thought on decision making. We face many decisions in these ultra-dynamic times. Many of them might seem “above our pay grade,” or we might be hesitant because we don’t have all the data we would love to have in an ideal world, or we are worried because we cannot find the time to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t.’

While we don’t want to make random decisions, shooting from the hip, these times require swift decisions and actions. We need to avoid becoming a ‘deer in the headlights,’ freezing because we are overwhelmed by the decisions we are confronted with.

A way to reduce our angst of fast-paced high-judgment decisions is to apply the concept of one-way versus two-way doors. This framework is a key (and well-published) principle that Amazon Executives and employees apply when confronted with high-impact decisions in environments of incomplete data (i.e. every day). The idea is to analyze every decision as to whether it is a one-way or a two-way door.

One-way doors – These decisions and their impacts are irreversible. Once you made the decision, you cannot easily go back, and major harm will be done if you have to. On those decisions, you want to do as much investigation and scenario planning as you can possibly afford. A big system upgrade or platform switch might be one example of such decisions. Once switched, it will be costly to go back, and hence we need to ensure thorough testing.

Two-way doors – The majority of decisions are actually two-way doors. If you make a mistake, you can go back without major damage, or you simply tweak what you do to account for the miss. For a two-way door decision, you want to avoid getting into analysis-paralysis. Once you have a pretty good understanding, you need to stop ruminating and start trying. Risk can be limited through smaller pilots and simple tests, but you want to rather get real-world data than spend too much time in theoretical analysis. If things turn out differently than expected, you adjust your plan and try again. Experimentation, short learning cycles, and agile adjustments are the name of the game. Making process changes or trying out new features are perfect examples for two-way doors. If you learn that something doesn’t work, you can revert back or keep iterating until you achieve the desired outcome.

In almost all cases, it’s better to try and learn than to do nothing. Some decisions are one-way doors, but by far not all – understand which one is which.


Did you like this post? Want to read more?

Check out our book for more thoughts and a week-by-week guide to make strategic changes to improve your health, career, and life purpose:

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First
A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps
By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk
ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: PaperbackKindle

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.