These days it seems like the concept of standing for something needs to be political in nature and have a good amount of anger behind it. Hopefully I’m wrong, and my perspective is clouded by all the angry or negative headlines floating across the bottom of the TV or in social media newsfeeds.
The truth is, we need to be passionate about what we stand for, and whatever it is that we do stand for, should be grounded in our personal faith and values, and with the stated goal of making the world around us a better place.
Today I don’t want to talk about ‘standing for something’ in the sense of speaking out or against some ‘thing’ but rather what it is that you stand for as a person. When people see you and interact with you, who is it that they see? What adjectives would they use to describe you?
My hope is that they describe you in such a way that is in alignment with what you aspire to be at your core. Like anything though, ensuring we are living our values and showing up as our best selves is a process and a journey. So how do we get there?
This idea of standing for something hit me recently thanks to a bag of my old childhood stuff that my parents dropped off during one of their last visits.
The bag had all sorts of papers, trinkets and mementos from grade school through high school, and while rummaging through it I came across a scholarship essay I wrote in the 8th grade.
I was going to a Catholic middle school at the time and the topic of the essay was focused on faith and values. No, I’m not going to get into religion here, but I do want to share the line I opened my essay with as I feel it is foundational to this topic:
Without faith a man can’t stand, but without values a man has nothing to stand for.
So what is it that we believe in?
What are those values that, at our core, define us?
And based upon that foundation what do we stand for?
Get Clear on What You Stand For
The pace of society today feels, at times, impossible to keep up with. We are busy being busy and subject to the ever increasing number of distractions and talking heads telling us what we should like, think, feel, eat, wear, buy, or believe in.
Often in our attempt to ‘keep up’ we can lose our sense of identity. We forget who we are and who we want to be.
All of a sudden we are living someone else’s version of our life. So how do we take a step back and reclaim our sense of self and write our own version of our life? Let’s start by building a foundation…
What do you believe in?
First, let’s start with a baseline definition:
Faith: complete trust or confidence in someone or something; strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof
Belief: an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something
No matter what your faith or beliefs are, we all need to believe in something. Maybe it is God, or a higher power. Maybe we believe in ourselves or others. Perhaps we believe in a specific ideal or moral statute. Whatever it is, be clear on what your beliefs are and where they originate.
I don’t want to begin to give guidance or advice on how to validate your belief system, but rather highlight the importance of knowing what it is and how it shows up in your life through the choices you make and your vision for the future.
Understand your faith and belief system, and through it build the strength to stand. Now let’s find out what we stand for…
What are your values?
Values: a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life
Now that you have a solid understanding of your faith/belief system, it is time to start to dig into what we value in our life.
Understanding and living our values helps:
- Shape the direction we take our life,
- Inform our choices and decisions, and
- Create our reputation and legacy.
To help firm up our values, I want to give a few bits of general guidance along with some tools that will help us discern what we value – I’ll also share my results from the two tools I reference below.
Understand the Non-Negotiables – If you want to confirm your core values, start by being aware of your thought pattern when making decisions or thinking through options. These guidelines or rules that you consciously or subconsciously run through will either give you hints or spell out what some of your personal and core values actually are… let’s walk through some examples.
- Refuse to lie to get ahead or stay out of trouble no matter what? Then honesty is a clear core value.
- Driven to look at or do things differently for the sake of progress or creating something new? Then you value innovation.
- Are you focused on being honest and having strong moral principles? Then integrity is a critical value.
- Do you make sure you do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it? Then reliability is a core value.
The Mirror Effect – What you expect in others – Flipping my last point around, what are some of the attributes you look for in people on your team, or those you do business with?
What do you expect in the leaders, politicians or role-models that you look up to and support?
Likely, those attributes would and should be similar to your non-negotiables and speak to your core values and guiding principles.
Before I wrap up, I want to share two free tools that you can play around with to help you further dig into your value systems.
The majority of the results should help validate what you already know, and at the same time some of the results may surprise you. I’ve included my results following each of the tool descriptions so you know what to expect.
I was fortunate to be introduced to both of these tools by my professional coach. Both exercises were impactful for me, and I still reference the results during times of self-reflection or goal-setting, and I’m excited to share them with you.
So let’s check them out.
WordClouds.com – Technically, this tool isn’t specifically for uncovering values, however I’ll provide you with the guidance I received from my coach which turned it into a values-focused tool for my purposes.
The exercise is to amass all of the written quotes, phrases, speeches, passages, etc. that most resonate with you for whatever reason. Whatever they are, they just feel good and speak to what you believe in.
Once you have everything, paste all of the text into the Word Cloud service. It will spit out the most prominent words across all of the inputs you provided. The words that showed up most frequently in the pasted text are shown in the larger fonts. Here is mine:
A few words that stood out to me when I reviewed mine: Commitment, Excellence, Success, Dedication, Quality, Sacrifice, and Courage.
Personal Values Assessment (PVA) – This next tool, as the name clearly states, is focused on digging into your personal values, and does so in a survey format. The survey is conducted by the Barrett Values Center, and their introduction to the survey is as follows:
Who you are, what you hold dear, what upsets you, and what underlies your decisions, are all connected to your personal values.
Your values reflect what is important to you. They are a shorthand way of describing your motivations. Together with your beliefs, they are the causal factors that drive your decision-making.
The Personal Values Assessment is a simple survey that takes just a few minutes of your time and provides a wealth of information about why you do what you do.
Check out the survey here. Once you are done, the results will be e-mailed to you for free.
Here is the result of my assessment:
Along with the chart, there is a breakdown of what the hourglass represents, what the positive or limiting values mean, along with next steps on how to further explore your identified set of values.
The Road Ahead
My hope is that after you take the time to confirm your faith / belief system, and solidify your values, that you not only reaffirm the strength that allows you to stand, but also have a renewed clarity and purpose towards what you stand for!
No matter what it is that each of us believes and values, let’s make sure that it shows up in who we are, how we conduct ourselves, and in all that we strive to be and become – each and every day.
Make no apologies for who you are and all that goes into you being your very best self.
Live your life. Live your purpose. Stand for Something. Stand for Who You Are.
Discussion Question: What do you stand for, and how do you show up day in and day out? Are those two things in alignment? If not, what can you to make sure they do?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."