Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong. Core values also help companies to determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their goals by creating an unwavering guide. There are many different types of core values in the world, depending upon the context.
Core Values About Life
Often, when you hear someone discuss why they fell in love with their other half, they will mention that they have the same values. In this case, they are often talking about core values, or internal beliefs that dictate how life should be lived.
Some examples of core values people might have about life include the following:
- A belief, or lack thereof, in God or an affiliation with a religious/spiritual institution
- A belief in being a good steward of resources and in exercising frugality
- A belief that family is of fundamental importance
- A belief that honesty is always the best policy and that trust has to be earned
- A belief in maintaining a healthy work/life balance
Parents also try to instill these types of positive core values in children in an effort to give them guiding principles for living a good life.
Of course, core values aren’t always positive. Some people may be driven by self-interest or greed, and these are core values, too, if they dictate the way the people live their lives. Negative core values can also develop when people live in fear or insecurity and are forced to focus on survival in difficult circumstances.
Some examples of negative core values include the following:
- A belief that the world is a fundamentally brutal place and that only the strong survive
- A belief that people are powerless to change their fates or personal situations
- A belief that you don’t deserve good things or relationships in life
- A belief that other people are fundamentally untrustworthy and unloving
- A belief that life is meaningless
Corporate Core Values
Companies can have core values as well. These are the guiding principles that help to define how the corporation should behave in business and perhaps beyond, if they have an additional mission to serve the community. Core values are usually expressed in the corporation's mission statement.
Some examples of core values for a company include:
- A commitment to sustainability and to acting in an environmentally friendly way. Companies like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry's have environmental sustainability as a core value.
- A commitment to innovation and excellence. Apple Computer is perhaps best known for having a commitment to innovation as a core value. This is embodied by their "Think Different" motto.
- A commitment to doing good for the whole. Google, for example, believes in making a great search engine and building a great company without being evil.
- A commitment to helping those less fortunate. TOMS shoe company gives away a pair of shoes to a needy person for every pair it sells in an effort to alleviate poverty and make life better for others.
- A commitment to building strong communities. Shell oil company donates millions of dollars to the University of Texas to improve student education and to match employee charitable donations.
As you can see, often the core values that companies have are similar to those that individuals might choose as guiding principles as well.
Some Types of Core Values
There are countless types of core values, as you can see, so you will need to choose the ones that are right for you or your organization. It’s natural to want to choose a long list of core values in an effort to be the best you can be, but limiting your selection to two or three helps you focus on your mission in life without becoming distracted.
Here are some examples of core values from which you may wish to choose:
- Good humor
- Spirit of adventure
- Service to others
Identifying Core Values
While some people or organizations might expressly share their core values, often the best way to identify these values is to watch how they behave. For example, a tobacco company that emphasizes profits over public health acts in a way that is not consistent with a stated core value of caring for others. No company will advertise negative core values, of course, but you can judge what really lies at the heart of a business’ mission by examining how they act when it counts. A core value is only true if it has an active influence and if the people or company manage to live by it, at least most of the time.
It’s also important to remember that individuals don’t necessarily choose their core values. Many people have these values instilled in them by the way their parents and community raise them. You may already live by strong core values without realizing it. To get a sense of what your core values are, ask yourself what activities bring you the most joy, or what you couldn’t live without. What gives your life meaning or what do you want to achieve? If you can articulate those answers, you’ll likely see a pattern that you can boil down into a single concept, such as a consistently positive attitude or using your creativity to make the world a better place.
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Examples of Core Values
By YourDictionaryCore values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong. Core values also help companies to determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their goals by creating an unwavering guide. There are many different types of core values in the world, depending upon the context.
Personal core values help focus and align your life choices
Choosing your personal core values is one of the critical focusing decisions that can make an amazing difference in how you live your life. As a person, they reflect the fundamental choices of who we want to be. In our network of connected decisions, they provide the goals and criteria that should influence all our other personal decisions. We derive a sense of fulfillment when living our personal values because our motivations and actions are aligned with the aspirations of who we want to be.
What are some of the sources for my personal core values?
Do you believe in God? If you do, I would expect your core beliefs to be a significant source for the values you choose to live. Certainly, parents, teachers, friends, and coaches have a major influence on what we choose to value. Anyone we consider a credible source (good or bad) can help influence our values, and our interpretation of our own life experiences may be one of our strongest teachers. We need to recognize that our own interpretations of our life experiences may be mistaken, especially during our childhood.
Our behaviors can reveal our current core values. If you haven't made this decision, ask your family and friends what they think are your core personal values. You may be surprised at what you learn. It's possible that you aren't living the values you would intentionally choose. Making this personal choice provides the opportunity to bring your values to a conscious level and make the changes you desire to lead a fulfilled life.
Frame the criteria you will use to choose your core personal values
When choosing your personal core values it is important to think about the criteria that you will use to make your selection. Since your personal values decision will have multiple answers, your criteria will also help you to prioritize and limit your list. Using our decision making model, you will want to look at other connected decisions for goals/source requirements that will influence your criteria. If you have already made decisions for a personal vision, mission statement, and/or core beliefs, you should see goals/source requirements that will influence the criteria for this decision.
With your connected decisions in mind, here are some criteria that might help in selecting your personal core values.
- Consistent with my personal vision, mission, and core beliefs - In addition to specific goals/source requirements, you can use this criteria as a way to eliminate personal values that are inconsistent with your other decisions.
- Inspirational - Personal values should encourage you to fulfill your purpose in life. Great personal values, read every day, will provide an uplift and motivation to take on the day's challenges.
- Unique - Your values need to speak to you. Don't hesitate to use values learned from others, but your core values should help define who you are and want to be. They should reflect the priorities for your life and will tend to emphasize your strengths while compensating for your weaknesses.
- Provides guidance - Personal core values should help you in your everyday decisions, particularly with relationships.
- Long lasting - This is about creating your future. Expect that your values will evolve as you grow, mature and gain life experience. However, this is not about following the latest fad. If you expect a personal core value to change next week, it likely isn't very core.
- Meaningful and rewarding - Values provide the measures that help us live meaningful lives that fulfill our given purpose. Living a life of meaning brings us joy.
Some alternatives to consider for your personal core values
Choosing your personal core values, unlike many other decisions, does not have a single answer. There are multiple values that help define the life we want to lead. Expect to find between five to nine values that will become more fixed as you manage your personal values development over time. When you write out your alternative values, be specific enough that you can be clear with yourself on what would or would not exemplify that value. There are many alternatives to consider and here are a few examples:
- Love - that can include patience, kindness, forgiveness, trust, selflessness, compassion and protection
- Integrity - which can incorporate honesty, truthfulness, responsibility, reliability, dependability, consistency, decency, justice, sincerity and commitment
- Stewardship - resourcefulness, charity, contribution, or giving
- Wisdom - consisting of intelligence, understanding, knowledge, good judgment, insight, perception, discipline, experience, personal growth, discretion and intuition
- Freedom - or alternatively, independence, free will, liberty, autonomy, and/or self-determination
- Achievement - success, or accomplishment
- Happiness - joy, contentment, pleasure, bliss, delight, and/or gladness
- Peace - harmony, unity, tranquility, or serenity
- Perseverance - persistence, or determination
- Respect - appreciate, esteem, value, or cherish
With any option you consider, it is important to have a clear and distinct description so that you can refine and improve your personal core values based on new experiences and learning. These descriptions will also enable you to be unambiguous when you communicate your values to others.
What are the benefits of choosing my core personal values? And consequences of not choosing ...
No person likes making mistakes. Having well defined personal core values helps us avoid making choices that work against who we want to be. Our values become a clear set of guidelines for our words and actions, consistently moving us in the direction aligned with our core beliefs and personal vision. Our life becomes one of our choosing, not one that is directed by the decisions of others. Our values help us build and maintain our identity as unique individuals.
Choosing and knowing your values can provide a number of benefits that include:
- Reducing stress
- Making better decisions
- Finding environments and people that support your aspirations
- Increasing joy and happiness
- Supporting your growth and development
- Helping in times of conflict or confusion
- Growing contribution and value
- Providing motivation
Knowing it or not, choosing it or not, all of us have a set of personal core values. Prevent discontent, conflict, frustration and lack of fulfillment by choosing consciously the values by which you want to live.
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