Firms talk about values all the time - they are what shape them, their culture and their people. It is what they use as guiding principles in their recruitment processes. They hold them up as shining lights to guide them, their standards and behaviour. They know them off the top of their head. So what are yours?
This is a deep question that not many of us take the time to explore. We don’t understand what guides us, what is important to us and what are our very own values. Many people just go with the flow and let days creep into months and then years, like a life without goals. By understanding your values and ensuring they align with your career path and employer, the ride is often a much smoother one.
Values don’t just consist of one question you need to ask yourself, but of many. This discovery journey occurred for me after reading The Values Factor by Dr John DeMartini.
Values evolve through the different stages of our life. It begins in childhood, and then adolescent and then early adulthood, and then morphs into your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, all the while adapting to you and your personality changes. Some values may stay the same your entire life and some may changes due to events that happen. My identity has certainly been shaped by events in my life which has created my social idealism. These are the things we say to one’s self or have as an inner belief - the comments, statements or views that start with ‘I should….’ or ‘I am supposed to…..’. You will find a lot of these inner beliefs are shaped around authority figures, societal view, gender roles, life situations and other’s happiness. However rarely do we take the time to discover and understand just who we are, what we like and what we value.
Dr DeMartini encourages the review of 13 questions in this book. These centre around dominant thoughts, social setting conversations, what your visualise, your internal dialogue, your space and your energy. Discovering your hierarchy of values allows you to look at your life more clearly, as if you are looking at your life for the first time through a new lens. This lens shows you your true passion and drivers, things you may have known but not previously with such clarity.
Living a purposeful and fulfilled life through De Martini’s eyes is done so by aligning your unique values with your life. From a career perspective, this propels you to align your strengths and values in aspects of your work, allowing for a deeper engagement and level of commitment. When your values align with the work that you do, ‘flow’ is much easier to achieve. The psychological definition of flow is a highly focused mental state. Flow (not money!) is what brings satisfaction in life according to Mihaly Csikszentmihaly (his TED talk is here).
Discovering your own values as your enter your professional career is an extremely important step to take. Understanding who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe in creates great self-awareness and understanding. At a time in the legal industry where mental health issues are at a higher level than ever before, taking the time to know yourself, your limits and what you value most in life will help you to build a life with balance, with inclusions of the things you value you most, and to take steps to outsource the things that you do not. This does not mean that everything you do at work will be rainbows and sunshine, and as a graduate there is much learning that occurs through the non-exciting tasks. However, when you and those close to you understand what drives you, you find that it is with ease that you can create a more fulfilled and happy life.
So as you read about firm’s values on their website and in their brochures, take time to think, if they were to ask you your 4 Values, firstly do you know them, and secondly could you share them?