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Do YOU know your values?

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

You see, if there is one thing that can get me - let's say - agitated it is inequality. And injustice.

It's probably why I started studying law back in the olden days. (Well, that, plus I didn't have a clue what else I would be doing with my life).

I never thought much about it. I most certainly never thought about equality and justice being 'my values'.

Sure, I read feminist magazines, feminist books, even did a course on Feminist Classics in university.

I didn't think much of it. I thought it was just one of these things, a quirk, something to do, something to have a good old rant with a friend about before going back to - you know - the day job.

Something that my mum would roll her eyes about and excuse me to others for saying 'yes, that's what's she's always going on about'. (Come to think of it, she STILL does!).

That was until I came to the UK.

Where, in quick succession I was:

  • Given the job of looking after what the local council called The Compact - an agreement between public, private and voluntary sectors on how they wanted to work together. Equality and diversity was front and centre of this relationship.

  • Became a new line manager and was given a 3 (three!) day course on equality and diversity

Equality hit me squarely in the face, right there and then.

Because it became abundantly clear to me right there that what I naively regarded as something I could (clearly) get very involved in was, in fact, one of the things at the core of my being.

That equality was a value at the core of how I wanted to treat people and be treated. That it was non-negotiable.

But, more than that, that it was not a passive thing, something that - on occasion - you have a nice moan about to your best friend.

No, my values, in this case the values of equality and diversity was a string of actions, a string of decisions, that would shape everything I did.

You see, I don't think we get taught enough about values.

  • We see company values on a poster on the wall and - at best - shrug our shoulders at them. (Or at worst, on a daily basis battle with people who are acting in ways that have nothing to do with the great-sounding words on the wall).

  • We don't know how to distinguish between our own values and those that our parents or caregivers have instilled in us. And spend half a life-time before we realise that we are living in accordance with someone else's values (and if you want to know more about that you may want read this blog).

  • We get frustrated and angry without realising that it is because our values are being violated.

  • .We don't realise or acknowledge that our values are not the same as those of other people and that they - as we - have just as much right to their values.

  • We don't know how to express our values. Make daily decisions on the basis of our values. Use our values as the guidelines for our life.

It is so important to know your values. Because once you've seen them you can't 'unsee' them.

Once you're clear on what you stand for then that's what you stand for.

Once you know what your values are decisions become easier to make.

Which doesn't mean that it will - necessarily - make your life any easier.

Because living in alignment with those values may mean having to stand up for them when no one else is bothered. It may mean speaking up when others don't. (It may mean that your mum will forever roll her eyes at you).

I know what my values are. The alignment piece will continue to be a work in progress.

But how about you? What are YOUR values? What do YOU stand for?


Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.

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