Discovering Your Values
What moves you?


What are Attitudes, Values and Beliefs and why are they important?

Values are what you move towards and away from. Tony Robbins says they "are like a compass that directs your life". Values motivate and demotivate, and they justify behaviour.

For example someone might say: I did it because I was angry. Or. I did it because I was in love. Or. I didn't go the party because I didn't want to hurt her feelings.

Values are organised in hierarchies, with the most abstract ones having the greatest influence. For example spirituality is more abstract than family, which in turn is more abstract than money.

There are the two main categories of values. They are:

  1. Away-from values.
  2. Towards-values.

Towards-values are what you move towards and 'away-from values' are what you move away from. An away-from value may either prevent the fulfilment of a towards-value or act as driver towards fulfilling a towards-value. For example 'poverty' as an away-from value may motivate a person towards 'prosperity' or 'money' or it may block the fulfilment of these two values.

Values organised in a functional hierarchy will support the actualisation of other values in that hierarchy, whereas conflict between values in a dysfunctional hierarchy may cause a blockage within the system.

Values conflict can exist between an 'away-from' and a 'towards-value', or between two towards-values. This may be experienced as being in two minds about something or as a double bind.

There are two main types of values:

  1. Ends values
  2. Means values

A means value will lead you towards the fulfilment of an ends value. Money is a means value which many people believe will bring happiness, am ends value.

Values may be elicited within contexts at different levels of specificity. For example a sales person could elicit his/her values in the contexts of life, career, job and sales. Each context will have its own values hierarchy.

Values are expressed as a nominalisation (e.g. love) with a specific meaning to the individual. The term for this is criterial equivalence. No two people can ever have identical meanings for a value - or any term for that matter. A difference in values and criterial equivalence are two causes of the conflict experienced between individuals, organisations and nations.

Your values hierarchies interact at varying levels of specificity, within a structure that has order and relationships, to form a system. Professor Clare Graves developed a model to show how people, organisations and nations evolve through a level of values. The most basic level dealing with survival while the higher levels dealing with self actualisation and spirituality.

Attitudes are at a higher logical level than values and are comprised of clusters of belief systems.

Beliefs are at a lower logical level than values. A belief system is a cluster of beliefs around a value. Core beliefs are less easily defined, that is, they are more abstract.

According to Morris Massey values are formed during three significant periods:

  1. Imprint period from birth to 7 years of age.
  2. Modelling period from 8 -14 years.
  3. Socialisation period from 15 -21 years.

Major sources of values are family, friends, religion, school, geography, economics, media and Internet. Some of your most important values are formed around the age of ten years.

Values exert a powerful effect upon your life. They determine how you relate to your family and your partner, what products you buy, how you perform your job and who you vote for. Values dictate your leisure time activities, your interests, what you learn, your religious convictions and so on. The 'generation gap' is a statement about values.

Marketing companies spend £millions, on clearly identifying the values of niche target groups, so that they may present a product in a way that the customer / recipient will be receptive to.

Your values determine how much money you can earn and what assets you accumulate. Have you seen the fifty year olds queuing at wealth creation seminars, still trying to get a handle on money? Have you met savvy eighteen year olds who already have a successful property and share trading portfolio? The difference is in their value systems (model of the world), not just knowledge and expertise.

How To Elicit Values

The secret to discovering and accurately eliciting your values is to ask intelligent questions and answer them honestly, without interpretation or rationalisation by the conscious mind.

The following list of values, in the context of career, were elicited from a 36 year old man by asking him the question: What is important to you in career?
  • Respect
  • Helping people
  • Being a good team leader
  • Solving problems
  • Morality / ethics
  • Travel
  • Independence
  • Prosperity / money
  • Satisfaction
  • Working in service industry
  • Worthwhile causes
  • Recognition
  • Belief products / service

Ranked in order of importance:

1. Prosperity / money
2. Satisfaction
3. Respect
4. Independence
5. Recognition
6. Helping people
7. Belief in product / service

8. Being a good team leader
9. Worthwhile causes
10. Morality / ethics
11. Solving problems
12. Travel
13. Working in service industry

The next step is to check for values alignment by running the entire hierarchy through a piece of content, and calibrating the feedback. In the case of this woman I role modelled as an employer with her as a prospective employee, by feeding the values back to her in sequence as follows:

"My company has an opening for a new employee and I think you may fit the criteria. In fact in this job you'll be able to earn a lot of money and become very prosperous and I think this may give you a lot of satisfaction because not only will you gain respect you'll have the independence that I know is very important to you. This means you'll get the recognition that comes from helping people. What's more the service and products that we market will give you the opportunity to become a good team leader for our worthwhile cause. We require someone like you that has a sense of morality and ethics, is good at solving problems and likes the opportunity to travel while working in the service industry. Are you interested?" She replied, 'Yes". When you feed information back to someone within their value system it becomes very attractive and difficult for them to resist.

Does your value system support you?

Not everyone has a functional value system. As a child, you had no choice in forming your values. As an adult you are stuck with them.

Let's use the example of money. If, in the context of career or business, money is not in your top five values then it is unlikely you will be successful at making enough money to satisfy you.

You may think that money is important to you. You may work hard for money. You may worry about money but that does not mean that money is in your hierarchy. In fact, poor people probably think about money more than anyone else, yet when I have elicited the values of a poor person, money is not a high value. They usually have a high away-from value on poverty but money is not in their toward-values.

Just because you consciously think about money, does not mean your unconscious mind thinks about money in the same way. However, because your decisions and behaviours are guided by your values, at the level of the unconscious mind, then to bring about change we have to work with the unconscious mind. And this is where the NLP tools and techniques are worth their weight in gold.

In simple terms, my approach is to help the client remove the poverty value from the away-from hierarchy, and add money as a value to the towards-value hierarchy. There is a bit more to it than that but the procedure is quite straight forward and the changes can be verified by another practitioner.

You may not have any problem in making money but what about other areas of your life? Can you see value in being able to elicit values in life, relationships, career, business, politics, sales, marketing and so on? Once you have a thorough understanding of values, do you think you might better understand yourself; be able to create more harmony in relationships, and find it easier to motivate others to action?

So, What Is Important To You?

First decide upon a context.

For example: life, relationships, career, family, health, business, prosperity, diet, housing, friends and so on. Make sure it is at the correct level of specificity then ask the following questions:

1. What is important in this context?
(Review in your mind a variety of meaningful memories in this context. Keep asking yourself the above question until you run out of words.




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