I believe that if my personal core values are met in my work environment, I feel fulfilled, have purpose, motivation and meaning in my life. Are your core values congruent with your career choice?
Take Integrity for example. Integrity is one of my core values. I endeavour to live my personal and professional life with integrity. It can be hard and challenging and sometimes I feel that I am falling short but does this mean that I am not living my life with my core values at the heart of everything I do? There have been times when I have had to gird my loins to do what’s right over doing what’s easy.
A while ago I was walking the dogs and observed a group of teenagers throwing stones at some swans on the river. I felt intimidated by the number of them in the group and feared that if I challenged their behaviour, there might be reprisals. I am averse to conflict yet I know the difference between what’s right and wrong. I was torn.
In the end I challenged the group because I couldn’t compromise my core value. I did get threatened and was sworn at but the group moved on and the swans were free of their tormentors.
In a work environment I have experienced similar struggles. There were times in my previous career when I needed to give unwanted news or felt compelled to disagree with a proposed strategy that I felt was detrimental to the core business or wellbeing of the workforce. The familiar uncomfortable feeling would make itself felt and I would find myself wrestling with the choice to speak up or remain silent. I chose to speak up because by choosing the alternative option, although less confrontational, would have felt unacceptable to me.
I haven’t always “done the right thing” and I try not to be too hard on myself when I feel that I haven’t lived by my core values. Occasionally I just haven’t felt strong enough for the challenge but have decided to “park” the issue to tackle at a more appropriate time, or I have evaluated my choices and decided that in the whole scheme of things, my input will not influence the outcome. Equally, I do reflect on times when I haven’t spoken up and how that has made me feel. I can tell you – not very good.
There came a time, however, when my values became more and more incongruent with those of my employer. There had been a number of changes in the organisation and I no longer felt that I was a good fit which eventually resulted in redundancy for me (a long story for another time).
When deciding on a career path, it’s a good idea to find a good match in relation to your core values. How much time do you spend thinking about that? Maybe now is a good time. If you have a great match with your employers values, tell us about it.
Here are a few core values to think about. If you had to choose 5, what would they be?
I feel lucky that I have found a career that is congruent with my core values and it feels really satisfying. That’s not to say that I have it all sewn up; it’s something that I am mindful of and strive to follow as part of my life long learning.