Are You Realizing the Value of Your Values?

What are your values? Can you clearly articulate them?

We don’t often have serious conversations about our values and I’ve noticed how powerful it can be for people to spend time really exploring and writing about how their values show up in their lives. This is a standard part of my process when coaching executives, and while I’ve seen it benefit that individual, it’s also a gift to offer your loved ones so they have a better understanding of what makes you, you.

I became aware of a book by Robb Lucy, How Will You Be Remembered? In his book, he talks about a process for writing a Legacy Letter. Most people think of a legacy as what we leave behind when we are gone from this earth. Mr. Lucy makes the argument that we shouldn’t wait until our eulogy to understand our legacy. We can enjoy our legacy while we are still alive by intentionally thinking about how we can contribute to the world and then living in a way that ensures that legacy.

One of the first steps is to identify your top five values and then write about how you live those values in your daily life. In doing so, it’s a way to tell the stories that shape who you are. It is a powerful part of my coaching because it offers insight into why we behave in a particular way and why we are triggered to react to others’ behaviors or words.

The additional bonus, per Robb Lucy, is that this story-telling provides a vehicle for sharing more about you with your loved ones and future generations. Those who will never meet you will have an opportunity to get to know you through these anecdotes about your values.

If this is something you are interested in exploring, here are some simple steps to get started:

  1. Identifying your values may sound overwhelming, so I find it helpful to refer to a values list to begin selecting which words resonate with you. It may be easier to start by selecting twenty words and then narrow it down to about five. Which ones rise to the top of your list?
  2. Write out YOUR definition of each value.
  3. Reflect on how these values are showing up in your life and write a story about how you live each one. Include outcomes and lessons learned in each tale.

Now, review your stories and ask yourself, “Is this how I want to make my mark in the world?”  

If the answer is yes, continue on this path and think about what else you can do to continue to contribute in your unique way. Revisit your stories every six months and confirm you are satisfied with what you’ve written, or add/replace with a more recent story from your life.

If the answer is no to the question above, consider what you might do differently so that you are living in a way that makes you proud of the legacy you are leaving.

I think most of us would like to leave a mark on the world. We just don’t typically take the time to really reflect and think about what that mark could be.

I say, there is no better time than the present to give it some thought!

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter  @mduesterhoft or connect via email at