I didn’t always understand what it meant to live in accordance to your values. In fact, I didn’t even know this really existed in the practical sense. But once I recognized that my work was not aligned with what was most important to me, I couldn’t un-see it. I know what you are thinking, another coach going on about values again. Hear me out.
I can still summon up what it felt like to be so far out of alignment with what really mattered to me. I have had days (read: weeks…months?) where the discomfort would slowly, steadily rise every Sunday afternoon leading into the work week. I have driven to work feeling a cocktail of dread and anxiousness that would lead to a few deep breaths working up the strength to walk through the doors. I have experienced meetings where I wanted to crawl out of my skin, feeling so uncomfortable that I couldn’t even find the words to express my disagreement. I had been successful in my work, so why did I feel this way?
If you have ever felt this discomfort (all humans have), I want you to take a fresh, non-judgmental look at what you value. Get really clear on the stuff that matters to you. And then take a second look at the times in your history when you felt the discord, the misalignment that I am describing. Which of your values were you not honoring during that time?
In an exercise of example and transparency, I want to share with you here the stuff that matters to me along with an instance when I was misaligned to each value.
I prefer things to be real, plain and simple. For at least a year, I was dressing really boring for work. For some reason, I felt the need to try and look older, more professional, more important. I am all in support of dressing well for work, I just could have done it without stuffing my personality in a box. If it was socially acceptable in general, I would probably dress more like this.
I can best describe this value for me as the results need to be outstanding, but more importantly, the manner in which they were accomplished must also be exceptional. I had one boss who definitely had the right goals, but the manner in which he wanted me to do the work, how he communicated and the way people were treated were 100% not how I would choose to do it. As a result, I felt uncomfortable and devalued.
I run my own company, and it is awesome. And you know, some days are hard. I had to ask myself, what could possibly be wrong with this scenario? I am doing what I love, designing my work and life, why do I feel some discord on some days? The reality is that as my company continues to grow, I have sometimes felt that I “should” be doing even more. Helping more people, making an impact on more teams, leaders, and lives. The only value that is not being fully honored is my need to contribute on a grand scale.
Once you recognize that feeling of discord and misalignment, you can ask yourself in the moment, “What value(s) am I not aligned with right now?” If you can master the art of asking this question and being able to answer honestly, you have unlocked the power to do something about it. And as you course correct, you will find your way back to center and the discomfort will fade. When you know what really matters to you, you can choose to swim in it. Because you can’t un-see it, right?
About the author:
Katie Rasoul is the Chief Awesome Officer for Team Awesome, a leadership coaching and culture consulting firm. Find out more by visiting www.teamawesomecoaching.com or sign up for our mailing list for awesomeness coming straight to your inbox. Follow Team Awesome on Facebook and Twitter.