wardell books

Personal Values


If your Personal Mission gives your life a destination, then your Personal Values are the rules of the road. They answer the question, “How will you live your life?” In conjunction with your Personal Mission, Your Personal Values act as a powerful decision-making tool because they clearly show where you “draw your line in the sand.” They show what is acceptable to you and what is not.

To understand what a personal value is, let’s imagine that you have gone to a bakery to buy a loaf of bread. There are two loaves on the shelf, and the baker tells you another will be ready in one hour. One of the two available loaves is plain white bread, but economically priced. The other is whole wheat, and twice the price. The third loaf in the oven is very healthy, organic, whole grain bread that is triple the price of the first loaf. It is your personal values that will inform, influence and generate your decision. Do you value economy and speed above all else? If so, you would likely happily pay for the first loaf and be on your way. Do you place a higher value on either the esthetics or taste of whole wheat bread, and would be willing to pay twice the price, but not so much higher value that you would wait an hour or come back for the third and most expensive loaf? These are subjective values, and there is no right answer. The purpose here is to illustrate that it's your internal personal values that guide and inform your decision-making process.

The following questions will help to lay the groundwork for the discovery of your Personal Values. You do not need to answer all of them but you should make notes on your thoughts as you read through them. Just write down whatever comes to mind.

1. What qualities or attributes do you admire or respect in others?

2. What qualities or attributes do you disapprove of in others?

3. What qualities or attributes do you wish to eliminate or change within yourself?

4. What are your best qualities or attributes?

5. What qualities or attributes do you wish to develop or improve within yourself?

6. What are your minimum expectations of others? Of yourself?

7. Where are your personal boundaries? Where do you draw the line with others? With yourself?

Your Personal Values define the qualities or standards of behaviour that are important to you. You may be influenced by your friends, your culture, your family, and so forth, but in the end, you and only you are responsible for your own behaviour.

You are about to write out your own personal value statement. The following are examples to help you get started.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

  • I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.

  • I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living, but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.

  • I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business, or personal affairs.

  • I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond; that character - not wealth or power or position - is of supreme worth.

  • I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.

Optimist's Club

  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

  • To think only the best, to work for only the best, and to expect the best.

  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Based on your answers to the previous questions, write your Personal Values.

You may use the words “To...” or “I believe,” to introduce each thought, or you may find it simpler to list your most important values along with their definitions. For example: Honesty - To be fair, just, and truthful in my dealings with others and to expect the same in return. Look for overlapping concepts, ideas, or values. Write these out and refine the language until it works for you.

If the act of writing down your values seems uncomfortably permanent, just remember that personal development is really a lifelong journey. There will always be more to learn about yourself and your place in the world, so think of this as a first draft. It might help the ink to flow a little more freely.