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Whirling Chief

A Value… A Living Thing…


I think by now many of us realize values play a key role in creating and maintaining fulfilment and satisfaction in our experiences.

Although motivation, values and emotions have been studied by philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists for decades now; there’s still some confusion around what a value is/not… and how to define it… As a result, we find many leadership values are not making their way into people’s hearts and many organizational values await sitting hang up on some wall not supporting the culture an organization may aspire to create.

A ‘value’ is a concept that describes the beliefs of an individual or a culture. These are things we believe are important in the way we want our experiences to come to life and in the way we choose to take part. They help us determine our priorities, serve as a primary tool for grounding our decision making, and when things get muddy, they play an active role in reconnecting us to our true being.

A set of values may certainly be placed into the notion of a value system. This is how we typically live our leadership values inside an culture. Generally, values are considered to be subjective and expected to vary across people and cultures. There is no right or wrong to values. In other words, we don’t get to judge anyone or any culture on their chosen values. Values are also expected to evolve from circumstances with the external world and tend to change over time. Types of values could include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (political, religious) values, social values, and aesthetic values, etc.


There is a difference between an emotion and a value, this is where we often get stuck. It is in action. 

Without an action, a value (any value) becomes just an aspiration rather than a way of being. 

Every time we create a choice and take a decision, we either feed into a value or take away from it.

Let’s take courage as an example.

We could define courage as our willingness to be vulnerable against uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. Yet, when we think of courage or courageous leaders, we often imagine them being fearless. This is absolutely untrue. All of us, without an exception experience fear. Even those people we look up to. If you don’t believe this, please take the time to listen to some interviews of world-known musicians, athletes and read a few biographies of our world leaders. We all experience fear. The difference is courageous leaders are making a choice to show the will, they are willing to act despite their fear.

There are many emotions we find to be unconditional and life-giving…

Trust. Love. Joy. Gratitude. Awe. Hope. 

All require boundaries and all have consequences and yet, they are bountiful.

The power of taking an emotion and turning it into a value is that you know it when you see them in action, you rarely need leadership books to concur to. 

Reach for what defines your being, soak yourself in the emotion, find your way to live and measure it, and allow yourself the opportunity to grow with it.

You’ll see how over time it’ll become a light in guiding you first and in time, many others. 


  • 27 March 2018

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