‘Values’ are often promoted within high performance environments, whether it be a banner in a changing room or a neatly styled image on a website. Clear, considered values are at the heart of every highly successful team and company. When I see an image like the one above, I think about how some efforts to use values are misguided. On top of this, I believe we are vastly underutilising the ability of these terms to enhance performance.
Values often appear with no discussion between those they are directed to, buzz words are used that do not engage recipients and they are rarely promoted beyond these banners or images. This short blog will aim to highlight their benefit in enhancing performance and how you can practically bring them into your sport or work lives.
The Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment approach (an approach within the PhD I am completing) operationalises values to make behaviour changes that will lead to a more fulfilling life, and ultimately enhance performance. The first step in this process of connecting with your values, is identifying them.
What are my values and what do they mean?
Values have been defined as one's judgement of what is important in life… so what is important to you? To identify your values, complete the following exercise.
Imagine a team mate or co-worker is about to make a speech about you at an awards dinner, what would you want them to say? Spend a minute thinking about this.
Some values that may emerge are being a good teammate/co-worker, hard-working, professional, committed etc. These adjectives sound great, and they are certainly words that most of us would like to be associated with, but what does this mean in our daily lives?
Throughout our day we are faced with many decisions, whether it’s to get up early and go to the gym, to skip sets and reps when we are in the gym or look at social media while we are working. In these moments, and in these contexts, we are presented with two behavioural roads. One that takes us towards our values and one that takes us away.
If we take the value of ‘Honesty’ from Louisville football example above (because the majority of the others are not values and are frankly ridiculous), is a player in this team moving towards the value of honesty if he skips sets in the gym? If he slacks off in training and eats poorly, that’s an away move from this value of honesty, he is not being honest with himself or the team in an environment where he is challenged to get better every day.
How many towards moves are you making?
A question we should answer and reflect upon daily. After the initial exercise, you should now have an idea of your own values.
Take time now and begin to think about your behaviours in the last few days and if you are acting in the service of these values, are you moving towards them? Do you value being a good friend? Why haven’t you spoken to your close friends in weeks, it only takes a few minutes. Do you value hard work? Why did you watch a full season of Peaky Blinders last night instead of working on those tasks on your to do list?
The more towards moves (value driven behaviours) you can make, the more successful you will be. Along this road that brings you closer to values, you will achieve your goals along the way. Work related KPI’s, body image goals, or sporting performance goals, these will be achieved through acting on your values.
3 Tips for Using Values in your team/company.
1. Involve the team
Have a group discussion with team mates and co/workers about what is important to you and what is important for you to be successful. Then agree on it. After this, employ someone with a trendy haircut to make them into a neat image and make it visible within your environment.
2. Use the lingo
These adjectives should become part of your daily language within your work or sporting lives. They should be constantly referenced in team meetings, pre and post training. The internal and external dialogue should go something like this “Let’s make towards moves today”, “was not making that phone call an away move?”, “is checking social media at work an away move?”, “is avoiding this email consistent with my values?”.
3. Reflect on them
Set aside time in your work calendar that will allow you to reflect on these values and how you are doing in relation to them. At the initial team meeting you all agreed that this collection of words is what is important to you, so it’s important to notice when you are moving away from them? Through this reflective process you will become more self-aware, more aware of the moment to moment decisions you are making and if they are a towards or away move.
Why do we sometimes move away from our values and what can I do about it?
This is the topic of our next blog! In it, we will uncover some of the internal rules we use, along with the challenging thoughts that take us away from our values. Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram pages for more information.