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  • Values (Weekly blog, 8 April 2018)

    Posted on April 10, 2018
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    Values have been on my mind this week.  I’ve been on holiday, but what better time to think about things that really matter?  And skiing is really very good for thinking.   Like running, the rhythm and privacy provide space for reflection.   In addition, the beautiful landscapes drenched in spring sunshine lift the soul and make anything seem possible.

    Subconscious values

    During my last coaching session, we worked on values.  These are the ideals that underpin who you are and what you bring.  My Myers-Briggs profile (as mentioned in a previous blog) showed that values are very important to my decision making.  However, and I’m somewhat embarrassed by this, I’ve never really articulated or owned those values.

    The values that first emerged from the session felt a reasonable fit.   But my coach challenged me to write a personal statement about each one.  To consider exactly what they meant to me in my life.   And this has thrown up some alternatives over the past week.   Furthermore, I am a reflector so just having time to delve a little deeper is leading me to a different list of values.  One I feel more confident of; to the extent that I’m going to share them here!

    Who am I and what do I bring?

    My number one value is making a difference.   For me in my life this means contributing to the world, not just consuming it.   It’s about making an effort and being present.  It’s about service and being someone people can rely on.   Helping make things better for other people but not necessarily shouting about it.

    Next is humanity. For me, this is an awareness of other people in the world, and doing what I can to understand, help and support them.  Even if sometimes that’s comradeship and empathy rather than tangible action.  It’s also about treating everyone with the same respect, kindness, honesty and generosity. There’s something here about balance, harmony and tolerance too, although I wonder whether they need a separate value – ?

    My third value is growth.  For me in my life this means learning new things, exploring new places and experimenting with new ideas.  Building habits that lead to continual improvement.   It’s also about sharing my knowledge and experience, like my voluntary French-teaching.  In a work context it’s about creating the conditions for others to grow, both individuals and organisations.

    Another late runner is resourcefulness.   For me in my life resourcefulness is making the most of what you have.  It’s about finding creative, inexpensive solutions and not wasting anything.  Saving things ‘just in case’ and finding new uses for them in the future.  ‘Homemade not shop-bought’ is something of a family mantra.

    “But it’s all an adventure that comes with a breathtaking view” (Tightrope, Greatest Showman Soundtrack). Image is of Lac d’Allos from Mont Pelat by Helac at French Wikipedia.

    The Desert Island Discs of values

    There is a radio programme here in the UK where people are asked to select their eight favourite records to take with them to a desert island.   Of course, it’s a device to talk about their lives but the castaways do find it hard to choose just eight.

    Well, I’m limited to five values and there are a few vying for the last spot.  This is currently filled by belonging.   I may well change it but for now, belonging for me in my life is feeling part of something.  That could be a group of friends, a club, my family, home, the National Trust movement.   It’s about making people feel like they belong – comfortable and welcome, part of the team.  There’s also something here about language learning – which I’ve been doing all my life.  That desire to fit in, to feel like a local.  And home.  That’s a strong pull too.

    As I leave my home in the mountains and head home to Hampshire, that’s what belonging is about.   Having your place in the world.   As a teenager I hated where I lived and wanted to get away as soon as I could.   I learned languages and joined the Foreign Office so that I could travel the world.  But my family had lived thereabouts for over a century and you can’t argue with the Victorians.  I soon came back.  Whether it was the bucolic beauty of the place or the fact that my parents had made it home for forty years or that my great grandfather had farmed the land there, I can’t say.   In September, my son will go to the same school his great grandmother attended and that fills me with a comforting sense of belonging and rootedness.

    So, I think I’ve probably squeezed ten values in here!   But it’s a start.   The next job will be fine-tuning and prioritising …

    Thanks for reading!

    Monty with a picture of his great great grandfather


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