Reflections of Value

A friend asked to pick my brain. “If you were to design the perfect financial advice business, what offerings would it include that are not prevalent today?”

I don’t think he knew I had a soapbox for this topic. I climbed right on.

I would build a personal coaching business. It would serve an individual or their family. It would help the individual identify what is truly most important to him.

The client would be able to cite his key values and his personal mission statement in his sleep. They would be integrated in his everyday life.

He would be able to answer that simple, life-changing question that hardly anyone can answerWhat do you truly want?

I would help my client define this vision. We would set up action plans as to how his values and vision would show up in his everyday life.

Ongoing, I’d be like his trainer at the gym.

On some days he would love me—like when we’d talk through conflicts between his dream and his current life, and brainstorm creative solutions.

Other days he would hate me—like when I’d point out that one of his behaviors or activities was in conflict with his own vision.

He would be one member of a “like-minded” group, which I’d curate. The group members wouldn’t all have the same personal dream and values. But in understanding each person’s mission, they would continuously garner support and inspiration from each other.

Oh, and there would be a “wealth management” or “financial advisory” component to serving this individual or family. There would have to be. Money is a very important tool in serving our life goal.

I realize I am over-simplifying and skipping over a slew of details in describing this business.

But do you see the difference?

Financial advice isn’t the lead offering. But in this “life management” business, it is a critical component.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that my friend stood on a similar soapbox.

As we talked, we found we’d each recently stumbled upon a new favorite tool to help people identify their values—the key first step. His was in the form of a deck of cards, each card listing a different value. Mine was in the form of a list.

What Do I Value List

Click on the link above and do this very simple What Do I Value? exercise. Here’s how:

From the list of 100 values, choose your top 10. Then narrow to 5. Then 3. Then rank them.

Do the exercise quickly. Don’t overthink it. The activity is best done with a partner—your spouse, grown child, or friend.

Talk to your partner about your core value. Why did you choose it? How do your top values relate to each other? Share a story about where you exhibited your top value.

I learned of this tool from college essay coach Ethan Sawyer, and encouraged my niece to use it. Her word? Balance.

We explored what “balance” meant to her. She is gymnast. She is a mathematician. And she confided that she’s been struggling to enjoy her other top values—“family” and “friends”— given the many competing time commitments of a successful high school senior.

Her explorations from the values exercise ultimately became the topic of one of her college essays (see “What If Adults Applied to College?”)

Since then, everyone from my husband to in-laws to friends has embarked on the exercise. They’ve shared it with others.

I recently used the values list as an activity as part of a talk I gave to a professional women’s group. The room was so abuzz that I had a hard time ending the session.

Each of us needs support and inspiration from others who understand our mission. The first step is identifying our values. Then defining what it is we truly want. Then speaking that value and vision out loud.

Speaking it out loud makes it easy for others to hold us accountable. It changes how they see us. It changes the gifts they bring us.

My husband’s core value is “challenge.”

A week ago, he received an email from a friend, asking if he’d like to join in completing a Spartan race. It’s intense—8-10 miles with tough obstacles and rugged terrain.

A former active triathlete, I know that my husband has been struggling with getting motivated in his fitness.

“Did you reply to Steve’s email?” I asked.

I didn’t have to spell it out. He knows I know his core value word. This invitation screamed his name.

“I’ve already signed up,” he said. “I even invited a few others.”

It was the clearest reflection of his value.


Photo by Jodi Morris. Museum of Fine Arts Boston “Endlessly Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism.” 

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Jodi Morris Written by:

Venture Guide to High-Achieving Seekers. Success Coach. Venture Travel Curator. Impact Investor. Traveler. Writer. Global Connector. When we connect to others' stories it changes our own. Let's Venture!