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Whenever I teach on values, I always start by encouraging students to make a list. Try on a few values for size and see how they fit within your life. Typically, the list will change, and our job is to stay fluid and nimble when it feels like the list needs to change.
Often, we’ll try on the values for a bit and then say, “Oh, interesting. I thought this was my value. But I kind of think this other thing is popping up that feels more resonant, feels more aligned, feels more like me.” And that is a-okay! It might feel strange to change your values list. Just know that your intuition guiding you towards the correct values is a sign you’re doing it right.
Knowing our values is an essential first step. Embodying them, though, is about aligning ourselves with our values. We need to bridge the divide between who we are in this moment and who we want to become.
When we want to bridge the divide, to shapeshift ourselves, to jump and leap to the other side, we have to figure out what we do in that divide. How do we let the moments of our lives be a reflection of what matters most to us?
This is what we work on for a full year in the Raise Your Hand Say Yes Inner Circle. I can’t cover all the answers to this in one podcast episode, but here’s how you start:
You commit to imperfect and uncomfortable action.
You commit to action that is going to feel so, so small. Each step will be challenging and tiny, and it might feel like you’re not moving at all.
Even when it feels like each step requires so much energy and you aren’t moving forward, you have to remember that momentum happens over time.
Momentum requires time and velocity, which is forward motion. So can you get yourself moving? Can you give yourself time and trust that the momentum will come?
During the pandemic, I’ve been trying to get into the habit of moving. Once I sit down and start my day, it’s tough for me to get back up. So I’ve pulled out my old Fitbit, dusted it off, and set a goal of 10,000 steps a day. And I’ve been pretty consistent!
I’m not aiming for 100% perfection, but I am feeling better. I’ve been sleeping better, and I’m finding myself wanting to walk, especially when I haven’t walked until late in the afternoon. I’ll start to get jittery around four or five o’clock if I haven’t gotten in my steps.
Today I was on my walk, and the strangest thing happened: I found myself wanting to run.
It goes to show that if we keep taking steps, those steps might take us somewhere surprising. Showing up to yourself and listening to what you need will open the door to knowing more about what you need and want.
So often, we think that we have to be clear on what we want before we start. But that is backwards, y’all! You just need to be willing to take an imperfect, uncomfortable step in faith that you will figure it out.
That will lead you somewhere, even if it’s small. That’s what I’m asking of you. 100% understanding of everything you need to know is an impossible ask—do not demand it of yourself.
My top three values are integrity, faith, and truth. And you might be thinking, “those have nothing to do with getting 10,000 steps every day, Tiffany.” But they do!
Getting my 10,000 steps embodies my values. It’s integrity to say, “this is something that I want for myself. I am going to follow through on it.”
Taking that walk requires faith. I have to trust that leaving my work for an hour or two is for the better. I have to have faith that I can do it, that I can take that time, that it’s worth it for me.
And I am living in truth by saying, “I cannot sit in this chair anymore. This is not good for me.” There is also a truth in allowing myself to say to people around me, “I can take care of that when I get back from my walk. You’re going to have to wait because this thing that I need from myself is as important—if not more important—because I can’t show up to anybody else if I’m not showing up to myself.”
This is a hard truth: when you aren’t embodying your values, someone else’s values are being honored in your life.
I want you to commit to using your values as your compass. Even when everyone else around you seems to be using other socially-accepted compasses for their lives. You will always be living somebody’s values, so make sure that they are your own.
There is no list of “ideal values.” If your top three values are not integrity, faith, and truth, that is fantastic! I don’t want you to live my values; I want you to live yours.
And here is my promise and my guarantee and my apology: you may never be perfect at this. You might spend the rest of your life in that divide between where you are and where you want to be.
But honestly, so what? Are you willing to step into it? Because the answer to getting to where you want to be is not to stay where you don’t want to be.
When you’re figuring out how to embody your values, it’s easy to say, “this isn’t working, and everything is garbage.”
What haven’t you tried?
Everyone who I ask this question has an answer. There’s always something that we think might work, but we don’t want to try for whatever reason. Maybe you’ll say you don’t think it’s right. But everything can be right! Or not right. There are no guarantees.
Now, this doesn’t mean to dive headfirst into something wrong. I can see people now being like, “Yeah, so if I’m with somebody in a relationship, and it’s not working, are you telling me to marry that person?”
Nope. I’m saying if you are in a relationship with somebody and you want to get married, and you know that the person you are in a relationship with is not the person that you want to marry…what are you doing in that relationship? What if you broke up with that person and looked for someone you do want to marry? Try that.
Staying with the thing
that you know isn’t working will not get you to the thing that feels like working.
Think about it like this: when you plant a seed in the ground, you don’t stand up, dust the dirt off your knees, and then immediately look up and beat yourself up for there not being any fruit yet.
We can’t demand perfection or immediate results from ourselves, just like we can’t make the seed immediately grow.
As you start to take imperfect, uncomfortable action towards embodying your values, you might feel that it isn’t working. Each of the Agency Archetypes has a specific reaction to this work.
Go-Getters will start the work of crossing the divide with the small, imperfect steps and say, “this isn’t happening fast enough!” They begin to think there might be a different divide that’s easier to cross. I promise there isn’t. Just keep going for that momentum.
Crowd Pleasers will think, “nobody wants to be in my divide. Maybe this is the wrong divide?” Tap into your intuition. Ground yourself in your values, not anyone else’s.
Students will search high and low for a map. Or a book. Or a course. Or someone who can give them directions. And they’ll say, “If I start, and I stumble, or I skinned my knee, or I need to take a break, or I need to double back…does that mean I’m not doing it? Does that mean I’m not going to get a good grade?” Spoiler alert, the grade is your life! How do you feel when you go to bed at night? That’s the grade.
Caretakers want this so badly. And yet, they are so afraid the crossing that divide means that they’re leaving people behind. Setting out on this quest implies that we will have to demand some of our energy, attention, time, focus, and money back for ourselves. I promise, there’s enough energy, there’s enough attention, there is enough of it to go around. Not only that but by you crossing that divide, it’s actually going to allow you to show up more in service, not less. It is not selfish to do this work.
Rebels are already halfway through the divide and saying, “Don’t worry, I got this!” But are you lonely? Could you use a hand? Maybe there’s already a path, and you’re just cutting down the trees? Perhaps there are some things in this episode that you initially dismissed as not for you but that were precisely for you.
I hope this helps you as you start to embody your values and get from who you are to who you want to become. If you want to learn your agency archetype, be sure to take the free Agency Archetypes quiz. And if you think spending a year diving deeper into your values and how to embrace them, be sure to pop your name on the waitlist for the Raise Your Hand Say Yes Inner Circle.
Join the waitlist for the Raise Your Hand Say Yes Inner Circle
What I said:
“When it comes to embodying values, our job is to stay really fluid, nimble, and open.”
“If we keep taking steps, those steps might take us somewhere surprising.”
“If you are not embodying your own values, you’re embodying somebody else’s.”
“Commit to using your values as your compass even if everyone else seems to be loving some totally-jacked-but-socially-acceptable-enough compass to guide their lives.”
“The answer to getting to where you want to be is not to stay where you don’t want to be.”
06:11 – How to get started with a values list
08:16 – Commit to imperfect and uncomfortable action
12:47 – How small steps can be a game-changer for you
18:17 – Values as a compass
24:20 – Crossing the divide between where you are and where you want to be AND how to approach this considering your Agency Archetype
30:08 – Destruction as an unbuilding
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