What are values?
How can I better fulfill them?

Scientific Aspects of Values:

Our system of values, which gets established in our early years, stimulates emotions that evaluate every aspect of conscious and unconscious experience from the mundane to the noble-including body temperature, one's sense of self, social interactions and our dreams in life.

The heart of our system of valuing is located in a deep, older part of every human brain in an area in and around what is called the locus coeruleus. According to Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, Gerald Edelman, in this part of the brain “neural value systems” engage in “signaling to neurons and synapses all over the brain . . . producing a sudden burst of firing whenever something important or salient occurs.” The neurons in this area of the brain “give rise to a vast meshwork of axons that blanket the cortex, hippocampus, basal ganglia, cerebellum, and spinal cord, potentially influencing transmission of billions of synapses over all levels of the central nervous system.” Edelman goes on to say that “Value and emotions, pleasant and unpleasant, are obviously coupled and are central to conscious experience.” (See A Universe of Consciousness, p. 88-91.)

We experience our complex system of values consciously as a wide range of feelings that signal us as to what is important and desired, and what is unimportant and not desired.

Practical Definition of Values:

Our values are experienced as feelings of what is important to us. Besides that wonderful feeling of being trusted, or trusting; being respected, or respecting; being loved, or loving; there are other aspects of values.

Values, when considered as a system, are the inner compass that determines our goals, forms our ethics, and ideally, guides our behavior. Values can be fulfilled, and this is happening constantly. When others treat you with respect, you feel respected. When you respect others, you may experience that sense of respect in different ways. There may be images and words, past and present, related to the experience of respect -- both respecting and being respected. The images and words that relate to respect will take the form of stories or scenes from actual or desired events. Recalling or telling stories of when important values were fulfilled is a good way to explore values, both yours and those of others.

Groups of people who gather to form work organizations or do projects will develop a set of values, however conscious and explicit or unconscious and implicit they may be.

Values of course, besides being fulfilled, can also be contradicted or violated. When we are treated with disrespect, our value of respect within us is violated, then we will feel the pain of that violation of our values. Whether they are big or small, frequent or infrequent, our values violations will happen in the many roles we play in our life. It may be we are sometimes not respected as a worker, not served with quality as a customer, or not loved as a family member.

How to be a Values-Based Leader:

To lead the way as a values-based leader as situations arise means doing effective leadership behaviors that are consistent with your values. That means to activate and express your values in healthy ways. Every person has timeless values that they can bring out from within and express in healthy ways.

When our values are fulfilled, like is represented in the top part of the VBL Flow Chart, it is relatively easy to behave in ways that project and radiate the positive warm glow of our values.

When we encounter challenging situations, more preparation is required to understand the person or people, the situation, and to rehearse the behaviors we can use to fulfill values, given our role.

When our values are not fulfilled, but are violated instead, there are other processes that are needed to, first, prevent our self from doing harm and then preparing to lead the way to positive, value-based results.

As you explore various aspects of the VBL Flow Chart, you may find ways to do this more effectively. That is the purpose of the chart -- to help you bring out your best thinking and behavior to help to fulfill values.

To go back to the VBL Flow Chart, close this window