We have all heard about the essential nature of “clarified values” with regard to the creation of a written a philosophy statement.
But what are “values”?
plural noun: values
Values will be defined here as, “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.”
Synonyms: principles, ethics, moral code, morals, standards, code of behavior
From this definition, you can easily see why values are the building blocks of our Philosophy- the way we choose to live our life. By clarifying our values, we are simply bringing them to our conscious attention and then analyzing them.
But we need to go deeper than superficial analysis, we need to discern which values are are most valuable- which ones are “core” to our belief system, and therefore our very Being.
To do this, let’s review the different kinds of values which we all hold, and from there – then “clarify” which ones are “Core”.
Values which are above all others. Typically, they are represented by only a handful, and of those handful, there is one which is PRIMARY. Some examples are God, Family, Love, and Personal Growth, and Sharing.
Values which we pick up from our experiences within our family, our church, or the general culture around us. Introjected values tend to be values around which we are continuously immersed, and which are consistent with the behavior of our peer group. The key distinction here, is that Introjected Values tend to be accepted at face value, and therefore left unexamined. Consequently, they are a mixed bag of Core Values and other values.
Values which experience broad cross-cultural acceptance, such as the value of peace, the value of human life, the value of human dignity, the value of beauty, of acceptance, of happiness, freedom, knowledge, etc. Again, some Universal Values may also be “Core” to how you want to live your life.
Values one needs to secure and “own” before other “higher” values can be achieved or even pursued. Abe Maslow famously differentiated these values in his Triangle. Some examples are security, freedom from hunger, shelter, Justice, basic education, and financial strength. Some of these values may be “Core” as well, particularly as you ascend Maslow’s hierarchy.
Values we repeatedly leverage to achieve our goals, aims, and intentions. These are values which function as guiding principles and therefore help us discern between right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, helpful and unhelpful. They represent our current level of cultural wisdom in action, and are the central elements of a Mission Statement or Statement of Purpose. A Mission Statement should therefore be a reflection of our Core Values.
So, you can see that we need to spend time becoming more aware of our highest values, then rank them as best as possible – understanding that this ranking can change over time – AND THEN writing a Philosophy Statement. Mission Statements are developed FROM Philosophy Statements, and are in affect our Core Values put into action.
Paul A. Henny, DDS
Thought Experiments LLC, © 2018
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