We all have our core values – those notions of what’s right or wrong, guiding us throughout our lives and daily responsibilities. However, much of growing up and life even beyond that is filled with making moral decisions and discovering and rediscovering who we are and what we value in this life.
Let’s face it: that’s not always an easy task to conquer. There are many things that influence and alter our core values, so it can sometimes be a little confusing and difficult to figure out.
No need to worry – we’re here to help. As you navigate this life, it’s okay to seek answers and help from outside sources. We intend to be one of those sources as we go through what it means to truly have core values, and what those values look like.
What is a Core Value?
Core values are described as “fundamental beliefs of a person or organization.” Sure – it’s easy to read that definition from the dictionary; you could have done that on your own time. But what exactly does that really mean for your life?
Your core values are what steer you in this life. They help you to understand what you view as right and wrong, and they are the driving force for all of the decisions that you make.
Core values are used both in our personal lives and in the professional world. While an individual defines their own values according to their preferences and what they feel is morally right or wrong, a company will do the same thing. Businesses determine their core values based on what will fulfill their goals without overstepping their leaders’ moral compasses.
Today, we are going to discuss both personal and corporate core values at length – along with things like team core values and family core values. It’s important to focus on the details in this area because your values will truly showcase who you are – whether it be as an individual or a group of people.
Why Define Core Values
Some of you may be reading this with the mindset that there’s really no valid reason to define your core values. After all, if you don’t define these values, then you don’t have to live up to them.
While this is technically true, it’s not a very respectable or positive way to live your life. However, if you choose to live value- and moral-free, that’s your personal choice, and you probably won’t be interested in reading any further; though, we do encourage you to stick with us!
For those of you who want to define your values but aren’t sure why, by all means, read on! There are many positive things that can come from the simple act of establishing your core values and playing them out in all areas of your life.
Core Values Distinguish You from Others
In this world, it can be tough – especially for young people – to be okay with standing out from the crowd and being different. Peer pressure is a real thing, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not just for the teenage population.
However, standing out can be a really great thing in terms of your values. Being different doesn’t mean being weird or bad. It just means different, and that can be a really awesome attribute.
When you define your core values, you and those around you know what you stand for. In most cases, this is helpful because people already know what you’re about. For example, if your co-workers already know that you value friendly and non-offensive language, then they will know to respect that and not curse around you.
In the business world, defining your core values can be profitable and beneficial. On the individual level, if you value hard work and dedication, then your boss is likely to know that about you, and it can help to further your career.
For that matter, your core values are crucial when you’re applying for jobs and going on interviews. Many employers love to hire people who share the same values because they know that you will fit into their teams and further their company goals. Defining your core values could mean the difference between getting the job and missing out on an opportunity.
On the corporate level, setting core values lets your audience and other businesses know what you stand for. Think about all the companies who advertise that they do not test their products on animals. They have set a standard not only for themselves but for other companies. Those with the same values as them will appreciate their efforts and will be more likely to buy their products than a company who does not share this value.
Your Core Values Influence Others
I grew up with the notion that someone is always watching – not in a creepy, stalker kind of way, but in a way that means your words and actions matter. When you define your core values, you have the opportunity to influence anyone and everyone you come into contact with.
While you may think that no one cares about the choices you make – okay, maybe mom and dad care – you are sorely mistaken. People appreciate gestures, small and large alike. They notice what you do, and your actions provoke thought and domino into other actions.
Think about that scene from your favorite teen movie. There’s always someone who is brave enough to challenge the status quo, make a different choice, and stand up for what they believe in. While everyone is laughing at the kid getting bullied, the hero goes against the crowd and defends him. This is what having core values can look like.
While your values may not always look this extreme, setting a moral compass for yourself can define your actions and lead to the betterment of others.
Maybe one of your core values is kindness and consideration. Having this value set in your mind causes you to do little things like pick up a piece of trash that someone dropped on the ground or hold the door for the person behind you at the coffee shop.
These little actions may seem insignificant, but even the smallest drop of water can make a wave. Let others benefit from your values by setting them and sticking to them.
Core Values Shape Who You Are
Many people label their teen year as the years of figuring stuff out and discovering who you are. But if we’re honest, that’s really how our entire life goes. It’s very rare to meet someone who knows exactly who they are, what they want, and what’s important to them. Many of us are still seeking and searching, wondering if we’ll ever be sure.
However, nailing down your core values can help get you there.
As we mentioned earlier, your values are what drive your decisions and actions – and what is life if not a series of choices and consequences?
Because of your values, you get a clearer picture of who you are as a person. Do you value kindness? What about time? Or is money important to you? The answer to these questions shape who you are as an individual, shedding light on your personality and core self.
Those who do not know who they are or what they want from this life are generally aimless, confused, and scared of the future. Those who know who they are and what they value can be happy and secure, knowing that they can make all the right choices by tapping into that core.
Core Value Examples
In light of getting straight to the point here, take a look through this list of core value examples that can be applied in a general sense to all areas of life:
- Sense of Humor
- Environmental Preservation
- Faith and Religion
As you can see, the list goes on and on. Sometimes it takes seeing a list like this to inspire thought and action. On our own, it can be difficult to come up with potential values to add to our personal systems, but a list like this gives you ideas and options – and you can even expand upon them.
Personal values are the most common core values that we can think of. Each and every one of us has a moral compass that allows us to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. The difficulty that comes into play here is figuring out how we feel about certain topics and our views on various issues.
When you define your personal values, it’s easier to form your opinions and make your own decisions. Many of us start off with the values of our parents as we are raised, but as we grow older, we can alter those views and shape them into a personal belief system.
The following are some very common core values that people take on in their personal life:
- Faith and the belief in a god or a religious institution
- Lack of faith or belief in a higher power
- The idea of good, kindness, and compassion
- Family as an important part of life
- Intentional or quality time spent with others
- Honest and integrity – the idea that trust must be earned
- The importance of life as a whole and maintaining it
- A love of the environment and sustaining the planet
- Dedication to science and the evolution of technology
- Maintaining healthy work, social, and independence balance
- Establishing financial security and responsibility
- Love and affection
- Effective communication
The above options showcase different views on life and how life should be lived, from a personal perspective. It’s possible that you already hold a few or even several of these values and you didn’t even realize they were a part of your core values. It’s also possible that you don’t hold any of these to be your truth. At the very least, this list can help you eliminate the things you don’t personally find value in.
On the flip side, there are core values that people hold that can be detrimental to yourself and others. We’ll call these negative values, as they pose more risks than benefits and can greatly affect your life attitude and overall emotional health.
- The belief that the world is a bad, dark place where there is no hope
- Life is meaningless
- You have no power to make any kind of productive change, and your fate is your fate regardless of what you do
- You are undeserving of love, kindness, relationships, or any good things
- Every person is untrustworthy and unkind
- There’s no reason to try – ever
Most of us can look at this list and see the obvious: that no one should think this way. However, there are some people who do. Whether these values have been formed out of poor living situations or horrific life events that we can’t understand, it’s important to know that our values don’t have to look like this. It’s time to make a change.
Many family units operate on the idea of family values. These values are typically set by the parents, who raise their children in a way that reflect their values. You may have grown up knowing various families who, as a team, value certain things together.
Some of you may have been a part of a family with a strong value system that played a big role in your development and growing up. Perhaps you still hold true to those values, and maybe you’ve grown to tweak or change some of them.
Maybe the time has even come for you and your spouse to define your own family values. One of the best ways to do this is to know your options. The second thing to do is draw from your personal value and life experiences.
Here are some common family core values.
While independence is certainly a good trait to have, within the family structure, interdependence can be vitally important to some units. Many families value the idea of being able to depend on one another.
As family members, you should have a sense of trust for one another as well as a sense of reliability for each other. Interdependence allows children to grow up in a well-rounded home, as opposed to homes that force individuals to do everything by themselves.
Of course, some families may value independence over interdependence and can find the idea of living for one’s self and making it on their own very important. Other families like a balance of the two.
It can be a scary world out there, especially when it comes to raising children. A great family value to incorporate is the idea of individual strength and resiliency. We’re not talking about being a cold, closed-off person, but rather the promotion of the idea that you can overcome obstacles and stand back up on your own two feet.
Not only does this idea instill confidence in children, but it does so also in parents as they send their kids off into the world. When families focus on this idea of resiliency, kids can grow into adults who know how to handle disappoints, show empathy, and take intuitive steps forward after a failure.
Self-respect is so important, and the idea of this concept starts within the family. Not only do families tend to portray an environment of respect for others in general, but they can also work towards promoting self-respect in each individual.
Self-respect is a family value that easily transitions into a personal value. If you’re raised in at atmosphere that allows you to respect yourself, you learn that it’s okay to say no, to take care of yourself and your needs first, and establish healthy and safe personal boundaries.
Families all want the same thing for their kid: a successful life – whatever that may look like. The best way to ensure this future for them is to instill the value of hard work and a strong work ethic. Many parents want their children to know that you only get what you work for.
Hard work as a core value touches every area of life, from relationships to the workplace. Hard work in school furthers your education and gets you good grades, and hard work in your household chores gets things done the right way.
Without hard work, some family members can become reliant on other people with the attitude that the world owes them everything. This is a really good value to implement into your family life.
Honesty is a huge value that’s worthwhile in family life, your work life, friendships, relationships, and even with yourself. Being a trustworthy, reliable person is something that many people find admirable.
When you remain honest, no one has reason to doubt you. Dishonesty has to potential to bring your world crashing down in just one instant, and it can take years to rebuild that trust. And sometimes when you break trust, it becomes impossible to bring it back.
Along with honesty comes integrity. Integrity displays your ability to stand by your commitments and the things you say. It lets people know that they can count on you and come to you, and it’s an excellent trait to hold throughout your life.
Depending on your family’s background, you may consider faith to be one of your core values. Some families have very strong faith in God and a commitment to spiritual or religious practice. It’s not uncommon for parents to pass down their belief systems to their children.
In fact, many religious beliefs hold their own set of core values – many of which we have already talked about. Christian households, for example, tend to really push matters of honesty, kindness, generosity, and commitment.
Religious standards tend to be the strongest and most strict of all standards. This isn’t always the case, but families with religious values are generally more inclined to keep to them and hold fast to what they believe in, while worldly values can be a little laxer.
And, like with other values, some children grow up and rethink their faith and spirituality, often branching off from their parents’ beliefs and defining their own.
Much like interdependence, families often expect their members to have a sense of loyalty. Being loyal means sticking together through all scenarios. When it comes to choosing sides, there are rare instances when a family member should go against another family member.
Of course, there are always exceptions to this statement, but in general, family loyalty is a super important value to have in the household. You should be able to depend on each other, stick up for each other, and support each other through everything without turning against one another.
The above list is full of very serious commitment and ideals, but some family core values are a bit more playful and fun.
As I was growing up, one of my family’s core values was a commitment to a certain city’s sports teams. No one strayed from that city, and we all stuck together on gameday rooting for the same players. We were known for our fan loyalty in our family – so much so that we considered it one of our core values.
Fun values can play out in a number of ways, but it’s always good to recognize them to keep things lighthearted and not always so intense. Your family will appreciate the ability to bond over things that excite them and make them laugh, so consider incorporating some fun values like these:
- Sports teams
- Lighthearted sibling rivalries
- Game nights
- Sarcasm and a sense of humor
These are just to name a few, but even adding one of these to your regular list of values can make a big impact on the smiles in your household.
Similar to the values that come within families, teams also have a set of core values. If you’ve ever been on a team, you know that the coach or captains tend to set the tone for how their team should act and what they are playing for.
In some cases, these values can become skewed by the need to win and succeed. Coaches can become relentless in their path towards victory, while individual players can step on the teammates in order to be the best and most recognized.
Many of us know from life experiences that when a team comes together with the same goals and values, they tend to play better. Even if they don’t win, they maintain a strong, positive reputation and end up happier in the long run.
Some important team values are:
- Work together
- Grow and learn as a whole
- Maintain integrity
- Keep a positive attitude and don’t be a sore loser
- Keep your ego in check
- Always strive to get better
- Help each other out
- Take responsibility for your actions
- Talk it out
- Take criticism to heart
A team can only benefit from sharing its values. One that doesn’t will quickly find itself in failure and loss.
Finally, corporate values are used within a company or organization to make sure everyone is on the same page with what the company stands for. We mentioned a strong example of this earlier with companies who advertise their products as “cruelty-free,” meaning they don’t test on animals.
Core values within a company not only form a sense of camaraderie among CEOs, employees, and their audiences, but they also give the organization a true sense of direction. Without corporate values, a company can do anything and make any decision as a wildcard.
Here are some strong corporate values that a company can implement:
- Commitment to environmental preservation
- Utilizing company resources to do good for the whole
- Dedication to innovation, excellence, and continuous improvement
- Commitment to a charity or cause, like homelessness or single mothers
- Community involvement
- Protection of animal rights
- Honesty, integrity, and openness with the public
- Stance for promoting diversity within the workplace
- Commitment to bettering education of future generations
As you can see, there are several noble values that a company can dedicate itself to starting at the very top and trickling down to every individual that they hire. Whatever is at a company’s core is what the world will see in it.
Core values have a way of shaping a person, a family, a team, and a corporation. When you take the time to figure out what’s important to you or your group, you can clearly define yourself and influence the world around you.
Core values are not just for show. They are truly transformative and bolster many benefits for all. Through all areas of your life, you can display what’s important to you and make decisions based on those truths, living out a life that’s honest with yourself and those around you.