Our personal journey through life defines our values. We know what we like. We know what hurts us. We know what we are afraid of. We know what gives us inspiration. This knowledge of self begins to shape our life purpose. Our deep connection to our values is the most powerful motivator there is to propel us forward to take our leaps. Trying to take a leap without clearly knowing what our values are is akin to searching for buried treasure without the treasure map; we meander aimlessly in circles wondering where it is we are going.
Two of my values have always been freedom and independence. When I was a little girl, I’d never let my mom pick my clothes out for me. I insisted on making my own lunches and was doing my own laundry by the time I was in the 4th or 5th grade. I would ask my parents repeatedly if I could move into the shed in the back of our house so I could have my own home. It was as if I was born this way – always wanting to be free and independent. Weird, I know. These values drove me to devote my entire career to helping women take the leap to feel the freedom and independence of owning their own businesses.
When I was starting the non-profit I ran for 11 years, never did it feel like it was work in the beginning. I always thought I was so lucky. It was only when the organization started to get bigger, and I faced increasingly frustrating growing pains and HR issues that I started to feel dissonance. I’d finish a week that had been filled with sometimes 20-30 meetings with volunteer groups, organizational teams, donors, funders, vendors, and then retreat up to West Marin in Northern California not wanting to speak to anyone for the whole weekend. I was exhausted.
I missed the energy of early-stage projects that allowed me to work on many different things. I missed getting deep with the people I worked with, sharing that family-like camaraderie and building really solid one-on-one relationships with my colleagues. When I ran the non-profit (which helped immigrant and refugee women to start their own businesses), I once knew each client by her first name. Years later I just knew of maybe the star entrepreneur of the class.
I realized I needed to take my own leap and found myself contemplating a new career. I eventually figured out a model for myself where I could still exercise the values of freedom and independence and be true to my entrepreneurial nature, but do so in a way that allowed me the valuable one-on-one time with people, and the ability to go deep. These values are what drove me to coaching.
Since making the decision to work deeply with people, I’m back to feeling like my work isn’t work, but just a natural extension of what I love to do. I talk with social entrepreneurs, creative people, and people with real struggles trying to take their leap. I have the honor to help guide them to realize their values and craft a path for their life to align with those values. It makes me feel energized, purposeful and alive.
This process and experience makes me realize just how important it is for you to know what you really value, else you may be taking a leap on a path that sounds good in theory, but that may compromise your values or make you feel dissonant or exhausted.
Take a temperature reading of the dissonance in your life. Do you feel any – in your relationships, at work, with respect to your health? If so, I’d challenge you to make a list of your values – not material items, but attributes and ways of being in the world that are especially important to you. Then rate each one on a scale of 1 -10 and see how much you are honoring these values in your life. 10 means you fully honor it. 1 means you have some work to do. Where do you need to honor something more? Are you not honoring one particular value at all? What’s the one big thing you need to shift within YOU to change that?
Values are our spiritual launch pad; they are our internal treasure map. When the dream we want to bring to life is in clear alignment with our values, something magical happens and the treasures of life begin to unfold. You begin to feel a natural energy and momentum which propels you toward your leap. The universe just works that way. It may be scary at first, but at some point you’ll eventually find yourself feeling like what you are doing is not work, but a natural extension of you choosing to live and exercise your values in the world. Let your quest begin!
Executive & Leadership Coach | Global Explorer | Founder, Surf Life Executive Coaching & Brown Girl Surf