Values change when goals change

Our values also change when we change goals or self image. If you set a goal to be number one in the company, when you reach it you will be earning more money and expecting different things from others. Your values of how hard you will work from now on may also change. What you regard as a nice car will be different. Even the people you spend your time with may also change to match your “new” self image. Instead of going to get a beer with the boys, you may be sipping a Perrier with the other three people in your office who are planning the expansion.

What you drive, where you go, who your friends are, what you do, all reflect your self identification. They may involve what industrial psychologist Dr Robert McMurray has called inverted ego symbols, which also demonstrate your values. For example, the fact that someone drives an inexpensive car does not mean that he does not think highly of himself or that gas mileage is a major value. Instead, he may want to show that he is above the main stream of humanity by adopting incongruous symbols. A highly educated scientist or entrepreneur who has a very substantial income may want to prove to him self and others how different he is by driving a cheap, beat up economy car. The multimillionaire who lives in a shack may value not wasting space, or he may want to demonstrate his unique values to himself and others.

You can see just how important it is that we discover what our values are. The challenge for most people is that many of these values are unconscious. Often people don’t know why they do certain things – they just feel they have to do them. People feel very uncomfortable and suspicious of individuals who have values very different from their own. Much of the conflict that people have in life results from conflicting values. Just as this is true on a local scale, so it is on an international scale. Almost every war is a war over values. Look at the Middle East, Korea, Vietnam, and so on. And what happens when one country conquers another? The conquerors begin to convert the culture to their own values.

Not only do different countries have different values and different people have different values, but each individual thinks some values are more important than others. Almost all of us have bottom line – things that are more important to us above anything else. For some people it’s honesty; for others it’s friendship. Some people may like to protect a friend, even though honesty is important to them. How can they do this? They do this because friendship is higher on their ladder of importance (hierarchy of values) than honesty in this context. You may place a high personal value on business success, but also on having a close family life. So conflict occurs when you promise to be with your family one evening and then a business opportunity arises. What you choose to do depends on what you place as your highest value at the time. So rather than saying it is bad to spend time on business and not your family or vice versa, just discover what your values truly are. Then for the first time in your life you’ll understand why you do certain things, or why other people do what they do. Values are one of the most important tools for discovering how a person works.

To deal effectively with people, we need to know what’s most important to them, specifically what their hierarchy of values is. A person may have great difficulty understanding other people’s basic behaviors or motivations unless he understands the relative importance of values. Once he does, he can virtually predict how they will respond to any specific set of circumstances. Once you know your own value hierarchy, you can be empowered to resolve any relationship or any internal representation that’s causing you conflict.

There’s no real success except in keeping with your basic values. Sometimes it’s a matter of learning how top meditate between existing values that are in conflict. If a person is having trouble in a high paying job and of his main values is that money is evil, it is not enough to concentrate on the job. The problem is at the higher level of conflicting values. If a person can’t concentrate at work because his highest value is family and he is spending all his time on the job, you have to address the inner conflict and the feeling of incongruity it produces. Reframing and finding the intent does this to a great degree. You can have a billion dollars, but if your life conflicts with your values, you won’t be happy. We see this all the time. People with wealth and power lead impoverished lives. On the other hand, you can be poor as a church mouse financially, but if the life you lead is in accordance with your values, you will feel fulfilled. —