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Knowing Your Values Can Spark Courage

The secret ingredient for some steadfast courage...

What Are Values and How Can They Bring Me Courage?

What are values? What do they mean to you? Naturally, introverts may be more attuned to their values, yet recognizing our own values and aligning our behavior is critical for each of us, regardless of our personality.

Values are those tenets that we live by. Consciously and subconsciously they guide our behaviors and our decisions. Our values tend to be tried and true. They are consistent...over the years, with various people and settings (family, social, work), whether others are watching or we are all alone.

Like many parts of ourselves, values are largely formed in our early childhood, from our parents and siblings, close friends, or traumatic events. We may not remember when or how some of our values were established, but they've become bedrocks of our behavior.

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Values are a Gift

Values tend to be a source of pride and conviction when they provide needed courage to tackle life's challenging situations, but may also be a source of guilt and shame if we fail to align our behavior with our own values. We often face difficult conversations, decisions, or challenges in life. I find that if I take some time to pause, step back, and consider how my values guide me, an answer often percolates to the top. On the other hand, violations of my own values are the things that keep me up at night, wracked with guilt and disappointment. While none of us are perfect, making amends and realigning with my core tenets always gets me back on track.

Values sprout courage...provid[ing] that background to make tough decisions easy...

I find values to be especially helpful when navigating strange waters. Earlier this year as I tried to decipher the dozens of recommendations regarding how to publish and market my book, I found myself overwhelmed and often tempted by the energetic salesperson with self-proclaimed credentials. But as I tried to implement some of their tactics I found myself confused and unhappy. I had not filtered these recommendations through my own values. When I did, I was able to discard those methods that were not consistent with my values and a clearer path became obvious.

Discovering Your Own Values

Each of our values is our own. My set of values is uniquely mine. There are not really "right" or "wrong" values, but someone else's values wouldn't fit me any more than mine fit them. We do tend to congregate around others who have similar values as our own. Hanging with those with starkly contrasting values wouldn't be pleasant or bearable for long.

So how do we list our values? First, only you can identify your own values. You may use an online list to help prompt you, but our values come from within. I ask myself these questions:

  • What drives my choices when no one is looking?

  • What drives those hundreds of decisions I make subconsciously every day?

  • What drives those choices regardless of people or settings?

  • What drives decisions we are happy with?

  • What drives regret or remorse - perhaps when we didn't listen to certain values?

  • What behaviors have been consistent for years and decades?

  • What values would you never violate, even if you had to make huge sacrifices (whether that is money, job, power, happiness)?

The Mind Tools Content Team provides additional tips through their article What Are Your Values? Deciding What's Most Important in Life and the following video:

My Values Give Me Courage

I recently found a quiet corner and contemplated my own values:

  1. Family First- this remains my priority. I would sacrifice everything for my family. When this value was compromised as I traveled 50% of the time as an Ex-Pat in London, my entire life and self-confidence were in tatters.

  2. Dignity- I strive to be honest and respectful with others and seek the same from them. I myself violated this tenant when I was a kid and let me frail, somewhat demented grandmother take the fall when I ate an entire pie from the fridge. I remember that scene in detail, now over forty years later. It has driven my vow of honesty and even more so, my need to speak my truth or opinion, no matter how unpopular it may be. Late in my career, I found that my new manager refused to respect the experience and opinions of myself and the rest of the team. That was her approach - be suspicious until proven otherwise. Yet that so conflicted with my values that I wore my frustration on my sleeve. We never really worked well together and after a miserable year, I posted out to find comfort in a new role.

  3. Dependable- there's probably a story or two from my childhood that engrained this belief in me. I feel it is critical to be reliable. So I document my goals and commitments. I incessantly plan my course to achieve such commitments. I work hard to deliver on my commitments. And I expect the same from others. I do recognize this breeds inflexibility in myself, but I think "our word is our bond."

  4. Initiative- I used to interpret this as a drive to extremes - work hard / play hard. I lived that motto for much of my career until I found I was burning the candle at both ends. Now, I strive for moderation. Yet I still hold Initiative as a key value because it represents the determination and drive to achieve and succeed, albeit in more introspective goals of happiness and self-actualization rather than the more superficial goals of multi-million dollar business goals and 170-mile bike races.

  5. Learner- my family always supported my schoolwork, but this didn't become my own value until I was at college and beyond. I became curious about work and leadership, as well as history and self-care. This has driven me to be a mentor and leader at work, and to support a culture of learning at home.

In my experiences especially at work, I found that sometimes it takes courage to live by my values. But now I realize my values sprout courage. They provide that background to make tough decisions easier and to treat various situations with fairness and consistency.

I find it comforting to actually write down my values. It lends a degree of accountability and a bit of structure toward learning more about these values in me and how I may lean on them to drive happiness in my life and those family members around me. After all, these are my values!


We all need courage in a time like this...

Available AWARD-WINNING book, In Search of Courage:

I'm honored to share that In Search of Courage won the SILVER AWARD from the Nonfiction Authors Association, who noted:

Wallflowers of the world will rejoice upon reading Steve Friedman's account of his journey.
The stories in this book go from heart-wrenching to heartwarming.
I cannot imagine how scary it must have been for the author to share so much of himself with the world but I think the fact that he has, proves that he has found the courage that he was in search of. Perhaps this book will help others to do the same! - Nonfiction Authors Association Book Awards Program


Starting Thursday, you can get your eBook (on Amazon) for $0.99 and Paperback (on Amazon and Indie Lector Store) for only $12.00.


Get Your Signed Copy via Indie Lector!

Outside the US? You can find In Search of Courage on your local Amazon platform; eg,,,,,,,, and more!




April 24 is National Pig in a Blanket Day

Friday, April 24 is National Pig in a Blanket Day. I do love breakfast. I think I love breakfast both because it brings back great memories of my dad's delicious morning meals and because it presents a great opportunity for the family to come together at the beginning of the day. It sort of sets the tone for the day ahead.

Pig in a Blanket is one of my favorite breakfast treats, given it combines my favorites: biscuits and sausage. And they're so cute! Who doesn't want to be a sausage link getting a big, warm hug in the morning?


See more of Jennifer's inspirational creations at


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