Reconfiguring my Values: Human Values

Let me be honest with y’all (and with myself), writing has been hard recently. I will choose to blame COVID and all that is going on in the country, but I know a part of it has been sheer laziness. Can you relate? This blog is growing cobwebs but we move. I recently finished the longest semester of my life – eight months to be exact – but we move. I also finished reading a book that I got at the beginning of the lockdown last year (yep, March 2020) buuuut… we move. This time to reflect – sometimes in the evening because I had a nightmare and can’t sleep or during the day because I can’t focus on anything else – has me reading up on “thinking” and how it can be applied to inspire progress. Yah, it was supposed to be something I picked up last year but, I got bored with this idea until recently. Don’t stress, I won’t get too philosophical, but I am learning that the concept of thinking can be interesting.

De Bono writes (or wrote, hihi), “the purpose of thinking is to enable us to deliver and enjoy our values.” If you know me, you know that I am a strong believer in well-defined values. I usually tell the ladies I work with (and anyone I get to share with really) that we can have an idea of what our values are but it’s only once we have well-defined values that we start moving forward so that defining is critical to progress. While you may recognise the acquired values – those values you get from your family, institutions you are part of, or the society you grew up in – they are not helpful until you can add the why. I really like this statement by De Bono because it connects the emotional and applicable things – values – to the logical part of being i.e. thinking. De Bono writes on “six value medals” related to creating a nexus between values and thinking. These six are human values, organizational values, quality values, creativity and innovation values, ecology values, and perception values. I really enjoyed this characterization of values and, especially in this season, have found myself thinking about them a lot.

“Gold is precious, and so are people. The gold medal asks, what matters to the people? Human values include pride, achievement, a sense of belonging, hope, trust, and growth.”

The De Bono Group

It’s a lot to share at once so, for today, let’s talk about human values (aka gold values). (P.S. Before we continue, I just want you to note that I will personalise my understanding of De Bonos values. If we think about them in the practical sense, we can discuss things like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and I’d rather not get that deep. Not my jam, that one). The idea is that gold shows how precious humans are and therefore the importance of thinking through these. It proposes that, where values are concerned, we must think about how we give others a sense of belonging, how we celebrate achievements and how we exercise pride and humility at a personal level at an interpersonal level. One of my vision applications is making (or providing) a safe space for all who engage with me. Think about it, how often do we create a toxic environment for those around us and, by default, ourselves? The gold value speaks to maximizing my relationships to ensure that I put the R in RESPECTING others. Here’s a vulnerable moment for you. So, recently, someone I really care about celebrated their birthday. For me, what this meant was I would get to celebrate them and ensure that they have the best day ever. It didn’t cross my mind as I strategised that the “best day ever” for this person could be one that didn’t have me as part of it. I basically set myself up for hurt and disappointment when they decided that I wasn’t a priority on that day and they had different plans for themselves. The gold medal tells me I should create space for those I do life with to feel celebrated as well as have a sense of belonging by asking “what matters to [them].” It is easy for us to then respond in anger and frustration, and consequently in ways that humiliate the other person, where we feel that that “celebration” or “pride” we had towards something (or even where we feel humiliated), disregarding the gold value.

It is often hard to practice human values because it can be easy to retaliate where we feel like our actions are not reciprocated. In my example above, it was easy for me to respond negatively to this person – maybe even affecting the way they celebrated their achievement – because I felt that I wasn’t considered in this situation. There may be many similar instances: a family event, a friends special event, colleagues do that you feel you should have been invited to be part of the celebration in. I am sure you can think of many more yourself. For me, this value sector forces me to interrogate how I give and receive praise. It says I must teach others how to exercise the gold medal value in their interactions with me but also has me consider the role I knowingly and unknowingly contribute to others feeling respected or humiliated. This is important to me and is something I am deciding, daily, to work on daily.

So the questions, to myself – and maybe to anyone reading this – are: How do I live out the gold value in all facets of your life? How do I add positive value to the social “hierarchy of needs” table of those I do life with – how do I ensure I SEE people and what matters to them? How do I ensure that the humans in my life (and Mocha) know, through my actions, how precious they are? 

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