Decision Making Becomes Simple – When Our Values are Clear
If we dig into our past, we have recollections of several decisions that we have made. Contemplating over these decisions can help us become conscious of certain patterns of thoughts, that help us deploy our skills and abilities towards negotiating our sphere of life, which includes profession, family life, social life, academic pursuits and moments spent in service of the community. Why did we make those decisions? Unconsciously, it may be our personal values that guided us to make choices. Stephen Covey, in his book ‘Principle Centered Leadership’ mentions principles like equality, honesty, justice, one-ness etc. as timeless principles, however, our personal values are the application of these principles, or a combination of them in every situation. Our personal values are what we will be remembered for, when we exist no more.
The great Indian epic ‘Mahabharata, which many of us have grown up listening to, is a fine demonstration of how personal values impact not only family but also organizational decisions in a positive or negative way. In the end, an organization is a collection of human beings, related to each other by a hierarchy. The roots of the personal values, family values carried by individuals, especially in the Indian context are strong, and could influence organizational decision making. While reading the book “30 Women in Power” by Naina Lal Kidwai, it especially struck me how personal values, and believing in them, were so important for Indian women to rise to leadership.
Can we change our personal values, for the benefit of self or organizations? I remember a sentence uttered by my respected teacher of Organizational Development, Dr. Uma Jain: – “Values cannot change, they can only be clarified”. Those who have gone through life changing situations, may have experienced an instant clarification of values.
Reflecting on why and how we made decisions, however small, in each part of life, may reveal parts and patterns of ourselves that could clarify what we consider as our ‘values’. Personal values could have the same ‘name’ but manifest themselves differently for different people. For e.g. the value of ‘continuous learning’ could mean that person ‘A’ invests a significant amount of time and money every year in learning. Person ‘B’ could live the same value by learning from each and every experience – be it success or failure. Person ‘C’ could apply this value by being associated with or supporting educational causes or institutes. Person ‘D’ could make ‘teaching’ or ‘training’ their profession, by virtue of this value driving their career decision.
Our strengths and abilities help us actively implement our values into our decisions, and hence it is important to be aware of both – our values as well as our strengths, so as to actively use them. We have seen one of our dear professional friends and co-founder of a Czech company Libor Mertl, implement the value of ‘diversity’, by fully utilizing his strength of risk taking and communication, by inspiring leaders from various cultures to align on a common vision, be it as consultants or board members.
Decisions made on the basis of our personal values are owned by us. If this has not been the case thus far, we tend to blame others for our current realities, and look to their approval for decisions about our future. I remember fondly, a moment of discovery, of one of our participants in the “DOR” program for women professionals. While reflecting about her life decisions, she initially thought, ‘family orientation’ was one of her values, since she had listened to her parents and then her husband all her life about what she should do as her profession. But she was not happy. While choosing her values from an array of words offered to her, she discovered that ‘fun’ was one of her values! She eventually chose a profession she enjoyed, and completely owns that decisions today.
Imagine a standpoint where we are aware of our strengths and our values. We use our values to draw our strengths in a positive direction to attain our goals. A standpoint where we can express ourselves with integrity, where we are aware of our emotions. A standpoint where we can rightfully call ourselves emotionally intelligent beings, and hence sail through difficult decisions with élan!
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