Know your Values, Hold them Close

[May 10, 2022]  When you know your values, and they are a substantial part of your being, decisions, voluntary actions, and speech are more manageable.  Values provide us with independence and freedom of action; they anchor us to what is real.  We know where we stand, with our feet firmly planted in the predictable world.

On the flip side, if you are only guided by rigid rules through memorization, without a proper understanding of why those rules exist, you will drift in your life, never knowing where you are.

Humans learn values through their embodiment in stories; the ancient way of communicating the world in tales is still valid today.  From the time we are small infants, we hear stories; demand them from adults who surround us, and we will sit for hours to hear those that entertain us.  That entertainment touches us deep in the recesses of our ancient minds and follows common themes that hint at the essential themes of life.  And we, therefore, place them on a high pedestal and call them morality which is why we hold these values close.

Make no mistake about it, any failure to know our values, to fail to keep them in the forefront of our consciousness, is to fail spectacularly.

What is the highest of values?  What best explains the outside world that makes sense in the easiest terms?  And will those values hold up over time and exist, ideally, across cultures?

Our highest value is the pursuit of truth, the mapping of reality to “see” what’s coming, fend off dangers, and pursue what is necessary.  This idea is why words are so important, to tell the story straight, else we will error and die or injure or lose something we need or desire, to fall into turmoil.

When we hold up these higher values, such as honor, integrity, and truthfulness, or liberty, individualism, and independence, we are instinctively idolizing what makes us the most human.  It’s the same as the hero who, with his shield and sword, slays the dragon (or snake, tyrant, Satan) and saves the princess (or gold, things of great value), like the ancient legend of Saint George, a religious martyr, dragon-slayer, and knight in shining armor.

What, then, should be the values that we hold dearest?  The most obvious are those that push us closest to the truth (honor, integrity, truthfulness, liberty).  Others include values implicit in our continued existence (survival, relationships, individualism and cohesion).  But perhaps others create conditions for our getting along with others (empathy, cooperation, loyalty, and duty).  These values matter and are more than a simple checklist to hold onto.  They are built into our culture.  For example, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and brought down the Ten Commandments, and within them are an array of the practical values given to Moses by God.  Most Western notions of law and ethics are based on these principles.

As the United States heads into the 21st Century, many of our values will begin to shift.  This change is already happening.  Yet, the overwhelming evidence is that these Christian values will be with Americans for a long time.

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Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “Know your Values, Hold them Close

  1. Adolf Menschner

    This is why it is so important to have good people who surround you. They constantly help us all adjust our behavior and not go off on some stupid tangent. For those that work from home and never go anywhere (due to fear of the pandemic or whatever), they will be distorted and slowly grow problems they then cannot easily address.

    Reply
    1. Harry Man

      Interesting interpretation. Good points Adolf. Well said.✔

      Reply
  2. Audrey

    The pursuit of truth. That is the highest goal. That is how you gain and protect your family and community. And, it is no easy task. We are easily misled and tripped up. Be careful. Learn to be wise.

    Reply
  3. Eagle Eye

    If you cannot list your top values, then you are in big ass trouble with yourself. Sit down, make a list, study that list and read and listen to others. Put that list through a ringer to sort out the chaff. Keep only the good. Make a pact with yourself that you will be better each day, if only it were just a small amount.

    Reply
    1. Winston

      Well said, Eagle Eye (love the moniker). thanks. 👍👍👍👍

      Reply
  4. British Citizen

    Core values are an agreed set of fundamental beliefs and priorities that help an individual or group of people make consistent, high-integrity decisions. They’re a prioritised list of what YOU think matters most. The most effective folks I know (and the best companies in the world) all work from clear mission and value statements. Their mission statement keeps them focussed on “What” they want to achieve (having impact or earning profits by helping people achieve a goal). Their core values statement keeps them focussed on “How” they want to achieve it. Where trade-offs must be made, core values tell them what to prioritise first.

    Reply
    1. Bryan Z. Lee

      A common mistake many people make is confusing core values with character traits. A character trait is a distinguishing quality or characteristic of a person’s behavior, like honesty, integrity or respect.

      Reply
  5. Dennis Mathes

    Core values drive behaviour and form beliefs. Examples of core values include reliability, dependability, loyalty, honesty, commitment, consistency, and efficiency. People in satisfying relationships will often say their partner shares their values. They are usually talking about core values, which dictate how they live their lives.

    Reply
    1. Boy Sue

      Correct, Dennis. We are all learning. but if you do not have any values you can identify, then I recommend you sit down and write them out, think about them, and how they help you be a good person day in and day out. Just a thought.

      Reply
  6. Anya B.

    Great quote, “When we hold up these higher values, such as honor, integrity, and truthfulness, or liberty, individualism, and independence, we are instinctively idolizing what makes us the most human. ” by Gen. S.

    Reply
  7. Valkerie

    According to Schwartz’s Theory of Basic Values, affect and values are inextricably connected. Values become saturated with emotion once we activate them. They transcend specific situations and actions, which distinguishes them from attitudes and norms. They refer to action-motivating, desirable goals. Thanks General Satterfield for another great article.

    Reply
    1. New Girl #1

      Right, and I also think this is where he distinguished betw Personal Core Values and Professional-Work Core Values. A lot of similarity but different for obvious reasons.

      Reply
  8. Goalie for Cal State

    “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” – C.S. Lewis, British novelist, poet, academic, and theologian

    Reply
    1. Cat A Miss

      “When you know your values and those values are part of one’s being, it makes decisions much easier and it provides us with independence and freedom that is unimaginable to those who are guided only by rules and regulations. Perhaps that is why U.S. military leaders – in one of the most structured organizations – are so adamant that we learn and internalize their core values.” – Gen. Satterfield

      Reply
    2. Bernard

      Core values are, by definition, those driving forces behind a company or person. We tend to use the term core values as directly referring to an organization only … but I argue that it also applies to people as well.

      Reply
      1. 76 Wife

        Got that right Bernard. Also a driving force behind people too. Lots of websites deal with core values but very few deal with the explanation of why they are so important. That is what you will find here in Gen. Satterfield’s website. That is what attracted me to it and keeps me coming back daily for my does of reality.

        Reply
  9. Frontier Man

    … or drown in the chaos of the times. ✔ Once again, Gen. Satterfield delivers.

    Reply
    1. JT Patterson

      It is easy to say that I gain a bunch of good ideas from this website. Gen. Satterfield has been on line now for more than eight years and I am one of the original fans that began posting on his forum. I cannot say how much I’ve learned but the journey has been worthwhile. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield. Keep up the great works you are doing for us.

      Reply
      1. Willie Strumburger

        I think we are all fans and have gained a lot.

        Reply
    2. Fred Weber

      Where else can you find this level of info that goes to the heart of being a great leader, or, of course, goes to being a good man or woman? Nowhere that I’m aware. Most leadership site just list the ways to be a good person. Gen. Satterfield explains it.

      Reply

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