Values in Conflict (30 March 2013)

Values are usually seen as a “good thing”; things like truth, freedom, trust, individuality, equality, integrity and respect are our touchstones for a good, praiseworthy life (we hope).

But values can be in conflict, and can lead to inaction and confusion. I recently met a woman who has worked as a human rights defender for 10 years or so, based in an office; at one level, her values are satisfied by this work, and she feels she is “doing good”.

However, she is also bored and frustrated; the consequence of working in an office with a boss who stifles her creativity and limits her responsibility – sound familiar? Of course, I only heard her side….

But as a good coach, I support her entirely and don’t judge her: OK?!
Then she had a dream job offer for a human rights defender with no family and special ties; to work on the frontline in the field. It seemed, as a job, to satisfy all the values she talked about, some of the ones listed above.

Trouble is, she had other, secret and conflicting values; ones that she was, in effect, ashamed of. These included safety, security, comfort; the sort of values she felt she shouldn’t have, “conservative” values that she wanted to suppress because they seemed at odds with an image she wanted to project of herself – mostly to herself. The courageous, daring activist, fighting selflessly for the rights of others; this is how she wanted to see herself. But the job was based in a conflict area, and did carry risks of personal security. Her values were in conflict, and her decision-making was entirely blocked.

She came to recognize the full range of values she holds, to feel comfortable with them, and to plan her course of action and change accordingly, feeling happier as a consequence.

So what values are you trying to hide and suppress from yourself, and how are they holding you back from doing the things you want to do?

All the best

Graham - email: - tel: + (44) (0) 7890 360 806 - skype: tigercoaching1