To Get What You Need You Have to Know What You Value
Do you ever find yourself unsure of what you “need” in a situation or what would be the “best” thing to do? Would you like more confidence that the decisions you make are not sowing the seeds of regret? If so, you may be intrigued by our response to this question from our community: “What’s the difference between values and needs?” This is our attempt at a very brief education about core human values and a look at how to develop what we call your Values Intelligence, or V-IQ.
Let’s start by defining what we mean by core human values.
The word value originates from the Latin word “valere“, which means “be strong, be well, be of value,” and is also the root of the word “valiant.”
We define human values as:
What’s most deeply important to a person, without reference to specific people, places, actions or times.
Human values are the landmarks that guide a person’s choices so their actions are in harmony with what is most meaningful to them. They are what a person finds most important or motivating at the deepest level.
To be clear about this. here’s a very brief list of things we would describe as basic human values.
Again, this is a very brief list of examples of core values. Your most important personal values may exclude some that are on this list, and may include many others which don’t appear here.
You may notice that things such as: air, food, water, shelter, etc. are not on this list. That’s because these are not what we would call exclusively “human values.” These fall more in the category of things that are valuable for sustaining life in whatever form.
The important thing to pay attention to when reviewing this list is the last part of our definition. You’ll notice that each of the words in the values list describes something “without reference to specific people, places, actions or times.” If they did, we would call these “strategies” rather than “values.”
This distinction plays an important role in answering the next question.
What’s the Difference Between Values and Needs?
By definition, a need is: a lack of something useful, required, or desired. Therefore, if we don’t consider something useful, required, or desired, we can never be in need of it. As a corollary to this, we cannot “need” something unless it is lacking.
In short: you can’t need it if you don’t value it or if you’ve already got it.
There are a few benefits from shifting our understanding of these words in these ways. One is that by using these definitions we naturally turn our attention to what we value that’s missing in a situation, rather than dwelling on what is lacking that we “need.” This turns our attention from what we don’t have to what we want, which is a much more powerful perspective for identifying our options.
Second, we all know how quickly someone can become “one to avoid” if they always express themselves in terms of their needs. Have you ever heard someone describe someone else by saying, “They’re just too needy!”
But expressing what we want in terms of what we value allows others to relate to us in terms they can identify with. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone reacting negatively to someone “valuing” everything in the examples of values listed above. You’ll probably never hear someone say, “They’re just too valuey!”
The Importance of Knowing What You Value
Everything we’ve covered so far was intended to bring us to this point. We can now take a look at the critical importance of being able to identify your own, personal core values, which is this.
If you misidentify what you value, it’s likely you’ll misidentify what you need, which makes it likely that you’ll develop strategies that will satisfy neither what you need nor what you value.
This is why we believe it’s so important that people begin to develop their Values Intelligence, or V-IQ. We understand this as your ability to:
- Know what you value
- Identify what you value that’s missing in a situation
- Develop concrete, actionable strategies to begin experiencing what you value
- Take only actions that are in harmony with your values
- Measure your success by whether you’re experiencing more of what you value
In this process, identifying your personal values is the first step in knowing the most valiant actions you can take in any situation. In fact, we’ve found no better way for a person to begin experiencing a truly “valuable life” than developing their V-IQ.
If you’re new to our work you may be interested in knowing that we offer a free values exercise worksheet.
This is designed so you can use it in any situation or relationship in your life to determine what you value most–the first characteristic of values intelligence.