Over the past few months I have been putting more time and focus into building my online training business outside of my full time job. I love working with clients, and it is something I hope to grow long term. So of course, with the amazing resources I am blessed with in my life, I reached out to Dave Tate for some guidance. The first thing he suggested was to figure out and define my personal values. Finding and defining those values will help me lead my business in the right direction, and assist with decision making in the future. Sure, that all makes sense. I told Dave, “No problem…I will get those to you in a few days.” Easy peasy.

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Well…not so much. It’s definitely been a few weeks and I am still wrestling with it. Finding and defining my values has actually been extremely difficult. To me, finding my values (in essence: finding myself) is defining what I believe in, but even more so, why I believe it.

The Ugly Truth of Value Hunting

As part of my “value hunting” Dave instructed me to make two lists. The first list was of people who had the most positive and influential effect on my life, and why. The other was a list of people who pissed me off or hurt me to no end and negatively impacted my life in some way, and why. As I created my lists I found my positive list to actually be extremely hard to make. I was basically at a standstill at around five people…then the rest were pretty superficial at best. However, my negative list might as well have been a mile long. At the time I didn’t think much of it. I mean, everyone goes through things or struggles throughout their life. This is just a normal part of being a human being.

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But as I started to think of “why” some people were influential in my life (positively or negatively) I noticed a lot of the personal values I started coming up with were based much more so off my negative experiences. This is where it started to get ugly. Sitting down and thinking about those situations in my past dug up a lot of pent up emotions that I have stored away for as long as 10 years. Before I knew it, I was getting frustrated more easily with daily tasks, lashing out at friends, and was just plain angry. This exercise reminded me of the number of times I was betrayed by a loved one (loyalty), or the loved ones in my life who still hold grudges for my wrong doings (forgiveness), or my confidants who never actually had my back when the going got tough (trust.) You get the idea.

I learned more about myself and what I value from the people and experiences in my life that have hurt me, because it taught me who I never want to be, and what I never want to do. It taught me how I would never treat a client. It taught me how I would never mislead a coworker. It taught me that I would always forgive others for their mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely learned a ton from positive role models and experiences. But the negative stuff, the nasty stuff — that was personal. That shit left scars. So as I am going through this process I am thinking, "Hold up. Wait. I actually have to deal with these things now?"

Now…I am not so sure. I was much happier with them buried away and forgotten. Is this process really necessary? My guess is unfortunately, yes. At least if you want to have a successful business, and life in the long term.

Finding your Values Empowers You to Find Your Voice

As painful as it was and still is, taking the time to figure out not only what is important to me but WHY it is important to me was such a huge turning point. It was frustrating, it made me angry, but putting it all out on the table and redirecting my emotion in a productive way is what I am learning to do. At the end of the day, your values are basically a list of what makes you, you. Analyzing and defining what makes you who you are is the only way to find your true voice. A true voice can give you ground to stand on when things get hard, when you are challenged, and when you just don’t know what to do. You can always go back to those values and find your answer, in business and in life.

So I leave you with this: Whether you are starting a new career, growing your business, or taking your life in a new direction, I highly suggest digging deep and sorting out what really matters in your life and WHY. Where did your values and beliefs come from? What experiences molded you into who you are today? We all think we know ourselves until we actually put it on paper and realize there’s more to the story. And I encourage you to find it. Even when it sucks or brings up bad shit. A person who not only creates structured values for themselves but who also dug within every inch of their story, is a force to reckoned with in this world. Something tells me they will be okay.