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Updated: Nov 25, 2020

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Values are so key in helping us guide our decision making process. It is one of the skills that we have to take a moment every once and awhile to refine and redefine what our values are. If I, as a leader, do not reflect on what my values are, then I cannot truly understand how my decisions will affect those around me.

There are a lot of values that are forced upon us from society. The media wants us to think what is on the outside is what matters, and our beauty is a value we should be working on. The vast majority of the population is making a huge push on monetary wealth as an important value. Success, which often seems to be defined as how much money one makes, is also a value that is given a lot of attention in our societies.

When I was a child, there was a shift from family to individual activities, and time with family was devalued. Instead, the multitude of activities each of us children were involved in became the focus. So with the values of family becoming less important, and success and money being more important - it really is a key skill to acknowledge, and that is what drives many of the decisions.

So is it possible to change those values? I can’t answer that question, but I can suggest that it is something we should look at often, and go through that work with student leaders. If we, along with the student leaders, can name and know our values, then we can acknowledge the impact those decisions have on marginalized members of our community.

Fear is a large driver of decisions, but not many of us would say that we value fear, although I believe that we should. Many of us, especially leaders, are driven by our fears and insecurities. If we choose values that matter to us, and those values are different from what society says should matter, then those fears are even more present. This is why we should have conversations about values with our student leaders. It is hard to stand up for what we believe in when everything we see and hear is screaming that other things are more important. However, giving students a place to reflect individually allows them the opportunity to think about why those values are important to them. Even just sharing language around values, and talking about having different values from the person next to you, is a process that starts the gears moving, and encourages people to be reflective about how our decisions based on our values might impact others in our community.

In schools, there is so much value placed on appearance and stature. Those values are what leads to many of the challenges we face in schools with the “haves” and the “have nots,” or what defines normal. These choices that are made create so much angst for many students (I might argue all students) about appearance, that it has a dramatic impact on the marginalized groups in schools. Those who can’t afford the ‘right’ look, or don’t want to conform to that look, or any specific look in particular is a breeding ground for bullying and groupings of students. If we talk about this with our student leaders, and they can recognize how everyone is impacted by those values and choices, then maybe they will think again about placing such a high value on appearance. I am not suggesting this is the solution, I am just suggesting that many students don’t think too far beyond self preservation, and giving them an opportunity to think beyond that might lead to a slight change in acceptance.

If this post speaks to you, I encourage you to have a conversation with your students about values, and share this post with someone else. If you think the ideas I am sharing could be useful in a training session for you or your school - please contact me today for a discovery conversation to see if we are a good fit. I really want to spread the world with strong, confident leaders. I can work with teachers, students or your own children, there is really nothing we can’t try.

When making a decision, what value drives you?

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