The Benefits of Identifying Personal Core Values


Your personal core values define who you are, and a company's core values ultimately define the company's character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”  ~ Tony Hsieh

In Lewis Carroll's timeless Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice seeks advice from the Cheshire Cat on where she should go next:

“The Cheshire Cat: Where are you going?importance of Personal Core Values

Alice: Which way should I go?

The Cheshire Cat: That depends on where you are going.

Alice: I don’t know.

The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Companies invest a lot of thought, energy, and development into their futures, and creating a mission statement or purpose as well as defining core values are crucial milestones within that process. Both can set the company's tone by projecting a vision and establishing the foundation it will take to get there. Without a clear road map, a company's direction can feel aimless and stagnate. 

As Zappos has grown and evolved, so has its purpose. Today ours is "to inspire the world by showing it's possible to simultaneously deliver happiness to customers, employees, community, vendors and shareholders in a long-term, sustainable way." That's a mouthful! Supporting this vision are our 10 Core Values which are the framework of the Zappos culture. Of the importance of core values, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has said, "One of the really interesting things I found from the research is that it actually doesn’t matter what your values are, what matters is that you have them and that you align the organization around them. And the power actually comes from the alignment not from the actual values . . . We’re not out there telling people [that they should adopt the Zappos values] and culture because that would actually probably not work in most cases. Our message is more ‘you should figure out what your values are and then align the entire organization around them." But what about personal core values? If core values are pivotal to a company's conception, can pinpointing individual ones help guide one's career? Can creating your own help you tune into the right job?

Knowing Your Objective

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.” ~ Paulo Coelho

Some people argue that the objective section in one's resume is a now defunct relic of the past full of hollow words. But like a mission statement, one's objective can highlight what's most important. The practice of sitting down and writing about what you want to accomplish during this time in your life can affect the next step you take for the better, and you don't even have to be looking to change jobs for it to be useful. Even if you don't anticipate any upcoming changes in your career, outlining an objective can open yourself up to new opportunities you may not have noticed before. Maybe you decide to learn more about an area of your field of interest or look into new certifications within your industry; maybe you set a goal to reduce work-related stressors or make the most of your time in between jobs. 

One of the benefits of regularly revising your personal objectives is that of perspective. Gaps in a job history or 'detours' during one's career can become stepping stones rather than setbacks when you're able to glean lessons from them. Doing so can remove feelings of regret about the past as well as fear of the unknown future. Sometimes periods in our lives only make sense in hindsight. Steve Jobs noted: "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." So while the objective portion in a resume may be seen as generic and carbon copy, getting into the habit of finding out what your goal is for the here and now can provide you with a new sense of purpose and meaning to even the most challenging situations. 

Personal Core Values Can Act as a Guide

“It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” ~ Roy Disney

Considering all the time spent at work, spending it somewhere that aligns with one's personal core values is quickly becoming more and more of a factor in where people decide to work, which brings a few questions to mind. How important is it that one's values match those of his or her place of employment? Is it a luxury most can't afford, or a practice that can help you identify what is most important to you?

Work-related stress is something that is often felt long after we've left the office and is often seen as just part and parcel of having a job. But what if that stress is caused from a fundamental disconnect between one's personal core values and those of where they work? Is it worth making a lot of money if it's at a job you hate? Or do you love the time you put in regardless of the stress? Really looking at your core needs and desires in your career can help you assess the pros and cons before you. Realizing that money isn't the greatest motivator for you, but feeling appreciated at work is, gives you clarity into how to proceed. Sometimes finding out what doesn't work for you is just as helpful as knowing what does, and defining one's core values can help in that process. 

When you combine knowing what your current objective is with knowing what your core values are, you gain powerful insight into not only your career but about yourself, as well. Being able to identify goals, wins, and even disconnects in your work life can act as a guide for where you ultimately want to be. 

For more on how to identify personal core values, check out this post.

Author: Erica Spelman

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