In our discussion of human capital, we identify “values” as one of the three components of human capital.
Taking it a step further, values represent a combination of three things:
Let’s consider these one at a time.
When looking at a person’s values, one set of values generally manifests as attributes. That is, the person was either born with these values or the values were instilled at such an early age that they are practically hardwired into the person. These values are either passed on genetically, or they are nurtured into a person during his or her formative years. Some people call these “foundational”.
If your parents were philanthropic, if they loved to be outside, and if they loved a good-natured banter about politics at the dinner table, you likely carry a set of values that include generosity, an active lifestyle, and a similar political leaning or set of ethics. This explains why most children belong to the same religion and political party as their parents.
You might want to be something that you have never had. If your family declared bankruptcy twice, and you never felt financially secure, you might find security in your top five values. If you have never felt physically healthy, you might value clean living more than someone who has enjoyed good health her entire life. If your parents divorced when you were too young to remember, you might hold intimacy as an “aspirating value”.
These values can be attributes or motivators. What makes them unique is that they move up and down in importance based often on your stage of life. If you are a parent, you might say that your family is one of your core values, whereas it might not have been in your top five when you were 25 years old and single. If you are nearing retirements, you might value leisure more than you did when you were just starting your business.Being aware of attributes, motivators, and their place as priorities, helps you make decisions. Every decision is born in a value of some kind. Decisions made outside the context of your values are those that turn out badly or do not turn out at all. Awareness of the value that a pending decision honors can make you more resolute in that decision, or it can save you from making a huge mistake!