Coaching clients often want help sorting out those “next steps” in their careers. I like to start that process by asking clients to develop a career vision – a picture of where they think they would like to be in ten years. Stephen Covey popularized the concept of ‘starting with the end in mind.’ If you have a clear picture of where you think you are headed, it is easier to develop goals and strategies to help you get there.
Michigan State University football coach Mark Dantonio has built a national powerhouse program in recent years. I had the pleasure of hearing coach Dantonio speak when he first came to East Lansing as a virtual unknown, having just coached at the University of Cincinnati. Much to my surprise, coach Dantonio did not speak to the crowd eager for a revival of the MSU football program about how he was going to improve recruiting or his strategy for beating arch rival Michigan in the fall. Instead, he focused on the core values that are the foundation of his program. Players and coaches who were going to be part of his program would be expected to embrace and live out those values. The unspoken message, of course, was a program built on the right values would eventually produce wins on the football field.
Similarly, it’s important in creating your career vision that you start with a solid foundation. That is why I have my clients begin by defining their values.
When I coach people, I often refer back to their core values when helping them develop strategies for achieving goals. When considering a course of action, you should always ask yourself: “how does what I am considering tie into the values I have defined as a priority in my life?” Here are steps to take in your values assessment:
- Start your values assessment by listing your top 10-15 values. What are yours? Integrity, trust, honesty, spirituality, work ethic are some of the possible choices. There is no magic number, only what you determine is right for you. Take some time with this. Reflect on what really matters in your life. These should be values that reflect who you are and the person whom you want people to remember after you have finished your career;
- What are your top three? After you have listed your total list of core values, prioritize them. What do you choose as those first three that rise to the top above the others?
- What is number one? Again, there is no right or wrong answer. There is just YOUR answer.
- Show your self-assessment to others. How does what you have selected match up with how others see you. Show it to your spouse, colleagues and other professionals with who you feel comfortable having this important discussion. Finally;
- Make a commitment to LIVE your values. It does no good to write this stuff down and file it away on your hard drive. Reflect on a value every morning and ask yourself, how will I live this out today? Embrace your values as the foundation of how you treat others, how you view yourself, and how you conduct business.
Once you have completed your values assessment, you are ready to draft your career vision, which will be the subject of my next couple of posts. For today, I have this question:
What are your top three values?