What's Important to You?

Discover Your Values

Why Values Are Important

The famed acting coach Stanislavski asked three* questions of his actors: "Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here?" Most of us spend a lifetime answering these questions.

Your values are deep-seated pervasive standards that influence almost every aspect of your life. You judge, you respond, and you commit based on an internal code of values. Often, values are unconscious.

Every high-performing individual, team, and organization is founded on a shared purpose, vision, and values. Your purpose answers the question "Why are you here?" Your vision answers the question "What do you want?" Values answer the question, "Who are you?" They are the compass that guides you, whether or not you are aware.

Values come before vision, mission, and strategy.

This exercise will help you to become clear about what is important to you.  It can be completed individually to clarify your personal values. It can be repeated with team members to align around shared team values.


The goal is to differentiate among values to find what is important to you at this particular time.

On the following pages, there are 48 values with short definitions. Rate each value as:

  • least valued,
  • seldom valued,
  • sometimes valued,
  • often valued,
  • or always valued.

The rating indicates how important the value is for you at this particular time. There are no right or wrong answers.

Again, the goal is to differentiate among the values to find what is important to you. If you mark too many values as "always valued," or "often valued," you will learn less about your value system. There are five ratings and 48 values. Therefore, limit the total number of values marked in each rating to no more than ten. In other words, when the exercise is over you should have no more than ten values marked in each rating.


The 48 values are listed on six pages. Each page represents a category of values. Categories can be thought of as a way to organize your values.

  • Social Responsibility: Work and cooperate with others for the good of society at large.
  • Mastery: Achieving. Individual pursuits. Status, power, and positions.
  • Self-Development: The pursuit of challenge, creativity, and self-realization.
  • Relationships: Interpersonal. Working with others. Helping. Shared experiences. Being part of a group or team.
  • Continuity: Enduring qualities. Traditions. Knowing where things fit.
  • Lifestyle: Personal choices and style. Ways of being in the world.


*There are different versions of questions from Stanislavski, some with seven questions, some with ten. What's important here is that values can provide you with self-knowledge.

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