VALUES AND BELIEFS
Our values and beliefs are those important ideas that come to drive all of what we do in our lives. The Pathway to Excellence requires us to work out what it is that we actually stand for and the impact that this has on what we do. In other words, that we need to do more than just live a life – we should seek to live a worthwhile and meaningful life that brings benefit to others and sustains our capacity to thrive in our world.
UNDERSTANDING VALUES AND BELIEFS
We all attach value to certain things in our lives. Our circumstances and needs can change what we see as most valuable. According to the psychologist Abraham Maslow, there is a hierarchy of needs, an order which influences our priorities about what we most want at a particular point in time. First comes our physical and safety needs - feed us, clothes us, house us and make sure we are safe from harm. With these things in place, we can turn our attention to our relationships and the love, belonging and sense of esteem that they bring us. If these are in place, we are then more likely to seek to become the best version of ourselves that we might become – we self- actualise.
This hierarchy of needs says to us that we must both place a value on something, therefore, and believe that this thing is worth gaining and holding onto. This is why we talk about values and beliefs together – the phrase describes the way in which we attach value to something and believe that this is justified in a particular way. This value may be practical, it may be financial, it may be something more esoteric altogether. The value we place on things creates an incentive for us to do what we do when we learn, we live, we lead, and we work. In other words, value suggest that we will give something up, such as our labour, our possessions and our resources in return for some benefit that we receive in return. We may also more be more likely to give up the opportunity to gain something else in order to keep something we feel has greater value for us. This suggests to us priority, something that can influence our actions as well as our beliefs.
Our values and beliefs can become so important to us that they can come to define and underpin our rationale for living, our fundamental reason why we do what we do and make all of the choices that go along with this — Our Purpose. They connect us to and ground us in our awareness of the relationships we have to others and the physical space we inhabit and the sense of belonging that emerges from these — Our People and Our Place. They bring the moral power of striving to do what is good and right to our attempts to fulfil our potential — Our Practice.
“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received ... only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.”
Francis of Assisi
VALUES, BELIEFS AND LEARNING ON THE PATHWAY TO EXCELLENCE
Our values and beliefs, therefore, are those ideas that we consider to be most important in our lives. They go beyond the physical nature of things and instead tell us about the meaningfulness of these things to us. They give us a reason for our choices. They are fundamental to our being and drive our actions. They help us see what is most critical to our survival in the first instance, the success of our daily lives on an ongoing basis, and finally our propensity to grow and develop into who we feel that we might become and ought to be.
In this way, our values and beliefs connect the practicality of the people and things around us in our world to the meaning that these things bring to our lives. What does this mean for our learning? How should this influence our pathway to excellence?
We know that we need to pursue The Pathway to Excellence, a model for our human development that has purpose at its heart. It is about growing in the character and competencies we need to thrive in our world. The Pathway to Excellence is all about how we self-actualise – how we grow in our lives to build the adaptive expertise and self-efficacy to experience success – progress and wellness on our pathways to excellence. Adaptive expertise means how we grow in character and the competencies of learning, living, leadership and work and how we use these to solve known and new problems. It is, in essence, our commitment to growth. Self-efficacy means how we organise ourselves and our learning, living, leadership and work to optimise our character and competencies so that we can thrive in their world. It is our capacity to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.
The Pathway to Excellence, therefore, is about a journey of inquiry in search of meaning and the discovery of truth and relevance. The journey helps us to:
- Learn the self-awareness of knowing ourselves through asking: who am I?
- Live in relationships built by earning our places through asking: where do I fit in?
- Lead as a servant who goes on a journey from me to you to us through asking the question: how can I best serve others?
- Work vocationally and find our calling by asking the question: whose am I?
When we learn, we need to become equipped with values that connect us to a sense of hope and a desire for formation:
- Positivity: Inspiring learning by mandating and maintaining a positive tone and attitude
- Excellence: Displaying an enthusiasm for learning by striving for the best possible outcomes
- Capability: Building confidence and competence in learning by strengthening knowledge, capacity, understanding and process
- Motivation: Encouraging discipline and commitment to learning by boosting mastery, autonomy and purpose
- Personalisation: Enhancing learning by respecting and responding to difference and personal needs
When we live, we need to be empowered by values that situate ourselves in our world with relevance and meaningfulness:
- Context: Approaching life as it is presented in its immediate environment
- Research: Cultivating a disposition for truth in life by identifying, investigating and responding to evidence
- Inquiry: Consolidating the meaningfulness of life by asking the right questions and using the right tools to answer them
- Review: Seeking continuous improvement of outcomes and process in life by focusing on outputs, evaluating rich data and homing in on what works – impact
- Creativity: Promoting innovation in life by harnessing perspective, conceptual thinking, iteration and attention to detail
When we lead, we are enabled by values that allow us to contribute effectively to the progress and wellness of others:
- Language: Developing shared culture and practice with a consistent vocabulary
- Structure: Aligning ends, means and intentions through backwards design of planning
- Evaluation: Recognising how and when to give feedback to create better outcomes for all
- Challenge: Addressing the need for growth and improvement in individuals through appropriate coaching, mentorship and character apprenticeship
- Flexibility: Progressing people through logical, clear and adaptable pathways to success
When we work, we engage with values that help us to contribute to the formation of society and the generation of benefit to its members:
- Cause: Dedicating our activity to the compelling social rationale for our beliefs, aspirations, and actions
- Thriving: Understanding the nature of character, competency and wellness and their related graduate outcomes in a fit for purpose lifelong journey of education
- Alignment: Discerning the need for meeting external expectations through one’s own actions
- Contribution: Encouraging the ongoing demonstration of service to others as the ultimate goal of the culture that sustains us and moves us forward into our preferred future
- Legacy: Ensuring that progress is nurtured and sustained beyond our immediate presence
LOCATING OUR VALUES AND BELIEFS IN OUR LIVES
In the end, we believe that everyone benefits from:
- Identifying and understanding their core beliefs and moral code – how you come to know what is good and right in your life
- Adopting an approach to making choices in their lives based on what they think is ethical decision-making – how you should identify the correct options for you to live a life based on an appreciation of what is good and right according to your core beliefs and moral code
- Working through the best way to situate your values in action – how you make specific choices about what you will and will not do according to the principles established in your core beliefs and moral code
- Locating your core beliefs and moral code within a set of spiritual practices – how you place what you value, believe and do within the context of something much greater than yourself, be that a sense of the divine, the way the world and the universe works and ought to work, or both, so long as this transcends your own self and asks you to contemplate a life spent in service of a higher purpose