Your values and beliefs are those important ideas that come to drive your understanding about what is good and right in all of what you do in your life. Your journey on The Pathway to Excellence, therefore, requires you to work out what you actually stand for and the impact that this might have on what you do. In other words, you need to do more than live life – you should seek to live a life that you believe is worthwhile and meaningful, a life that also brings benefit to others while sustaining our capacity to thrive in our world.
Your values and beliefs go beyond physical nature. They tell you about the meaningfulness of these things and how they bring value to others. They link “values” to “value”. In this way, your values and beliefs connect the practicality of the people and things around you in our world to the meaning that these things bring to your life and the character that is formed as a consequence.
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 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 how 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, live, lead, and work.
In other words, value suggests that we will give something up, such as our labour, possessions, and resources in return for some benefit that we receive. We may also be more likely to give up the opportunity to gain something else 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.
“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
As you explore The Pathway to Excellence further, you will find you can improve the quality and consistency of the articulation and practice of your values and beliefs by:
To help you with identifying your core beliefs and moral code, we can suggest six values that we at a School for tomorrow. have identified as central to thriving in our world. They look at how to locate and dedicate our values and beliefs in the process of becoming a future-fit contributor in a time of great change:
Values and beliefs such as these can provide clear direction as to the future-fit character of your contribution to people and place and planet. They can give you a reason for your choices. They should become fundamental to your being and drive your actions. They help you see what is most critical to your survival in the first instance, the success of your daily life on an ongoing basis, and finally your propensity to grow and develop into who you feel that you might become and ought to be. They also give you and others something of tangible value that you can contribute that can bring a benefit to the lives of others and ourselves.
Your values and beliefs can become so important to you that they can come to define and underpin your rationale for living, your fundamental reason why you do what you do and make all of the choices that go along with this — Your Purpose. They connect you to and ground you in your awareness of your relationships with others, the physical space you inhabit, and the sense of belonging that emerges from these — Your People and Your Place. They bring the moral power of striving to do what is good and right to your attempts to fulfil your potential — Your Practice.