Values and virtues

Whilst I was a Henley Business School we talked a lot about values in workshops and in coaching sessions I had. A lot of it boiled down to identifying and understanding a set of values that are important to me (typically we were asked to identify between 3 and 5). Inherently, the focus of this set of values is what matters to me. In this way, I take the centre stage. However, I struggled to relate to this concept. Not so much the definition of values but their value. It was interesting to discover the values, but then what?

In some way understanding values could inform my career or lifestyle strategy. But my uneasiness probably more to do with its focus on me. Perhaps this is reflection of the society where this conversation happens – one that strongly gravitates towards individualist approaches. Yet as an individual I am part of a wider community or group or society. The sole focus on values and an individual seems to miss couple of points. One, the virtues and two, others (although the two are related – as virtues focus on others).

Maybe it’s my upbringing and maybe this in itself becomes a reflection of my values, but it seems that without exploring and discussing virtues, the focus on values have limited value. I wonder if by excluding those we might inadvertently encourage a more narcissistic way of looking at things. I seem to perceive that the value of values lies in their connection to virtues – what I ought to do to others. Perhaps mixing exploration of values and virtues could create a healthier/balanced diet of what’s important to me and what’s important that I do to others.

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