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Values and congruence

Values and congruency are a difficult topic to cover. As we discovered during the LeaderQuest meeting, knowing what you value and acting on those values isn't easy to do all the time. Even knowing what it is you truly value is difficult to think about and is often a process that is reevaluated throughout the course of your life.

This discussion also raises some interesting questions. Can you ever really discover what you value by placing words upon it? At some point, doesn't it just become word games? Toward the end of the discussion about values, when people were forced to have only a few values and to choose from those their "top" value, many people spoke about how their "top" value encompassed all of the other ones or, "without this value, none of the other values would matter, so that is why I chose this one."

The Greek philosopher and poet Heraclitus said, "The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become." Is it possible, then, to every really articulate what it is you value in a few words? Or is it a constant cycle of evaluation, a striving toward some greater goal of which we are unaware? It is worthwhile to think of the value of knowing in words the things you value and those that you do not. Does it help you to make decisions and choose your actions?

During part of our discussion, we talked about President George W. Bush. Many people said that they felt he was congruent even if they didn't agree with his actions. Others said he was not congruent because some of his actions have not been congruent to the values we'd expect from the office of the President of the United States. So is Bush incongruent or is it more of a question of whether his values or actions are "right" or "wrong?" When you are in a position of power, what takes precedence, your values or the expected values of the office you hold? Do you surrender your values entirely in a position of power? If so, who decides what your values are. If not, what happens when your values conflict?

Is it possible for your values to be wrong? Who decides whether these are right or wrong? Is it possible for two or more of the things you value to be incongruent with each other? What then? How do you resolve that conflict?

Another good exercise I have seen used in discovering values is asking the question, "What do you want people to say about you when you die?" Although this question sounds morbid, it is often easier to uncover the things that are most important to you (or you wish were most important to you).