Being clear on your core values is a powerful tool to guide your decisions and behaviors. This insight explores why your core values matter and provides an interactive tool to uncover and align with them.
By the end of the process, you’ll know what your core values are and how they can help you make better decisions and lead a more authentic life.
Table of Contents
What are core values and why do they matter?
Your core values are a set of fundamental principles you value so much that you use them as a compass to guide your personal life, your team, or even your entire organization.
They form the standard for your behavior, for your products and services, and for how people are expected to interact with one another.
For example, your personal core values could be responsibility, curiosity, respect, harmony, and excellence.
Your core values are not so much about what you put on paper but how you actually conduct yourself daily.
For example, you might say that honesty is one of your core values, but if you frequently lie to other people, it clearly is not. You can often tell from someone’s actual behavior what his or her real core values are.
Your core values emerge from your personal backstory, experiences, and personality type. They describe how you wish to conduct yourself as a person, team, or business.
You can set core values on a personal, team, or organizational level:
When the core values on one level are incompatible with the core values on another level, there is friction.
For example: if you value honesty but work for an organization that cheats behind customers’ backs, it might be time to change employers.
A core value is thus an expression of an ideal that you try to live up to. You might not always succeed at this, but these situations offer an opportunity for reflection and improvement.
When you manage a business or a group of people, it’s important that the core values and their associated behaviors are clear to everyone.
Core values can be used for decision-making in situations like hiring and firing. For example, if someone doesn’t live up to the values of the company, they are no longer a good fit for the organization.
The core values of an organization should not only be clear to the employees, but also to everyone the business interacts with, like partners or clients.
Customers who like your values will be attracted to your brand, your products, and your services.
Core values in everday life
Some ideas to make your core values come alive:
You will remind yourself of the ideal principles that you try to live up to, you will render better service and create a positive impact on the rest of the world.
Core values examples
Examples of personal core values
Below are the possible core values of some well-known fictional characters.
Note how changing even one of these core values to one that doesn’t fit the character would be immediately noticeable.
In fact, fans of popular stories are often disappointed when the core values of their favorite characters are not respected when the story is adapted for the big screen.
Frodo (The Lord of The Rings)
Frodo's core values could be altruism, benevolence, commitment, compassion, and honesty.
Yoda (Star Wars)
Yoda's core values could be awareness, responsibility, wisdom, encouragement, simplicity, and peace.
Neo (The Matrix)
Neo's core values could be truth, teamwork, perseverance, skillfulness, and reliability.
Translating core values into specific behaviors
It’s essential to describe what each of your values means to you personally in terms of specific behaviors (see also our core values creator).
For example, in Frodo’s case, altruism could mean that he always wants to be kind and helpful to other people.
For Yoda, peace could mean that he always seeks to act in harmony with the laws of the universe and only resorts to violence if there is no other option.
Examples of organizational core values
Evermove's Core Values
Growth, integrity, leadership, strategy, and health.
Read more about the meaning of these values in our organization
Apple's core values
Accessibility, education, environment, inclusion, privacy, supplier responsibility. Apple has a separate page dedicated to each one of its values.
Cleanliness, friendliness, quality, innovation, and storytelling.
Steve Jobs on the importance of core values
Core values and your personal growth journey
Getting clear on your core values is one of the first steps on your journey of personal growth.
They are an essential tool to navigate the process between where you are and where you want to go.
You don’t need to do or have anything to set your core values. They are a part of who you are.
The goal of personal growth is to develop and express yourself. You must be clear on your strengths, weaknesses, purpose, core values and their associated behaviors. You can't express what you don't have.
Vision and mission
You need to have something to express yourself toward. This is your moving vision that is emotionally pulling you forward. Your mission is what you are going to do specifically to move closer to your vision.
You set objectives, define projects and to-do's to guide your daily actions. These are the steps you take to accomplish your mission, move closer to your vision, and express yourself.
Core Values Creator Tool
We have created a Core Values Creator tool, which guides you through the following step-by-step process:
Select the core values that resonate with you
We've created a list of about 300 core values
Drag and drop the values that you selected into different themes
You can define a maximum of 5 themes.
Write a brief definition for each theme
Describe in your own words what each theme stands for
Describe behaviors for each theme
Describe 3 concrete behaviors for each theme that would be an expression of you living out those core values.
Export your results
Save your core values and associated behaviors as a pdf file
Refer to your list often
Put your list where you can see it and read it every day for 30 days. You'll have changed by the time you finish this process.
Our interactive tool is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are no rules for this. It would make sense to set enough core values to guide your daily behavior but not so many that you can’t remember or honor them.
From our experience, defining somewhere close to five core values is ideal for practical use.
Core values are not the same as character traits, but some character traits can evolve into core values.
For example, if you are a very honest person, honesty could be one of the values you try to honor at all times.
Yes, your core values can evolve as you become more experienced or mature, but they do so slowly.
It’s also possible that their meaning or associated behaviors become refined over time.
The importance of explicitly setting your core values is underestimated.
They are your standards for decision-making, for how you behave, for the quality and characteristics of your products, services, and more.
Share your thoughts and core values
We’d love to learn what your core values are and how you put them into practice. If you want to share them, or if you have questions, please leave a comment below.
You may also share the link to this Core Values Creator with others.
We hope that our tool and this information were helpful to you.
Thank you for reading, keep moving forward!
I was using this as part of a high school lesson, but the core values are no longer listed to choose from. The button to move forward is there, but no values are there to be selected like they were previously. Can this be resolved? I really enjoy this for my junior English class.
Sorry for the inconvenience. We are actually experiencing a little bug on the website since yesterday, and this affects the tool. We have created a workaround for now, so go ahead and retry if it works.
Let us know how it goes.
Thanks, and keep moving forward!