It’s not an unfamiliar word. Like, at all. There’s no way to go through life without hearing the word values. But, full transparency, I never truly thought about what it actually means until I read (um, listened to) “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown.

Until recently, values to me just meant things I believe in, things that are important to me. How to treat people. Don’t steal. Don’t be mean. Do the right thing.

Not even close. It’s way more specific than that. So specific, in fact, that I’m almost positive the ones I have aligned with and chosen to “live into” may change with the seasons of my life. Or at the very least, morph into newer and more updated versions of the original. But this exercise has been fruitful for me. To really evaluate what matters and how those things should impact how I treat myself and others – how I lead. Most importantly, I’ve come to understand that the values I’m about to share and explore with you are a work in progress in my life. I can’t live them out perfectly all the time with everyone. So for starters, if you choose to go down this path, give yourself permission to flop. Because you will. Just commit to practicing – values are a thing you align with and then practice. Every. Day.

You ready? Start here. And know that if you are planning on having “work values” and “real life values” as separate entities, you have to start over. The first part of this process is knowing that you are you no matter where you are.

Next step is to narrow it down. The linked list above has 100 values on it! It’s slightly overwhelming and may require several rounds of narrowing. Keep in mind, too, that some words/values that resonate with you may fit nicely together in a sweet package allowing you to cheat a little if there are some you just can’t overlook. End goal? Shoot for two.

So many considerations and situations were swarming around my brain when I began this process. Experiences in my career, both good and bad. My life as a mother. What I want to communicate to and accomplish with my son. Relationships I’ve had, and maybe still have – where I have been the jerk or been jerked on by someone else. Church life. Home life. What I want and who I want to be in the future. It’s all in here. In the two little words I’m about to break down.

Courage:

The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.

That quality of mind which enables one to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits; valor; boldness; bravery; spirit; daring; resolution.

Authenticity:

The quality or condition of being authentic, trustworthy, or genuine.

Genuineness; the quality of being genuine or not corrupted from the original.

Truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, and intentions.

Courage for me personally is not living life without fear – it’s living life in spite of fear. This journey we are on is hard. And sometimes? Incredible amounts of fear, maybe even terror, show up and you have got to know who you are and how to get to the other side. That’s when courage is so essential. It’s owning the fear and stepping through it bravely – knowing that making the right choices, the hard choices will bring you to the other side of challenges with confidence and Hope in what’s to come.

Courage for me is also stepping outside of my comfort zone with the intent to learn, understand and/or grow. The courage to be curious and ask questions. The courage to be vulnerable and connect with people on a deeper level. The courage to listen to and accept feedback. The courage to think independently. The courage to stand up for what is Good and Right and True. Not all of these comes easily or naturally to me, but I’m committed to them.

My desire to live into authenticity stems from my passion to find the truth in all things. I strive to know myself fully so that the person I present to the world is aligned with the person I wake up with every morning. (That’s me.) Not to be predictable in a boring sense, but that I can be counted on by myself and others.

Authenticity to me is knowing who I am, what I believe and why – so that my words and actions speak directly to my character. I have experienced so often in my life people who are tragically unresolved for fear that what they think or feel may differ from those they accompany. They fear exclusion. They desperately want to belong. Personally, I choose to be true to who I am in order to find acceptance and love. Genuine connection only comes when two people are completely honest with themselves and each other.

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

― Brené Brown

I set out to read some books about leadership. To learn some hacks to pass onto my readers and clients. To get some ideas for content. But what I took away was a new vision for my life. A new perspective on what it means to have and hold values. To own them, make them mine, live them out – knowing that when I don’t live up to them, I can just keep practicing.