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Foundation Values Exercise

Watch the accompanying video at:

Our program FABS for Resilient Leadership and Life has four key components, which are:

· Foundation

· Aspiration

· Beliefs

· Self-care.

Together these form the path to resilience and create an environment for you to personify "Life Live Full," both in your professional and personal lives.

Foundation is the root that holds you steady at all times, especially when faced with a crisis. It is what you stand on daily in your professional work, in all interactions, and how you live every day.

Your foundation comprises three areas; principles, values, and people (family, friends, coworkers, etc.). Just like your home needs a solid foundation to stay standing and steady, these areas help you stay standing and secure.

This course focuses on developing internal self-awareness about your values to build a solid personal foundation to help ensure there are no cracks, mold, or lopsided features as you move through life.

Many people would say their principles are their values. For the sake of this exercise, we will separate principles and values by defining principles as the general non-negotiables in life that are permanent and unchanging. Some would say these are universal, but an individuals' principles may differ based upon their belief and upbringing in reality. Your principles are based on your belief system and are typically difficult to change. Your society normally accepts these principles too; for example, adultery is not acceptable in most, but not all, cultures.

People will often state their values in a few descriptive words: respect, honesty, and service.

These are fantastic value words but are not specific enough to provide you with a solid foundation when the going gets tough. Foundation value(s) allow you to tap into your resilience, make decisions or reflect on how you are showing up in your daily interactions with others.

In truth, a value is neither inherently right nor wrong, but your perspective makes up you and is your azimuth when making choices on how you live and interact with others. They are often personally non-negotiable.

It may be possible to look in hindsight to see where you were in or out of alignment with your values in past jobs, interactions, or decisions and how this alignment impacted the outcome.

Bottom line, having statement(s) or phrase(s) about how you want to live and others to experience your values self-awareness, and this self-awareness will allow you to be as you intend.

Follows is one method that can aid your foundation values discovery that will hold you steadfast in the face of difficulties, help you as you interact with others, and make the right choices for yourself.


Materials needed: 8 pieces of paper, pen, 3 to 5 different color markers, pens, or pencils.

Step One:


· Get six separate pieces of paper to answer each of the following questions.

· Write what comes to mind quickly, and then over a few days, add more responses until you have exhausted your ideas. Try to have more than five responses for each question to derive your themes.

· Leave the left or right margin empty for Step Two.

1. What energizes you? Think about activities, people, places where you were focused and involved. This can be work, hobbies, people, or something else. As you list what energizes you, add details to explain why it energizes you.

For example, it is helping another person with a personal problem. Learning about another person, problem-solving, putting pieces of a puzzle together, and positive outcomes are details that make it energizing and enjoyable.

2. What has been your best work? This can be a hobby, personal project, or professional work. As you list your best work, add details that allowed it to be your best work.

For example, painting a complicated beach scene. Allows for quiet time and taps into creativity to bring something to life from nothing.

3. What advice and qualities do others come to you?

For example, people share their problems because they aren't afraid of being judged.

4. What tasks do you dislike to do and why?

For example, fine-tuning PowerPoint slides after the big ideas have been discussed.

5. What examples of behaviors in others have you found personally challenging? Why is it challenging?

For example, being spoken to in a derogatory manner or raised voice shows a lack of kindness.

6. There is an insurance commercial that highlights six words people want to be remembered or experienced by (you can watch this Highmark video at · ). What would you want others to say about you? Make this a short five to a ten-word phrase of a tribute, not a list of attributes.

For example, "Listened with heart and kindness."

Step two:


· Write down the different themes in the margin as you read your responses on each page.

· When choosing our keywords/phrases for questions 4 and 5, consider the opposite and write the opposite down.

For example, your keyword might be kind if the quality belittles others in questions 4 or 5.

Step three:


· Write down all your themes in one list on the seventh piece of paper—group keywords together. You can either circle them by color or write them in groups in columns. It is okay if one keyword ends up aligning to more than one group.

Step four:


Write down the groupings of keywords, themes, and phrases; usually, you will have 3 to 6 groups.

Step five:


Brainstorm 2 to 5-word phrases that capture the theme of each grouping to become your draft value statement. You will have one statement per group. Over time you will fine-tune these and may see only one or two of them really stick and the others drop away.

For example, keywords People, Problems, Solutions, Care may become the value phrase "Care for others from my heart."

Step five's process is quick and your gut response; over time, you will come back to this and refine it to fit your needs and see if it can hold as a value in action.

Step six:


Check your value against these two questions to see if they will hold when tested against decisions you may need to make and how you show up as a leader and a person.

1. Does the value provide you a measure regarding your actions (and the action of others)?

For example, showing up irritated to my coworker is out of alignment with my value to care for others from my heart. The action was out of alignment with the value statement, and action needs to occur to remedy the circumstance.

2. Can I decide on an issue utilizing my value statement?

For example, an individual needs special consideration for a family issue. The consideration is outside the norm but won't impact the work. The value of care for others from my heart will allow me to consider the particular request because it is a positive outcome for the individual and doesn't adversely impact others.



As you make decisions and reflect on your actions, which phrases do you often utilize to check in with yourself? This time of reflection allows you to refine your values or adjust your actions and decisions to bring what you intend to be in your life alive.

Please email me or call me if you have any questions or would like to explore your Foundation Values or other aspects to build resiliency in your life.

Melinda Grafton


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