Using Your Core Values to Find Your Niche

I’m an expert at complicating things, particularly if they’re to do with my inner world!  And I’ve found one of the reasons that causes me to take this route.  Taking myself too seriously!

For instance, I’ve been working really hard (there’s a sign that something’s amiss!) at finding a simple way of describing how I can help people through coaching.  Everyone (I know, this is a major generalisation!) says that it’s best to have a niche.  And this niche is best described so that it addresses either a problem a potential client has or a solution s/he wants.

Along the way I listened to various marketing experts, and by the end of it all I had so many things to consider, including Cialdini’s 6 principles of influence – reciprocity, consistency/commitment, authority, social validation, scarcity and liking.  Oh yes, and James Lavers’ 6 principles of Distance Persuasion to this – belonging, envy/emulation, ownership, significance, status and validation (go to to find out more).  Then add onto this my beliefs etc about how I need to be in relation to this all – and in comes taking myself too seriously!

However, after struggling for over a year, it just fell into place.  Just in case you want to know the words, they are that I want to help individuals and organisations make work an enjoyable and satisfying experience!

And what helped it fall into place?  First of all, reminding myself to lighten up!  This fits with one of my core values, happiness.  Within this value I include fun and enjoyment.  So this helped me live this value more truly.  Then I played on another core value, well-being, which includes openness.  For me to be open I still my mind and let my intuition come to the fore (another part of well-being).  I asked myself “what is the common theme in my work with people and organisations?” and up popped the thought “well you want people to be happy at work”.

Now within positive psychology research indicates that happiness is made up of four components (I thank Lucy Ryan for this information from

pleasure (the fun stuff in life, emotional, delight, momentary)

passion (engaging activities, in flow, fully absorbed, challenging)

purpose (meaning beyond self, gives you fulfilment, bigger picture)

people (relationships that nourish, interest and fulfil you, giving and nurturing friendships, people you love who love you back)

I believe this summarises what I want work to be for everyone.  However, not everyone would know about these components – hence replacing the word ‘happy’ to give a bit more clarity yet still simply stated.

For a person who espouses living your values, I was a bit slow on the uptake to use my own!  This is just proof that strengths and core values are NOT interchangeable!  And I’m finding new ways all the time.



Practical Application of Values when Creating Website

Sometimes I get asked what practicality living your values have.  So I thought I’d give an example – or, if I wanted to use more business-like terms, a case study.

During one of the workshops I’ve recently run on living your values in business, one person gained insight on what to do with her website.  She had already started creating her website.  However, she knew it wasn’t quite sitting right.  During the workshop, the participants followed a process which led to them not only working out what their 4 to 6 core values were, but also how the other values that were important to them supported/interacted with these core values.

They were then encouraged to consider how their new-found awareness about their values might help them in a recent/current work-related situation.  This particular person suddenly appreciated that a key purpose of her website is to start the process of helping people to trust her.  So far her coaching clients have been referred to her by strong recommendation or already knew her – in other words, they already had a strong base of trust.  People meeting her for the first time on her website wouldn’t have that background knowledge.  So obvious, yet it hadn’t struck her until working with her values.

Through discussion she started to work out how this could be accomplished – e.g. through showing her own fallibility and include examples of her own mistakes,  describing her own experience of using the same process and giving examples of the results achieved with past clients.  This openness not only would help people to get to know her as a whole being but also it fitted in with her values!  Great result eh?!

When she first started drafting her website she had assumed she had to show how good she was.  Now she recognises the value of  demonstrating her humanity within it all.

How can your own core values support you with one of your work situations?

2 Spades: Abundance, Affluence, Beauty, Prosperity, Wealth

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and so are abundance, affluence, prosperity and wealth!

When considering any of these as a possible core value, with the exception possibly of beauty, money certainly comes to my mind!  However, all of them are more than they may first appear.

You may, for instance, value a wealth of beauty  – what impact could that have on your life?  It may:

  • influence what career you choose e.g. architect, beautician, environmentalist;
  • have an impact on your relationships e.g. you may think it is important that your partner has classic beauty and makes an effort to keep it so (as you may also do);
  • mean you want to buy the best because that is your interpretation of beauty (this may be for a large investment – such as a car – or every day items like food);
  • influence what holidays you want, going to places that are beautiful as far as you are concerned, preferring to wait until you can afford to go than to compromise.

Having said money comes to mind for all except beauty, I then give an example where money is pertinent to beauty!

As you may have already noticed, when making any of these words core values, the consequences will vary according to the situations as well as to how they are interpreted.  So, for example, some people may consider being prosperous as having a lifestyle that costs around £50,000 per annum.  While for others it would be £500,000 per annum!  Both are valid.

One thing is for certain, when setting up any core values that other people need to demonstrate, it is important to be clear what behaviours etc are associated with each core value.  And that those people are involved in discussions about such detail.  This way they are far more likely to commit to the behaviours.

Here’s a personal example.  When I was reviewing my core values, I found that one core value, ‘well-being‘, included the presence of confidence, courage, flow, hope, optimism, intuition, meaningfulness, openness and curiosity.

If you had asked me what ‘well-being’ involved beforehand I suspect I wouldn’t have mentioned most of what I’ve described!  Words like physical and mental health would have come to mind.  Now when I compare the two, I can appreciate that my mental health is linked to many of the words I’ve used – e.g. the presence of confidence, optimism and curiosity.  These words give a much clearer picture what ‘well-being’ is for me.

What about you?

Values in Business

“So what relevance do values have in business?” you may well ask. Apart from the obvious ethical practices within business, they have lots of relevance to the performance – and health – of both the business and its employees.

But you know this already, don’t you? And yet I wonder how much your core values influence how you are in the work you do? And how much do you encourage not only yourself but also others to work within their personal values? I know that despite knowing how supportive they are, I don’t make the most of them.

So what stops us living our values at work perfectly?
There are two sources – one is outside and one inside of us.

Let’s consider the external source first. There are various ways the external world impacts us …

  1. We’re told to work in a particular way: for instance, we may be told to never admit the organisation is in the wrong even though it may be, or that you have to work unpaid overtime even though your family life matters to you
  2. ‘This is the way things are done here’ (even though it may be contrary to avowed culture, written procedures etc): for example, cutting corners, or doing what’s good for the company and to the detriment of their customers, or taking business pens and paper to use personally at home or using work time on personal matters without permission
  3. Working within the organisation’s values: It’s fair enough that organisations have core values, which they want demonstrated in what and how work is achieved. But what happens if they become or are in conflict with your own personal values? What then? I suspect it depends how much of a compromise you have to make.

Now what about the internal source? Well …

  1. We’re great in demonstrating certain aspects of our core values, but not others: now I’m not going to repeat my capability to trust my husband on the big things but not on the little things (OK, I’ve just done it!). Another example is intuition. I know people who are great at using their intuition on small things – like bringing some bread to a friend’s picnic even though they’ve not been asked to, and then finding that the friend had forgotten to pack theirs! Yet they are very wary to trust it for the big/serious matters in their life, such as a job offer. Logically, it appears to ‘tick all the boxes’ and yet they have a felt-sense it’s not right. However, they accept the job and then find it isn’t what they expected.
  2. We’re great at demonstrating our core values in certain parts of our life, but not in others, even though we want to: so, another person I know has ‘well-being’ as one of her values. She’s really good at making sure she has a great balance between work and the rest of her life, but boy does she struggle with eating a balanced diet and the right quantity for her lifestyle! And she knows she is not living her value of ‘well-being’ for herself through this behaviour.
  3. We want others to demonstrate our core values, but don’t practise them ourselves (or only very intermittently!): for instance, ‘respect’ is a core value for one client in relation to communication. After a particular discussion about an example of conversation she gave, she recognised that she was demanding respect from others but not showing it herself. She hadn’t noticed this beforehand. Now she is committed to demonstrating respect in the way she speaks and hoping this will inspire reciprocation over time.
  4. We need to practise our values: So for this client I mentioned in point 2, it took her a bit of time first to notice when she wasn’t speaking respectfully and then learning how to speak from a place of respect. For another person, they had a core value for the rest of their life and realised they wanted to bring it into their work. It was ‘love’. And it took time to find out how they wanted to demonstrate this value at work and in their work.
  5. It isn’t always appropriate to demonstrate particular values: going back to trust, it is appropriate to not trust certain people or situations, for physical and/or psychological safety reasons. When I was working with one person (developing a metaphor for one of her values, frankness) she recognised for the first time that her frankness will be best used when she selects the appropriate situations. Timing matters.

You may be wondering why on earth we want to live our values when all this is in our way. Well, because of what living your values gives you, even when not lived perfectly! Here are some of the gifts: strength of purpose, solid foundations of confidence and self-esteem, energy, enjoyment, power, improved performance at work with less ‘trying hard’ or ‘working hard’ … and more.

So there you are! I’d love to know your thoughts/experiences of living your values. What have you gained from it – and what other internal and/or external sources do you recognise that make it difficult to live your values. DO tell me.

All the best


P.S. If you want to know more about living your values in business,


Living Your Values in Business

What you’ll gain from this event will be:

clarity about what core values are important to you in business,
• a deeper understanding about how your core values shape you – how you think, speak, observer, hear, feel and behave,
• a stronger appreciation what this can mean to you at work,
time to think about you in business, and
one particular commitment you make that will enhance you in business through the application of your core values.

And you’ll leave the session renewed, re-energised and may be even with new friends!

This is an interactive event – there’ll be some background information given, followed by a series of activities that help you gain the clarity, understanding etc mentioned above.

All this for £20 (inc VAT)!

This event takes place …
on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 starting at 7.00 pm and finishing at 9.30 pm
at Mortimer Room, Old Market, Nailsworth, Glos GL6 0DU
BOOK NOW!  Contact me, Helen Harrison, on 01453-835263, mobile 07710-124321 or