In this life, there are as many ways to achieve success as there are definitions of success. For some, being able to freely spend money without thinking about getting into trouble is what success in life means. For others, it’s having a loving family and a few close friends. For others, it’s experiencing the world: mixing up with other cultures, visiting places, etc.
What I find common and crucial in achieving success in life, whatever your definition of success is, is having the ability to build relationships.
You can make money, you can have close friends, you can visit places, but if you’re not highly capable of building good relationships, non of what you do will be sustainable. You’ll find yourself starting from the beginning over and over again until you get tired and lose inspiration.
To be highly successful in life, there are some skills and traits required that will allow you to put in the work necessary for you to achieve what you want. But these traits alone will not lead to the desired results if you’re not capable of building fulfilling relationships.
I’ve met so many people that agree they struggle to find fulfillment in relationships: family, friends, work, even in their romantic relationships. They make it sound like there’s only one alternative: being alone. But the thing is, there’s another alternative: find the right people to be with and the right place to be in. Find your preferred career, your true interests, and preferences. Don’t just work for the sake of doing a job, or do things for the sake of doing things. What this leads to is, sooner or later, you lose interest in that which you thought you loved. But the truth is, your interest was circumstantial in the first place, not personal. If you lack self-knowledge and you’re not certain what your core values are, you’re obviously going to attract the wrong people, be in the wrong place, do the wrong things, and not find satisfaction and fulfillment in what you do.
After experiencing some bullying in school, and witnessing other kids getting bullied, and seeing emotionally unstable and vulnerable kids struggling to keep up, I kept asking myself and a few professionals (teachers) why is something not being done. Why is emotional intelligence course not part of the syllabus? The closest to a satisfying answer I got was that it was. Emotional intelligence and social intelligence are being indirectly thought in schools by helping kids interact and telling them how the right way to behave is in every situation. But is this enough?
In the non-communist western world, I’d expect individuality to be encouraged. Some people clearly have a different set of core values than other people. Some people value kindness more, some value safety more. Or responsibility. In my opinion, teaching more about individual differences, and helping kids find what’s most important to them might help them make better life decisions. Knowing your core values will help you know how to act and react better in any situation you find yourself in. It’ll also tell you which situations you should avoid if possible, without feeling guilty or incapable.
Of course, it’s important to know how to do things that don’t come naturally to you, but trying to act according to alien core values is like Einstein said: judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree will make the fish feel stupid.
If kindness is your core value, you probably wouldn’t find it nice and productive to be a pirate. If you’d really like to be a pirate, go be a freshwater pirate then and leave the rough, merciless, deep-sea alone. The conditions will be less harsh for you in the rivers, you’ll find more kindness there. If integrity and logical reasoning are your core values, you probably don’t want to be a preschool teacher, where playfulness and artistic creativity would be best for the kids.
I believe the importance of core values is underestimated. Our lives would be easier and better if we knew and act according to our core values. There’s nothing better in life than having our hearts and heads in the right place.
We all agree to “be with people that like you for who you are.”, But… who are you, really? How do you manifest who you truly are and show your close ones what to love?
For example, I’m honest. I say what I need to say even if that makes me lose what I want. Because who I am is more important than what I want. This is a pure display of integrity.
I’m open to making changes, acquiring more qualities, and evolving as I grow older, but it’s not based on a single need or a random situation that wouldn’t last. When I finally developed the MB core value model, I reassessed my relationships, past and present; successful ones, and failed ones… And I made a not-so-surprising discovery. All my successful close relationships had one thing in common: they didn’t make me feel like any of my top three core values were violated. So I couldn’t help but wonder if this is the key to a successful and satisfying relationship.
Of course, the success of using the MB core value assessment to build better relationships depends directly on your ability to respect other people’s core values. But ultimately, what matters most is mutual acceptance.
Finding your core values doesn’t necessarily mean you must find a person who shares your core values, no. They say opposites attract. I find this to be true in this case. Although kindness or enjoyment is not in my top three core values, I highly appreciate and I’m very drawn to kind people (some people get bored by kindness). Not having kindness as my top three core values don’t mean I value kindness any less, it just means it comes more naturally to me to prioritize other things. This makes me — personally — need people that have kindness and a top core value even more.
The important question remains, how can we find our core values?
I’ve taken and studied a few personality traits assessments, and they all give a good insight into how to find your core values, but I haven’t found any that narrowed it down enough. Besides, most of these assessments are based on self-reporting tests, where the observation and self-knowledge of the person taking the test is key to the accuracy of the results.
To narrow it down, I made an overly simplified version of my own, for the sake of practicality.
2020 report MB value model
I use the title “2020 report MB value model” as I got the inspiration from James Clears yearly integrity report. I have tried and tested this core value assessment on myself and a few people who immediately reported feeling much better and relieved now that they know what to care about most.
Core values are what makes you “you,” what your internal moral compass use as a point of reference, I’d say. To find your core values, you have to know about other things you deeply care about and need even if they’re not actually considered a core value. The MB core value model is separated into three sections: basic needs, core values, and preferences.
1. Basic needs: for survival. What do you need to stay alive?
The sight of any free animal going about its business undisturbed, seeking its food, or looking after its young, or mixing in the company of its kindSchopenhauer
The above quote is from Arthur Schopenhauer’s Psychological Observations. Schopenhauer described will as an irrational “blind incessant impulse without knowledge” that drives instinctive behaviors, causing an endless insatiable striving.
What would you instinctively strive for in order to stay alive? Food, water, air, shelter, people, etc?
2. Core values: highlights individuality. What makes you, you?
I once found a cat in the chimney of a very old building. The cat was famished. I got some cat food from the supermarket and offered the food to the cat. The cat didn’t eat. It occurred to me that I should probably break the ice. I slowly got closer to the cat and offered my hand as a sign of peace. Made the cat feel safe. A few minutes later, the food bowl was empty. This cat obviously valued the feeling of safety — probably friendship — over the basic instinct for food. The cat could comfortably eat only after friendship was established. The exact same thing happens to us, humans. When a core value need is not met, we’ll struggle to meet survival needs. Nietzsche said: the will to be is stronger than the will to live. Apparently, it’s true. What makes you, you? Is it your friendliness, your reliability, your integrity?
Make a list and the top three you find non-negotiable are your top core values. You can choose from this list.
3. Preferences: contextual and situational. What makes life fun?
What gives you joy every day? What do you enjoy doing most?
If you have your basic needs met, and you know what your core values are, all that’s left is to do what you love doing, with the people and in situations that don’t make you feel like your core values are being violated. This is how you can build more meaningful and fulfilling relationships.