Part of the Explore your Why – 9 part series
During my several trips to Kenya, there was one staple, a missionary couple, Lois and Dr Mark Shaw. Lois has a Masters degree in communications and the founder of Africa by Design Safaris. Mark has a Doctorate and Masters in Theology and is a professor at the African International University. For well over two decades, Lois and Mark have raised their family in Kenya and became part of the African International University community. Lois first went to Kenya because of her husband’s career aspirations but soon became enthralled with the Kenyan women. Her role moved from supporter to African ambassador.
There were many hours spent with Lois and Mark discussing topics that I had little knowledge, such as divinity, university life, and the Kenyan culture. Of all the conversations we had, the one that was life-altering was also the topic I had the most knowledge of – values.
Sitting over dinner, Lois and Mark advised me of the importance of a husband and wife creating family values and a collective life mission. This commitment to their values and mission helped them stay connected over twenty-five years while they continuously relocated between Kenya and Virginia. When making a decision, they would revisit the family values and mission to guide them.
I live, teach and breath values in my work, but it was Lois and Mark’s suggestion that prompted my husband, Mike and me to discuss what we value in our marriage. Some of those core values included love, loyalty, adventure, connecting, caring, inclusivity, personal growth, contribution, and having enough money to sustain them. We then created a collective mission. Although our mission has changed over the years, at the time we had that conversation, I had no idea the extent of the exercise’s potential impact. When we were deciding if we were going to sell our home and most of its contents, then go interview women pioneers in Africa, those values and the mission guided that decision.
Likely, the most influential element of realising your purpose and deciding how you will contribute to society and to whom will be dictated by your values. Values are your moral compass, guiding you to make decisions from the smallest to the most life-altering.
Values are composed of your ethical standards, religious beliefs, and personal values. Two people can hold the same ethical standards and religious beliefs and yet have very different personal values. You choose your ethical standards and religious beliefs; your personal values choose you.
Your authentic self is a combination of those values lived and at what intensity. For example, you may value transparency and privacy. When presented with a situation where being forthcoming may be received as interfering in someone’s personal life, you will need to decide which value has more influence over your actions.
Your experiences also formulate values; in turn, one value may direct your life course.
Bience Gawanas is a former African Union commissioner. Her value directed her life course for participation. She involved herself in politics because she grew up in South West Africa, which in 1990 became Namibia. During apartheid, she couldn’t stand on the sidelines. She felt it was her responsibility to be visible and, as a result, she was one of the few young women who got up on a public platform to protest. Although unaware of where this sense of obligation stemmed from, she believes, “When you are stuck in a corner, you will get yourself out of that corner.” Because of Bience’s values of participation, she took responsibility upon herself to contribute to society in line with her purpose. Her legacy will live on.
Becoming fully aware of the values that you now exercise consciously or subconsciously will guide your actions and help define your purpose. The list of values is vast. Some values that may guide you include:
|fulfillment||using talents||financial security||Vitality|
|uniqueness||entrepreneurship||doing the right thing||Feel good|
…or the YouMeWe guiding values of consistent, conscious, contributions, care, collaboration, courage, empowerment and inclusivity.
Your values will guide you in designing your purpose, and therefore your conscious contributions™ that will lead tomorrow’s legacy today.
Next in the Explore your Why series, we will share how to empower our purpose with passion.
Until next time, make your contributions count!
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Suzanne F. Stevens, CSP, Conscious Contributor™ Cultivator
Social entrepreneur |International Speaker | Pioneer | Host | Philanthropist | Author
#YouMeWe Group of Initiatives | Cultivate, Celebrate, Co-create conscious-contributions™
Book launch coming soon: YouMeWe: lead tomorrow’s legacy today
2017 National President: Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS)
Awards: TIAW World of Difference Recipient for women economic empowering
Accreditation: Suzanne is one of 65 Certified Speaking Professionals (CSP) in Canada and is in the exclusive 15% of speakers who have this designation internationally.