Navigating Uncharted Journeys through Values
Contemporaneous notes from the fourth speaker session at the MODEM Conference 2022.
Jackie Le Fevre speaking about core/sacred values – values that you just can’t go against. Discovered this when submitting a project for a degree, and couldn’t bring herself to break one of her core values (do you need to kill animals to study zoology??)
Worked in nature conservation – found her way in through trying a different route in (turning up at a small zoo and asking to working for free). But ended up questioning why when conservation situation was so bad, weren’t people responding? So started working with people, trying to understand them. Was introduced to a values instrument, which was a game changer. Values are meaning making, making sense of our past, our story, and using the past as a guide to the future.
Labelling values can be a problem when they restrict or bound things, but are necessary if we want to transmit them on to others. Human beings are social creatures, and are wired to connect. So we present a version of ourselves that enables that connection. We share values that we think are socially desirable. And we may list our values without offering a definition of them, which leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding. (e.g. trying to define ‘fairness’ – highly subjective as to what is fair)
Values sit within limbic region of the brain, a region without language, but where emotions, affects, feelings sit, and is how we relate to others. We feel them hierarchical, and ordered. This, then that. From core values to less important. And definitions help us communicate and share them. Eg. ‘respect’ – is this a contingent respect, depending on characteristics of the other, or unconditional respect, holding the other in high regard as a human being. Individual values can be quite amorphous in their natural state, and breach of our core values can trigger a strong emotional response within us.
ARAS – Ascending Reticular Activating System. System within the brain that filters information from ears and eyes before entering the amygdalae and the rest of the brain. We notice the things that are relevant to us in our lives, and don’t notice other things. So then we are able to ask the question, what am I not noticing? What is there that is different here? So a variety of values within an organisation allows the organisation to notice what’s being missed by any one individual.
(Amygdalae notice novelty, then assigns a stimulus to either ‘interesting’ or ‘danger’ pathways within the brain – if we know this is what works within us, we can choose ‘interest’ rather than ‘danger’)
Two models of values – Schwartz & Hall-Tonna.
Hall-Tonna Inventory: Energy laden language – ideas that seem to cut through. Values seem to sit in clusters which sit in a ladder – from top down: Safety -> Security -> Belonging -> Organisation -> Service -> Emerging Order -> Wisdom -> Global Transformation.
The clusters can pair to form worldviews – from Alien (Safety/Security) – Family (Security/Belonging) – Organisation (Belonging/Organisation) – Actualisation (Organisation/Service) – Collaborative project (Service/Emerging Order) – Symbiotic System (Emerging Order/Wisdom) – Global (Wisdom/Global Transformation)
Schwartz circle of values. Opposite values on the circle are mutually exclusive. Can’t force people across the circle, but can talk/walk people around the circle to help them understand other people, and other people’s behaviour and worldview.
Values are universal – everyone has them, even though they may not be able to express them. Story telling can help locate them and talk about values.
Values are a navigational aid that helps us make an uncharted journey into the future as social creatures together.