Voicing Your Values: The Key To A Successful Partnership
Updated: Feb 20
How Learning To Prioritize Yourself Will Benefit Your Business Long Term
Article by Shawna Bigby Davis
Hello #hustler. I’ve created a worksheet and video especially to support you in this exercise. To download the worksheet and view the training you'll be directed to my website. I promise you’ll be using this training and exercise in your business and life quite a bit! – Shawna
Do you know what makes you tick, and what ticks you off? How about the other person in the relationship?
Ah, clarity. There are a lot of assumptions when we enter into a relationship. We usually—subconsciously—let our social niceties, context, economic constraints, and status guide us. There’s a lot left unsaid and left to “chemistry” and being in the “flow” when we work with people. We usually figure it out as we go, voicing our likes and dislikes and picking up on unsaid cues throughout each interaction. But are you on the same page, really?
In business partnerships, it’s especially important to know and share both your value set AND expected roles and responsibilities with all parties involved. Exercises like these help alleviate assumptions and highlight expectations for everyone. This helps you avoid double work, wasted energy, fights, frustration, hurt feelings and avoid one of the biggest pitfalls of business: blind spots.
If you value family but work 70 hours a week, are you in alignment with your values? What if your partner does not value family? How will you make it work where one does not harbor resentment over the other?
A value set framework is a powerful tool for decision making. This is not a branding exercise. This is a leadership tool for you to stay true to yourself and who you are at your core, even when things get messy and overwhelming (and they will!).
Death by a 1,000 Cuts
Some of life's decisions are really about determining what you value most. When many options seem reasonable, it's helpful and comforting to rely on your values. When you’re working with other strong, but differing opinions, it’s important to know what you’re willing to sway on and what you’ll hold steadfast and strong to protect.
When we move away from our core value set to accommodate someone else, it initially feels like a paper cut. Sharp and noticeable, but no one really got hurt. By the time you hit 1,000 of these, you’ll feel like you’re bleeding out and like you lost your way somewhere.
Establishing your own personal guidelines can help you stay healthy mentally and emotionally because you are your greatest asset. Period.
"Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny." –Ghandi
Creating, and Articulating your North Star Value Set
You are unique in your make-up and your upbringing. You might have cultural experiences that have defined how you handle confrontation and conflict. As a woman, you are most likely an empath. Women have learned to acquiesce and defer as part of social politeness. It’s an expensive habit we have to unlearn and reframe. If we ignore our value set and our true internal compass, it can lead to suppressed frustrations that come spilling out—usually at the most inopportune times because we’re redlining with lack of sleep, chronic stress, and an emotional hot button that keeps getting pushed. It’s how women often get labeled as “emotional” or “irrational.” Founded or unfounded, let’s not go there, shall we?
This is an exercise for you to know yourself better. It’s not a requirement to share, however when all parties at the table are transparent, it adds a significant understanding of how the working style could be arranged.
Write down what you stand for in your core.
In your being. What drives you?
Boil this down to 3-5 words Examples: Honesty, Connection, Collaboration, Enlightenment
For each word ask “why” as if you were a two-year-old on a truth expedition. You’re going to drill down on the “why” quite a few times. Once you feel you cannot go any further with your “why” questioning, ask “what do I believe?”
Why? I detest when someone lies.
Why? I believe most people have an agenda.
Why? I saw it happen to my parents and it’s been true my whole life after that.
What do I believe? People should be honest and transparent in their needs and wants with each other.
Why? We are all energetic beings and need connection.
Why? Because we’re all the same. The differences are invented and imagined to suppress.
What do I believe? When we connect we see someone for who they really are, not a stereotype.
So, how do we use our values Honesty and Connection then?
Say you’re setting up a new business model and it’s suggested that you create a hierarchy and class divide with your price points. Is this in-line with your North Star? Does it serve your core value of Connection? Now, let’s look at the other values.
What if you use transparency and honesty about why you’re offering the new tiers? Is it to serve a smaller segment better? Is it to offer a lower price-point to reach a greater audience? If you told your customers clearly and plainly, is that within your core value of Honesty? If none of those are true and it’s just to serve a business model, how do you really feel about it?
STEP 2: What sets you off? What are your triggers?
Write down the top 3-5
Examples: Being talked over. Someone re-doing your work. Someone not doing their portion of the work. The seat left up in the toilet.
Now, write what the commonality or theme is here. Is it being disrespected? Take a look and identify what it all boils down to for you.
What qualities do you admire and want to embody, but have not fully mastered yet?
Examples: Leadership, listening, patience, confidence, etc.
Next, write HOW you will obtain those qualities. Is it a mentor, networking, joining a professional group, classes, seminars? Your brain is a very powerful problem-solving machine. Once you set out a task it will look for the shortest ways to obtain that goal.
What are your biggest fears?
Examples: Failure, looking stupid, getting called out, etc.
I love this one because we often are afraid to tell another person our fears, but they already know our fears just by hanging out with us. They see each one like a Christmas tree ornament hanging and sparkling for all to see, and yet we’re totally blind to them. We imagine that if we don’t admit them, no one can see them.
Get comfortable with your fears. Write them down. Look them in the face, one by one. Your two new acronyms for life are:
FEAR: Face Everything and Rise FAIL: First Attempt in Learning
As a business and health coach, I also find for leaders it’s important to get over the feeling of imposter syndrome and a helpful companion exercise is to make three columns and write:
Your accomplishments, how they made you feel, how you got there.
Made me feel successful, full of pride for myself and my family
Determination, dedication, being smart
What you learn from this list is actually how much you’ve accomplished in life. It’s more meaningful than you might give yourself credit for. You also can pinpoint the feeling when accomplishing your goals and celebrate yourself. That becomes important as you create new goals for yourself and business. Lastly, this is the most important one – you identify what it took to obtain that goal. So, next time you start a litany of self-beat up for a small slip up and calling yourself a terrible name, you can open your notebook and reflect, “Just how did I graduate? Right–I was determined, dedicated, and smart.”
Creating Lasting Progress
Trust when I say the North Star and Roles and Responsibilities exercises should be non-negotiable. You’ll find these maybe the most important exercises in creating a beautiful, healthy company and culture. As your definition of success changes, so do your personal values. Your values may adjust and develop over time just as you do, so embrace the change.
Lasting progress in any area takes time, but the effort will be worth it. When you apply these strategies to your own life and start #winning at this work-partnership thing, the immediate and lasting benefits of prioritizing your values will be hard to dispute. And remember, if you’d like a set of eyes on your work, I’m offering look-over to the Women Founders Network. I’ll see you there, and don’t be shy---I can’t wait to hear all about your experience!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A 20-year veteran in branding and business development, Shawna Bigby Davis is a successful serial entrepreneur, Health Conscious Business Coach and proud Strategic Advisor of the Women Founders Network. After an extensive career lending her advertising and design skills to high caliber brands like Nissan, Nike, and Coca Cola for the largest advertising agencies in the world, Shawna co-founded and bootstrapped her own agency creating campaigns and digital products for clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Having recovered from burnout and multiple autoimmune issues naturally; Shawna is passionate about helping other women thrive personally and professionally, by guiding them toward harmony and health in the life they want to create. Learn more about her How to Build without Burnout courses and group coaching Wellthy Woman Mastermind.
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