Although throughout my professional career I have heard companies and organisations talking about values, missions and visions, I never considered how these might apply to me personally. I know, its a shocking confession for a professional (motivational) speaker and certainly for a futurist. But over the last few years I have started to explore this topic and to develop an understanding of what my values are.
Being a little analytical, I started with a list of *all* the values that I could find. I categorised them. I acknowledge how each of the categories was important but then ranked which resonated with me personally. Eventually I came to a list of 5, three of which I want to share as to how they reflect in my work.
It is an unusual item for a value statement and depending on who you talk to, its either a cliched phrase or something relatively unknown. Agency, or personal agency, refers to the freedom and capacity that an individual has to act independently without being controlled. Someone who is being micro-managed does not experience agency. Having to seek permission for small decisions or working under conditions of high control and comprehensive rules, rules out agency.
Someone has agency when they can make decisions about their actions and accept the consequences of those actions. I’m not talking about mutiny or rebellion and I’m not referring to people chasing their own alternative facts. But a person who wants agency is not being subjected to forces that could conceivably be within their control.
When I discovered this value in my own list, I looked back at my work, my life and my parenting to see if there was evidence.
My daughters had certain boundaries that they had to operate within, especially when they were young. But as they grew and looked forward to their years post school, I knew that the more I limited their actions, the less prepared they would be for life away from the safety of their parents’ homes. I gave them increasing agency over decisions about their personal lives over the years. It didn’t always go well, but they have turned out to incredibly responsible, self-aware and mature young people.
When it comes to the work I do, I don’t want to be seen as a ‘guru’. My approach as a guide in futures thinking, is to pass on the tools, the understanding and the encouragement for delegates and clients to become their own guides in their own circle of influence.
Alchemy is the ancient pro-science methodology of attempting to transmute one element into another. Of course we know about the alchemists trying to turn lead into gold but there was a great deal more to their exploration and experimentation than only the potential financial reward. Alchemists also considered how to purify their souls and become more spiritual.
Essentially alchemy is a little science, a little experimentation, a mixing of elements and catalysts, perhaps a tiny touch of magic all in the attempt to take one thing and turn it into something else.
I call myself a ‘Futures Alchemist’ because when I work with a client or an audience, we are working together, using a little science (the futures models that I use) and a little experimentation mixing the elements (the client’s industry knowledge and expertise) and catalysts (my work and experience) and perhaps a touch of magic (intention, curiosity and creativity) all in an attempt to take insight about an industry or company and help them to evolve into an organisation that is future fit.
The thing about values is that we have different ones. Not everyone wants to be transcendent. Many people are very happy with enjoying their lives and doing good work and loving and being loved.
But I want to explore, both personally and professionally, what it means to ‘go beyond’. I like to challenge ideas of unexamined beliefs, unexplored values and unquestioned rules. We have such incredible capacity as humans to be innovative, creative and extraordinary, but we too often shackle ourselves and prevent that expression of our creative potential.
In my life I explore agency, alchemy and transcendence in every day things, in my memories of the past and my hopes for the future.
And in my work, I help organisations to transcend the limits of their current realities by creating alchemy that can map a new future for them, and help their teams embody the agency to be the creators of that future.
Have a look on the Values page for a downloadable document to establish your own values.