Compass Points

Our ego is pretty good at coming up with excuses reasons each time. What is it that can help us not reinvent the wheel each time, help us not relearn the same lessons over and over? The answer is awareness, rather than reacting in the moment. Okay, and then what? What are we being aware of? First, we need to be aware of our own principles, what matters to us; our core values. 

These core values are the breadcrumbs that will guide you from point A to point B, loop through C and a hard left at D on your journey. In order to find these breadcrumbs, these compass points, they must be authentic to you and what you value above all else. Finding your real core values takes awareness, honesty, and space. The most effective way to do this is with a coach. If you are eager to make a start, there are tons of ‘core value’ lists online. My personal favorite is Brene Brown’s

Find a list you like and look over it. What words jump out when you look through? Don’t overthink it, just jot down the words that resonate with you, don’t limit yourself! After you have gone through the list,I recommend taking a walk, make your lunch, whatever you like to take a short break. Next, come back to the list that you have copied and look through it again.  Are there any that don’t seem as important? Are there groups of words that are similar but some stand out more than others? The goal is to bring the list down to two to three words.  

Now, these words are not just a cliché or a pretty group you can use to decorate your wall. Using your words as compass points in the moment of a decision is what makes them powerful. This takes practice. At first, you may forget them until after the decision has been made.  That’s when your smoke signals will start to come up.  Smoke signals? They’re the sign that a forest fire is smoldering under the deadfall.  In other words, you’re smoldering and not sitting well with what has just happened.  Maybe your boundaries have been being pushed, trampled on?.  Maybe you made a decision that is not reflective of your core values.  My personal smoke signal is resentment.  When I feel resentful, I know to step back and ask “, where did the fire embers get left to smolder”?. This is when I know I  need to go back and pour some water on them before we have a catastrophic forest fire. A little  dramatic, I know.   You get the idea.  Each time you step back and raise your awareness of what is of value to you in that decision, even if it’s too late, you learn.  And you practice. Practice your core values.

Core values and smoke signals are both important coachable discussion questions! 

Photo by Taryn Elliott on


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