3 Questions To Ask Yourself To Identify Your Top Two Life Values According to Brené Brown

I learned a new life trick and my insides are bursting with giddiness to share. The life trick is about how to identify your top two life values in order to help you show up “in the arena” with tools to rumble with vulnerability, by filtering your responses or actions through those two life values, a.k.a. living into your values.

But first, let’s define a few Brene-isms for those of us who aren’t familiar with her lingo.

What does rumbling with vulnerability mean?

  • Vulnerability is defined as the emotion we experience during times of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. Brown describes to rumble as “a discussion, conversation or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability.  It’s to stay curious and generous. In a rumble, you stick with the “messy middle” of problem identification and solving.

What does showing up in the arena mean?

It’s based on this Theodore Roosevelt quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

  • Showing up in the arena means to put ourselves out there for who we truly are and stand for what we believe in.

“A value is a way of being or believing that we hold most important”

What does living into your values mean?

  • It means that we do more than profess our values we practice them. We walk our talk — we are clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviors align with those beliefs.

In order to live into your values, you first have to be able to name them. Below is a list of values to get you started, write down 10-15 that jump out at you before narrowing your list down to your top two.

Yes, two, because according to Jim Collins, “if you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities.” Brown writes, “At some point, if everything on the list is important, then nothing is truly a driver for you. It’s just a gauzy list of feel-good words.

Before you start writing, consider these 5 statements from Brené to help chose:

  1. You only have one set of values. They don’t shift based on personal or professional.
  2. You can only pick two values. Circle 10-15 first and work down to your top two; you can’t stop until you’ve picked two.
  3. Your two core values will correlate with the others you circled.
  4. Be careful to not circle words that resemble something you’ve been coached to be, words that have never felt true for you.
  5. A value is your North Star. It’s precise and clear. They’re the beliefs that are most important and dear to you, that help you find your way in the dark, that fill you with a feeling of purpose.

When I finished I had circled the max limit of fifteen and panicked trying to image pairing it down to two core values. A few rogue words that never felt true to me did get entered in the mix, once I noticed this and eliminated the two it did start to feel more manageable.

I won’t lie; it took me one full day to cement my final two. So take the time you need. This doesn’t have to be done today, instead make your goal to physically write down your top 10-15 first.

Three Questions to ask yourself According To Brené:

  1. Does this define me?
  2. Is this who I am at my best?
  3. Is this a filter that I use to make hard decisions?

How did I wrangle down the rest of the vocab words? I thought back to uncomfortable situations and nailed down when I felt it went right or wrong. If that didn’t work, then I tried to imagine myself feeling backed into a corner emotionally and asked myself, would I filter my response through this value?

This helped narrow it down to four or five, and then I slept on it.

I’m having to fight the urge to make everyone I’m in contact with do this exercise, so I can have a better understanding of where everyone is coming from because I’m a learner (which made it to my top 10) and appreciate context.

This exercise gave me clarity not only about myself as a person but as to what I can do when my face is marred by dust and sweat and blood while striving valiantly in the arena. I hope it has given you some clarity, too.

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear. (17)

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