Sometimes the journey to discover what something is … starts with figuring-out what it’s not. I have found this to especially be the case when it comes to an individual discovering his or her core values.

I’m not talking about discovering individual “words” per se. I’m talking about our confusion when it comes to what I’ve come to value … with what are my core values. There are a lot of words, concepts, assumptions, perceptions, and experiences along our historical journey that can provide nuggets of wisdom and insight as we begin to dig for our core values. And we, very likely, have come to value many of them.

On the surface, what we have come to value, can feel awfully valuable.

It may be the single most common reason why, after a struggle to name any core values, we soon brainstorm what seems to be an overwhelming number of potential core values. It probably explains the common question, “How many core values does an individual have?” I usually answer, “I don’t know. How many can you remember?” It’s hard to live a core value that you can’t remember! Especially when it may not be a core value after all.

The big dig to your core values predictably unearths behaviors, wants and needs. It’s important to remember that each of these categories are very valuable. Devaluing the importance of behaviors, wants and/or needs can be a primary cause for overloading our list of core values. It is, in fact, our core values that give all behaviors, wants and needs their value. If a word or concept holds value … and we have devalued the importance of behaviors, wants and needs … we tend to dump them into our core value bucket by default. Yet, they are not core values.

And neither are our beliefs.

As we begin to dig, we will come across accumulated opinions and beliefs that are little more than annoying pebbles or rocks that will need to be reluctantly tossed aside. However, the most deep-seeded beliefs … turned convictions … form boulders and can bring our digging to a halt.  These deep-seed beliefs can easily be mistaken for bedrock. These convictions can masquerade around in our mind misconstrued as the core values of our heart and soul. And they can blind us to the “more” that rests within us.

These convictions are most often driven by our ego rather than our core. For some of us, temporarily-suspended convictions could very well create the gateway to discovering our core values … the very core values that may forever change how we show-up to live out those convictions or to see the misguided motives behind them.

Yet, we first must see that they are not our core values.

When we can see past what we value, it raises the bar for discovering our core values. Our beliefs and convictions can be tricky to navigate, confusing along the way and hard to let go of. Yet, when we do, it can make for more believable values and a lot more valuable beliefs!

I have never thought about asking anyone to make a list of what is incredibly valuable to them … yet not a core value. It just might be the perfect place to start the digging process. For seeing what something is not … can open our eyes, heart and soul to a deeper possibility of seeing what that something actually is.

What have you long-considered to be a core value only to discover it wasn’t a core value at all … it just proved to be something you valued?  Please share your example below!