If you have ever worked with a Producer who knew what mattered and was steadfast in their actions about what mattered, then you probably worked with a Producer who was led by their values. When you govern your activities by your values you measure success by principles that are important to you. These principles go beyond fame, fortune and power.
Working (and living) with your values at the core of your activities identifies what matters to you and what you stand for. Your values give you purpose. Knowing your purpose makes the creative journey run smoother. Making important decisions become easier when your values drive your activities. E.g. decisions about the direction of your project; decisions about who you work with and how you work with them.
If for example you have your own company, your values will inform the culture of the company. As the leader, leading with your values will enable you to create and maintain the culture of your company. It will steer the direction of your company’s growth and inform the types of projects you work on. Above all it gives meaning and purpose to the work you create.
Despite all this good stuff, knowing and acting on your values does not come easily or naturally for everyone. Some people instinctively know their values; others arrive at understanding their values retrospectively. There’s no right or wrong process, as long as in the end you harness your values in order to improve your creative output.
What exactly do we mean by values? What is a value?
Value [noun]: “One’s judgement on what is important in life.”
A value is what we hold as important in life. It is those things that give us purpose. Most of us have about five values at the core of what identifies who we are. These values are unique to us. Even if we share the same core values as our nearest and dearest, we interpret and demonstrate those values uniquely. For example, if you and I both have integrity as a core value, how I demonstrate integrity in my life will be different to how you demonstrate integrity in yours. We may place different meaning to the value and this will shape what we do and how we think yet we both value the same thing!
Is it important to know my core values as a Producer?
Hell yes! Values give us a sense of purpose. When our values are in alignment we gain more fulfillment because we work from a place of “what’s important to us” and the work we create is much more authentic. This motivates and energises us, inspiring us to push beyond our comfort zone, to achieve the things we planned for. It’s important to recognise that values apply to both your personal and professional lives, in fact it is usually quite difficult to separate them. Values keep us grounded and the strength of them determine the strength of our work and subsequently the strength of our output. When we spend time and energy doing something that violates our values we end up feeling resentful, or perhaps frustrated; this does not help creativity.
Finding your values in 3 steps.
This simple exercise will steer you towards discovering your core values. Imagine how much more productive and creative you would be if you stopped wasting time on activities that put you out of alignment. This short exercise [courtesy of Helen Drake, Point Taken Ltd, 2012] should take no more than 15 mins to complete.
a.) Ask yourself: What’s important to me about being a freelance producer?
List everything that comes to mind with ease. Don’t strain. If you find yourself straining for a response then stop and move to the next stage of the exercise.
b.) For each item listed above, ask yourself: Why is that important?
Write down your response to this question next to each item on the list. You might start with “This is important because…” These are your values in the context of being a freelance Producer. You can use this exercise to find out your values in other areas of your life (sometimes you will find that there is an overlap, this overlap usually indicates your core values as they transcend across different contexts).
Take a look at the items on your list and number each one according to its importance to you. This is a tricky step, please read the following instructions carefully.
Start by choosing the one that is the most important to you and give that the number 1. Then go through the list in turn and for the next item ask yourself “Is this more or less important than number 1?” If the answer is ‘less important’ then assign the number 2 to that item. For the next item on the list, ask yourself “Is this more or less important than number 2?” If your answer is ‘less important’ then assign that item the number 3. However, if your answer is ‘more important’ then assign this new item the number 2 (as it has just trumped the previous number 2). You can then do a quick check to see whether this new number 2 is more or less important than the current number 1 value. If it is less then it remains as it is, but if it is more then you have a new number 1 and all the other numbers filter down accordingly. Get it? Continue with this until you have assigned all your values a number.
Reorder and re-write your list of values according to their importance.
Now you’ve done all the hard work you can cruise down the home straight with this step. Write your list of things that are important to you about being a freelance Producer in the new order you have devised. How does it look? Does anything surprise you? How will this inform how you work and who you work with?
The ‘so what?’ effect
You have identified your values, now what? Well, it’s up to you. For some it’s just fun to know, for others it’s fun to know and useful to apply. Here are some examples of how your values can influence your creative output:
- Decision making: when making important decisions do a quick check-in with your values. Will this decision take me away from what’s important to me or bring me closer to what’s important to me? Am I going to honour my values with this new contract or not? Will this new client be able to work in ways that are in line with what’s important to me or not? For example, one of my values is having the freedom to express. When taking on a new project I ask ‘will I have the freedom to express myself in this project?’ If the answer is yes, then of course I go ahead with it. But if the answer is no then it’s highly likely I will decline the project. When you can’t work to your values your work will not be authentic and who wants a disingenuous creative?
- Keep your values front and centre of your activities: Remind yourself regularly of what’s important to you by having things and people around you that reflect that. You might have post-it notes dotted around your office with your values written on them. Or have pictures that demonstrate them. Perhaps even a screen saver on your computer. Whatever you choose make it meaningful.
I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts and of course your values. If you have any questions, please also ask them below and I will respond. Stay connected with us and subscribe to our Creatives’ Survival Toolkit club. It’s completely FREE, and as a member you will receive weekly tools on how to survive this ever evolving industry as well as other benefits exclusive to members only.