Have you have ever just sat down and thought consciously about what really matters to you? Are you making choices in line with what feels peaceful at soul level? After writing my previous post about the power of legacy and the late Muhammad Ali, I was inspired to write this one as a springboard to get you started building your own.
Values are personal principles that many of us have absorbed without question from our family, community and social environment. We get caught up in doing the ‘right thing’ in line with someone else’s values, even when it doesn’t support us, or sit well in our spirit. If you’re feeling a little confused about which values belong to whom, I’m taking this time with you to get clear on these fundamental principles to build your vision.
Consciously defining our values is an important part of claiming and redefining our identity, especially as we grow. For people of colour, values are particularly important in order to create and maintain a sense of cultural identity, safety, and consistency around resisting the onslaught of racism we experience on a daily basis.There are so many areas where racist ideology is aggressively projected onto us, that we can unknowingly prioritise the values which uphold this dominance, and enable the ongoing subjugation and neglect of our own cultural needs and values.
What often brings us to this point of personal exploration, is a significant life event that calls a halt to us doing, and demands that we pause and think of our being. My pivot point came in the summer of 2007, as I sobbed inside the bottom of my wardrobe clutching a positive pregnancy test. It wasn’t having a baby that brought on my tears, but having to face the ugly truth that I had nothing to give my child, except a trunk of recycled dysfunction and my emotional rock bottom. I didn’t know who I was, and was terrified of the kind of parent I would be if I did nothing. I did know, that I wanted to be a great role model both as a parent, and a black woman. I wanted to model a strong sense of self in line with my values, and was willing to go to any lengths for her to stand in her own power.
I began turning this around by first defining what MY values were. Not what my family thinks, not what is socially dominant, but what did I actually think about my position in the world. What did I obsess about? What makes me laugh? What makes me furious and where do I feel love and compassion?
To begin, I Goggled a list of core values and began working through them to see which ones moved me. This clarity was where I began rebuilding my self respect and sketching the blueprint for my future. I wanted to focus on 3 to keep it simple, but there were so many I wanted to keep. I especially struggled to choose between culture, family, spirituality and education which are all key parts of my personal growth. After much deliberation, I finally chose three core values I knew would broadly cover the previous topics I could not whittle down. My final choice is……..
On a side note, it’s also important to be mindful and prepared for people in your close circles to question and challenge your new values as you begin implementing changes in line with your vision. I encourage you to stand firm in what you believe and give yourself permission to set gentle boundaries with those who refuse to honour who you have now chosen to be. You don’t have to accept anything that is passed onto you, it’s healthy to question everything and move forward to build the awesome life you deserve.
Defining my values was such a powerful exercise for me, that I decided to turn it into a mini ebook, which I’m excited to be offering free to help you begin living the life you want and building the legacy your children deserve.Once completed, you will benefit from the following….
- You’ll make clearer, confident choices about your career, relationships and social environments.
- You’ll be a lot less stressed because your choices can be made quicker.
- The clarity will keep you focused on the results and accountable for things which are not in alignment with your list.
- Your behaviour will now mirror everything that is important to you.
- You’ll build a stronger family unit as everyone is involved in the process of maintaining these redefined values.
I hope you found this useful and would love to hear your experience of working through my worksheet. You can find the free ebook as promised at the bottom of this post. Please come back and comment to let me know how you got on.
Love and blessings
On the 3 June 2016, the great Muhammad Ali became an esteemed ancestor. He not only left a blaze of sporting excellence inside the boxing ring, but also a glorious legacy of truth and integrity inside the black struggle. What I adore most about the Champ, was his commitment to speaking up about racial injustice at a time when black leaders were regularly being murdered by the government for doing so. Despite this, he remained fearless and consistent in fighting to free his people.
It was only when I became pregnant that I really started to think seriously about legacy, and what I was doing with my life. What did I inherit? What behaviours would I teach inside our connection, and what wealth would she inherit when I pass? I thought about my slave legacy, the disastrous relationships, my financial illiteracy, and fears and vague notion of values. I knew they were not in line with what I wanted from life, or hers, and then set about writing a plan to build the internal foundation from which to build an abundant legacy my own.
Defining your values.
Creating a legacy requires taking consistent actions in line with your values. Values are defined as the personal principles and standards of behaviour by which you live. I found it helpful at first be really clear about what my values were, so I’ve created a worksheet for you in the next post about values, for your own clear definitions. Your life decisions will become so much clearer when you know what you stand for. Get your partner and children involved also, it will be a much more powerful exercise if you do this as a team effort.
Fill in the gaps.
Once you’ve completed the worksheet and are clearer about what’s important, you should be able to see any gaps, similarities or differences between the values you may or may not have with your friends and extended family. It’s OK for them to be different and neither party is right or wrong. It just means that you’re giving yourself permission to be your own person and/or family unit. You want to start taking responsibility for the new vision you have for your life.
Dream and execute.
Now that you have more of idea of your vision, you can start brainstorming ways to create the life and legacy you want to build. Plan and think consciously about how you can integrate your values into everyday life. Dream big, start small, but be consistent. When I did mine, I realised that I wanted to create a daily morning devotional time for spiritual connection, which honours my ancestors and African spirituality. It took me a little while to write, and I still tweak it occasionally, but we now spend 30 minutes in the morning with a short preamble, a libation ritual, prayers, meditation, a gratitude list and affirmations to close. My daughter absolutely loves this ritual as it creates a wonderful space for intimacy, positive cultural connection and a peaceful springboard which sets us all up for the day.
Before Mohammad Ali died, I was still a little anxious about sharing my black thoughts, because I regularly see successful black entrepreneurs being racially abused during live broadcasts, and none of them even talk specifically about racism. However, after seeing so much recent footage of Ali showing up in his fearless glory, I know I must do what is right and not hide inside the fear. I want my daughter to be proud of me for practicing the same depth of integrity. She also needs to be equipped with the tools to maintain her own racial wellness, so I want her to see the tangible actions I take to produce justice and not be all talk.
My commitment to the ongoing black struggle, is to continue to share my experience, hope and truth with a view to building a movement with tangible tools for empowerment and emotional wealth. This, I hope will liberate the individual minds of black people; to heal and build a legacy of greatness for themselves and the community.
Every decision you make is another opportunity to build your own legacy. Any pain underneath your why will make you unstoppable. I don’t weep for the death of Ali, I take inspiration from his shining example of what it means to really live a life of purpose. Today he has been laid to rest and my thoughts are with his family. Rest well Champ, you will always be the greatest!