Personal Values

Personal Values Development Paper.

I would like to start by saying that personal values and skills represent all the knowledge, attitudes and abilities that contribute to the proper development of moral character, adherence to communal demands and a set of competencies required to properly function in the society. Our values can range from commonplace beliefs in things like hard work, self-reliance, or punctuality to more profound beliefs as represented by concern for others, harmony, loyalty, duty, and honesty (Gough, 2004). The following essay will speak about my personal values development process.

Biographies of famous people from around the world, I attempt to learn in the first place the personal values that guide their lives. When examining their lives with much attention, it is easy to understand that their personal values are what helped them achieve much success in life and gain recognition (Slack 2003).

When speaking about my ground rules and ethical development I need to note that I grew up in Samoa and this is where I was initially taught values like respect, honesty, loyalty, and honor in school and within my family. These were some of the core values that I brought with me to the US Army. I have been in the military for more than 17 years and during that time period I served my duty in Iraq twice. The core values that the US army taught me were summarized in “Seven Army Values” axiom: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. In order to function well in the army one had to adapt these values and live by them. Army leaders expected these values from each other and this is what in my opinion made it a great team.

The sources of my values were rather numerous. When I was a kid, the sources of my values were my parents, peers and the school professors. Needless to note that while my parents and the school staff would teach me ‘right things’, my older friends with whom I spent time after school would teach each other just the opposite. As for the schools, I have to note that they aren’t value-neutral environments, and I was also exposed to the principles of freedom of speech, democracy, equality, fairness in the treatment of people around me in the society (Senske, 2004). Family and the community would enforce certain societal and cultural values that impacted by moral values.

My teen years were somewhat rebellious; it was a period of time when I criticized and challenged the prevailing moral norms of adults considering them outdated and unpopular. Several years later I understood that the simple principles of respect, honesty, loyalty, and honor would mean normal functioning in the complex modern society. It took me years serving in the army to understand the rationale behind Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage values that every successful leader strives to possess.

Nowadays, another powerful source of inspiration that provide many different values to choose from and model after is the literature I read. Much knowledge and discipline I find in the autobiographies of the US presidents like John Kennedy, Franklyn D. Roosevelt, William Clinton, and George Bush Sr. There views and perspectives are different on various issues and even contradictory, yet apparently they teach a reader like me the qualities, core beliefs and values that each of these willful presidents possessed. Being a fan of history I easily recall various historic events and then learn what values guided a given president or other political leader to act in a certain way.

Reading classical literature, especially written by British writers, gives me another perspective on the values and norms development. As a matter of fact the fundamental values taught in school worldwide all derive from the ancient and past history and effectively work as a summary of human ethical development. The works of the US founding fathers with Confederate (by Hamilton) being my favorite bring more light and understanding to me in time of confusion and pluralism of thoughts.

My colleagues and superiors also serve as a wonderful role model for me and allow me to develop leadership skills backed up by solid ethical foundation. Frequent get-togethers and organized meetings allow each of us exchange opinions, experiences and apparently values and beliefs that each of us possesses.

As for the criteria and decision making factors I use to revise my values I believe that it is a part of my weekly self-analysis.  I usually start by thinking about three to five different values that shaped my life and had contributed to my success, achievement, as well as mistakes and errors that I occasionally make. Then I think of the particular ways where these different values helped me or ruined something in my life and sometime even write them down. There I point out the advantages and disadvantages of each particular value, core belief or habit. The next step is to take out a large list of different values that I created several years ago and then select one or two new values that I would like to become a part of my daily life. After the value is chosen I mentally envision how that value can be implemented. Specificity is the key here and it takes me a while to define in greater detail how the value would be used by me and how it would govern my actions and way of living. Once I am able to envision the new value as a part of myself, I develop the action plan based on these specific details. My action plan comprises different events, and due dates regarding the implementation process of my values in routine life.

The weekly self-analysis I undertake serves also as a review process where I routinely examine my adopted core values to know how I am going and tune them up. During the self-analysis I develop the procedures that make all my values the congruent cornerstone of my life. During my self-analysis I tap mistakes and inconsistencies that might arise during my value implementation process and then find out the ways to improve myself to adopt the values properly. Sometimes it takes me a while to implement the value I deem important yet once implemented it drastically contributes to my personal growth as an individual.

Speaking about the potential impact of my values and my performance in my work place I have to note that values definitely impact it. While in my teens, my values were rather conventional, i.e. the rules that meant reasonable harmony with other people in the society. Still these values were not carved in stone and one would break or depart from them occasionally, especially when I wanted to have my needs met or when my employer or superior would demand me do something contradictory to my values. As time passed I became more principled and believe that most of my values are integral and subconscious part of myself. Serving in the military requires me to make ethical choices daily yet remain just and objective especially during my two tours to Iraq. Being principled and adhering to values taught early in my childhood and the community let alone in the army oftentimes serve not only as guide for my actions but also as an effectively tool that unites people under one same commitment.  The common shared values among most of my colleagues in the Army allow me to work more productively and efficiently since all of us are able to get along well and stay on the common task. I have to note here that the Army’s values Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage seem to work well in the army yet may not necessarily work in other domains like: business (where the primary goal is to make a profit) or law (where the greatest value is to win the case regardless of whether or not the person committed a crime) or politics (where values focus on telling people what they want to hear to win more votes and popularity in the future). My values certainly impact the work I do and the actions I take. Apparently, if I were to get a job in marketing, I would no agree to advertise something I consider bad even if it makes a profit. If a lawyer had values similar to mine, she/he would hardly be able to work since his/her desire to win the case will interfere with Honor and respect values of mine. By the same token, I would unlikely make a good politician since my values would prevent me from making empty promises and finding legal loopholes to cater the needs of the most voters possible.


Gough, Russell, 2004, Character Is Destiny : The Value of Personal Ethics in Everyday Life, McGraw Hill, pp. 45-49.

Slack, Robert, 2003, Beliefs and Values: A Logical Basis for Personal Ethics, Prentice Hall, pp. 103-111.

Senske, Kurt, 2004, Personal Values, NY Random House, pp. 88-90.

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