The Importance of a Personal Value Statement

Every successful brand/business has a value statement. This simple statement has become just as important as mission and vision statements, and for good reason. It is how a brand is set apart from all others—clearly defining its desirability. We can see this, for example, in the value statement for Whole Foods, which the company has deemed its “Higher Purpose Statement”:

With great courage, integrity and love – we embrace our responsibility to co-create a world where each of us, our communities and our planet can flourish. All the while, celebrating the sheer love and joy of food.

There is a difference between a mission statement and a values statement. In a mission, the company outlines its reason for existence, while in the values statement, the company or brand details how it will behave or act in alignment with what it believes. For Whole Foods, making a statement such as this keeps the company aligned with its values, the right customers impassioned with the brand, and the right employees integrated in its culture.

So, it only makes sense that individuals, namely professionals, and especially executive leaders, should see the importance in creating a personal value statement. After all, in this age of free agency, where most people understand that they have to continually market themselves, you are a brand, and clearly identifying your guiding principles helps ensure you are where you’re supposed to be, you’re headed in the right direction, and you’ve surrounded yourself with the right resources and people.

Once you have this clearly defined statement to follow, making decisions is easier, your path is more clearly defined, and you’re less likely to find yourself on detours or in situations or circumstances you shouldn’t be. If you haven’t already created a personal value statement, the steps to do so follow:

The value statement can be broken down into three parts:

What + How + Who

1. What
This is the value you bring to the table. You want to, in as few words as possible, identify what you do for others; it’s how you address the problems or pains or those you serve.

You can identify your value by making a list of your attributes, much like those you might include in a resume, and pulling out the strongest that set you apart from the competition. For Whole Foods, this is its ability to nourish through the foods it sells. For you, this may be leadership or guidance.

2. How
The second part explains how you are different. So, you nourish, people? Lots of brands do that. Ah, yes. But Whole Foods does it with courage, integrity, and love—in a way that celebrates food.

You may see yourself as just a leader, but there is something that sets you apart from the rest. What is that quality or attribute that makes you special? Are you a servant leader for example? One who leads by making the workplace a better place for all? These are the “how’s” we are talking about.

3. Who
Last, but certainly not least, is identifying who it’s all for. Whole Foods does it for the customers its able to reach with its products. Amanda Steinberg, founder of Daily Worth, is helping women around the world with their personal finances. Ask yourself who the end user is in the equation and write the statement to them.

Now that you have all the pieces, you can craft your personal value statement, making sure to keep it concise, with no more than a couple or three sentences. Also remember that, while your guiding principles should not change with the wind, they are not set in stone. A value statement that never changes loses opportunities that come with time and evolution. So, it’s wise to evaluate your statement at least every year or two (or when a major change occurs) to ensure it still accurately depicts your passion and continuously serves as your guide.