Because authenticity requires you to act in accordance with your values, you need to get a handle on them. Think of “values” as your personal guideposts for right action in all contexts. They are much more profound than apple pie and motherhood. My values include kindness, fairness, and learning.


This list of values may help you gain clarity about yours. Identifying your values may initially seem like a no-brainer, but those that immediately come to mind may conflict as you apply them in the real world. How would you balance professionalism and success against compassion when your assistant misses a filing deadline because she’s at the doctor with her child?


Print out this list of values and identify the top ten. Are your actions in accordance with them? Next, boil it down to five. That will feel hard, but life will inevitably present choices where seemingly clear priorities are challenged. Your goal is to identify values that really stand out for you, that you have an emotional, intuitive response to.


You can test whether you’re living these values by imagining your one hundredth birthday party and what people will say then if you have lived your top five values over the years. I hope someone might say, “Kate was willing to fight for fair treatment of others even if her dog wasn’t in the fight. She was willing to take on firm management about the measly compensation that it was paying women working part time.”


What will people say about you? If you find this difficult to imagine, I have included a guided visualization on my website to help you create images of your birthday party and to hear the words of the speakers:

An exhaustive list of values would run on for many pages and would be difficult to navigate. I’ve chosen 85 and sorted them into groups with descriptive headings. Because your perspective colors how you respond to the headings, take them lightly. Scan the entire list to identify those values you hold dear. Your values may not appear below, so add those that speak to you.


Small Group/Home Work


Autonomy Control


Children Job Satisfaction


Connection Mentoring


Family Respect


Friendship Security


Health Status


Love Success


Loyalty Teamwork


Solitude Timeliness



Achievement Intellect


Ambition Common Sense


Challenge Decisiveness


Competitiveness Education


Confident Insightful


Discipline Knowledge


Endurance Learning


Focus Logic


Growth Smart


Mastery Thoughtful


Organized Wisdom


Power Productivity

Integrity Affect


Accountability Acceptance


Conscientiousness Compassion


Dependability Gratitude


Honesty Happiness


Honor Harmony


Responsibility Joy

Trustworthiness Kindness





Creativity Enjoyment


Curiosity Enthusiasm


Exploration Experimentation


Imagination Fun


Innovation Humor


Intuition Playfulness


Originality Sex

Community Spirituality


Animals Altruism


Arts Charity


Equality Generosity


Fairness Goodness


Helping Others Inner Harmony


Nature Reverence


Politics Selflessness


Sustainability Tolerance