The Structure of Values

Where do values come from? Every value comes from a deeper value. Each value — that is, each condition that we desire — is motivated by our valuing some other condition even more. For example, I want to pick up my telephone because I want to buy a plane ticket to Boston. I want to buy an airplane ticket to Boston because I want to go to Boston. I want to go to Boston because I want to attend First Annual International Symposium on Where Values Come From. I want to attend the symposium because I want to present my ideas about where values come from. I want to present my ideas because... And so on.

Each value links to others, and the links form a Value Chain. Each link connects a less important value to a more important one. Buying the ticket is more important than picking up the phone. Going to Boston is more important than buying the ticket.

Each value is linked to the next through a cause-and-effect belief, a belief that satisfying this value will partially or wholly satisfy that more important value. I believe that if I pick up the phone, I can buy a ticket, and that if I buy a ticket, I can go to Boston.

Each of our values, then, becomes a value through our belief that it contributes to an even more important value. My desire to buy a ticket comes from my desire to go to Boston combined with my belief that if I buy a ticket I can go. If I didn't want to go to Boston, or if I didn't believe that buying a ticket would help me to go to Boston, I wouldn't want the ticket.

One way to explore a Value Chain is to use the experiments I described in my article about "The Value Question." Another way is to start with any desire you want to explore, and state it in the form, "I want (this desire) in order to __________." Then fill in the blank. That tells you the deeper desire that is motivating the first one. Now state that deeper desire in the same form, and fill in the blank. Repeat until...

Hey, wait a minute! If every desire comes from a deeper desire, then a Value Chain goes on forever. Are Value Chains endless? Not quite. As we trace any value through a Value Chain we eventually arrive at a value that we desire in and of itself, and not because it supports a deeper value. Connirae and Tamara Andreas, in their marvelous book Core Transformation call these values Core States. Though people use various names for their deepest values, the Andreases have identified five common Core States: Being, Inner Peace, Love, OKness, and Oneness. Every Value Chain leads to a value like one of these Core States. In other words, every value is a value because we believe (in most cases tacitly) that it leads ultimately to a Core State.

I believe each Value Chain continues at least one step beyond a Core State, but in a way that we cannot access consciously. I suspect that there is a single deeper value that motivates all of the Core States: express and sustain the force of life. And I suspect that the reason that this value is inaccessible to us is that it ultimately serves not us as individuals, but the force of life itself.

We have lots of these Value Chains, because we have many relatively independent values and desires. Right now, I want to post this article on my web site. I also want to read a chapter or two of a book I've been reading. I also want to get to sleep within the next few hours. Each of these desires has a Value Chain.

Our many Value Chains interconnect into a web that I call a Value Hierarchy. Some values lead to more than one deeper value. For example, going to Boston supports my attending the conference, and it also allows me to visit my family and friends in New England. And some values motivate more than one lower-level value. Wanting the attend the conference motivates me to travel to Boston and also to book a hotel room.

Value Chains — values linked through cause-and-effect beliefs to deeper values — are central to my approach to resistance and power. If you want to increase your influence, learn whatever you can about your Value Chains and those of the people around you.

Reference: For more information about Core States, I highly encourage you to read Connirae and Tamara Andreas's Core Transformation: Reaching the Wellspring Within. You may notice that I recommend lots of books. If you read only one of the books I recommend, Core Transformation is the one. This book helped me more profoundly than any other to understand people, especially myself.

comments powered by Disqus