Experience Based Values Creation

Our climbing instructor took out a small hammer and tapped it against the rock. She leaned in with her ear to hear the noise the hammer made against it.

“Nope, we can’t climb here.” She then repeated the process in three more spots until she finally turned back to the group and declared an excellent place to climb.

“Before any rock climb, you always want to check the integrity of the rock to make sure that it’s solid. Climbing on a weak rock can be very dangerous.” 

Illustration by Heather Williams from Two Line Studios 

I took out my notebook and scribbled down “Check Your Rock.” 

Later in the day, after an arduous climb, our group sat at the top of one of our conquered rock walls in exhaustion. Our instructor stood up and pointed to a clearing in the trees where she could see for hundreds of miles. At the end of the stretch, there was a beautiful sunset. 

“Every time you make it to the top of a climb, no matter how tired you are, take a moment to enjoy the view and take note of where you started to where you are now.” She spoke to us while looking out at the red, orange, and pink sky.

I took out my notebook again and wrote down, “Enjoy The View.”

That night, my group went out for dinner, where we reflected on our rock climbing day, but with a very particular focus—group Values.

We wanted to use our shared rock climbing experience to develop a series of values for our group.

The result was the creation of these three group values:

Check Your Rock; Align what you think, what you say, what you do.

Belay On; Be an unquestionably trustworthy and trusting person.

Enjoy The View; Maintain perspective, and celebrate the wins.

I call this Experience-Based Values Creation (EBVC) – the process of having an experience and then creating values based on that experience.

When groups develop values, it usually involves a conference room, white walls, and, if you are lucky, some colorful sticky notes. 

EBVC is the process of going through a journey together as a group and then using that experience to come up with your values.

EBVC has several benefits over traditional values created:

1) Values are based on a real experience with emotional attachment

2) Creates a unique shared language for the group

3) Brainstorming each value becomes more creative

4) The group gets to relive the experience every time they see a value

Every group should commit to creating values, but don’t stifle the group’s genius by just sitting in a conference room. Find a way to have a shared experience and then use that shared experience to create your group values.

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