I have spent a lot of time over the last few months reflecting on the way I have run my business and the values I have made decisions by both in life and in work. Identifying the things that have intuitively guided me. Up until the start of 2020, my business had jostled for my attention with other roles that I held, but in January 2020 it became my sole focus, or perhaps better articulated as my soul focus. At the same time, my husband, Ben, came on board as my videographer and we expanded our service offerings and dared to re-imagine what this thing could be. We needed to be able to wrap our arms around a clear set of values and so it was time we gave them some better definition. In a time when there has been plenty of reflection on what this business even is, and what it can be in our changing world; pouring some energy into defining the very foundational aspect has been somewhat validating for me and served as an invitation to Ben to come aboard.

I’m not sure if ‘values’ is the right word – are they Beliefs? Values? Principles? There are numerous definitions out there that make those delineations. To be honest, I don’t really care about the semantics. I just know these four ‘things’ can be relied upon to hold up the mirror to our faces and ask us the tough questions, lay out the possibilities before us and hold our hands when we make decisions and take action. They give us a solid place to stand. While I know they are just concepts I speak of them as if they hold their own intelligence because they become so much more powerful in my mind when personified. I’d like to introduce them to you now in my own words as they show up for me personally.

Be your authentic self, your whole self, and nothing but yourself

First and foremost, this value is about bringing all of you to the table. It’s about knowing and owning your narrative and accepting all of the life experiences that make it up. It is about being unapologetically yourself. Your uniqueness is an asset that you bring, no one else has exactly your perspective as you are the only one who has trodden your specific and exact path through life. Only you have learnt the particular set of lessons, experienced your particular set of hardships and aha moments. No one else can taste the victories and achievements that you have risen to across your life. So bring it all with you. This value also gives us permission to feel emotions, yes, even in the workplace. You are human, don’t feel you have to pretend you are some kind of emotionless cyborg just because you are at work – your emotions are part of what make you human. Feel into them, sometimes they know more than your logical, practical brain does. I’m not saying you should yell and scream and cry in your workplace. You still have the ability to control how you respond to your emotions and how you choose to share them with others, productively. But feel them and share them you should. You do yourself and the others you are working with, an injustice when you allow only a censored part of you to show up. Yes, being there in all your glory – warts, faults, insecurities, fears and all – well that’s vulnerable. I get that. But it’s also where the most complete version of yourself dwells. How can you do your best work if you aren’t even fully participating? Is the question this value asks you.

While this value is about showing up as your whole self, it’s just as much about not bringing anything that isn’t truly you to the table either. Believing you have to act a certain way or use a certain type of acceptable language, prevents the truth from getting through. You can’t work, design, build or service anything fully when you are bringing a falseness to the table with you. Don’t say you feel the risks are too high because you think that is how your boss will respond. How do you honestly feel about it? Your boss doesn’t want your lip service, that doesn’t help anyone. Embrace your truth.

For me in my work, this value is the one I lean into that tells me when I should trust my gut. I make better business decisions when I listen to both my logical brain and my intuitive self, this value gives me permission to do that. More than that actually, it insists on it. And it also insists I never pretend to be something I am not. It gives me the space to put my hand up when I don’t understand something or I don’t know what to do. It lets me lead my business through love and trust and to accept reciprocity.

Dare to wonder

Daring to wonder encourages being brave, having curiosity, learning, exploring, experimenting. It is about being comfortable to try and fail but recognise how that sometimes teaches you more than getting it right the first time. It is about embracing what you don’t know. It is about allowing the wonderment that fills the world to pique your curiosity. Allowing yourself to get excited over the little things. It is about dreaming big with no regard for practicalities – they can come later, much later. It is about having a crack and keeping an open mind while you are at it. By daring to wonder you accept that possibility is abundant. You allow yourself to push and stretch a little further. You aren’t constrained by the ideas that have come before you. You relish the nervous tingling up your spine when a big idea is conjured. This value gets you to look past perceived boundaries and it asks you to ‘imagine if?

In my work, I would not have a business at all if it weren’t for daring to wonder. No part of embarking on this journey has been practical, there has always been a more sensible choice – every single step along the way. But knowing in my bones that it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all, has kept me stepping forward past fear and into wonderment. That’s where the good stuff lives.

Get your hands dirty

This value is shouting from the rooftops to rejoice in the experience of making, creating and crafting. Creativity dwells in all of us, whether we believe it to or not. We are our own creations. For aren’t we all making and curating our very lives as we move through the world? And if you are not, if it is not you who is creating the life that you are experiencing, then who, my friend is steering? Grab the wheel, put aside past beliefs that you are not one of the chosen ‘creative ones’ it will free you to find what the creativity that lives inside you actually looks like. It doesn’t look the same for everyone, but it is there in everyone. Whether you paint, cook, knit, garden, decorate, restore vintage cars. Creativity comes in many forms, but in all of them it is an act of doing. Getting your hands dirty is about enjoying the process of making and not getting hung up on the end product too soon. Making is rejoicing in the flow, feeling into the energy and seeing where it takes you. It is not about being a sideline observer while others play, it is getting amongst it. It is getting past indecision and into action. Putting aside the urge for perfection and just jumping in.

In my life, I am fuelled by my creative expression. I am a maker and I wear many maker-hats. The feeling of being lost in the act of making feeds my soul. Allowing myself the space in my life to be creative is as important to my wellbeing as getting enough sleep and eating well. Feeding my creativity helps me to show up as my best self for my family and in my work. It is like a muscle I need to exercise so it is strong when I need it. I can’t be over-worked, tired and stressed and then just turn on my creativity like a tap when I need it for a work project. I am embarrassed to admit how long it took me to learn this lesson. I am sharing it with you here in case it is a lesson you also need to hear. How are you feeding your creativity so it can show up for you when you need it?

Love it or leave it

Now this is not as harsh as it sounds, but I have introduced it as such so it gets your attention. Don’t be half-assed. That is essentially what this value is about. This value says to you, ‘love it, give it everything you’ve got, and if you can’t – ask yourself if you should be doing it at all?’ Lead with love, love your clients, love the work, love the hard lessons and then work no longer feels like work.

This value often presents you with hard decisions. But it yields amazing outcomes. Allowing myself the ability to say no to some things that I thought I should do, is what made the space for all the best things to rush in. Being clear about what I loved doing as opposed to what I can do, allowed me to find a path filled with happiness. This value also holds me to the fact that once I have committed to something I can’t half-ass it. I either have to fully commit and give it my best or I have to make the tough call to walk away. Half-assing your way through stuff helps nobody. Love is where the energy is. Love is where you can really create value for a client. Love lifts us all up.

So as I sit here now at my metaphorical table, looking around at my four companions, I feel good about life. I feel inspired by our business and the work it allows us to do. I feel good about how I am showing up in the world. I have comfort that we can steer through whatever the future throws at us. And I truly wish the same for you too. How are you showing up? Who is at the table with you when it’s time to make hard decisions? I’d love to meet them.