One of the main lessons I’ve carried with me is that finding the right people to surround yourself with throughout the decades can make or break where you get to and how you get there. The peaks and troughs of living are the real test of who those right people truly are.

Let’s be honest, once in a while something pops up and the seas get rough but it is human nature ¾ proven over centuries of survival ¾ that we will best weather the journey together.

On the go? Here’s 30 seconds of key take outs:

  • The secret to success, in every case study, is having people around you that bring out the best in you, and vice versa.
  • To identify who those people are, you need to understand your own beliefs and values first.
  • By learning how to identify someone’s values level, you can choose whether to opt in or opt out of investing in building a deeper connection.
  • Adversity builds character. You might meet someone with ship shape values and smarts, but how does their character stand up in the face of adversity? Life’s challenges are the true test of sustainable positive relationships.

Keep going >>

Before you can understand other people and the qualities that draw you to them, you need to understand yourself first. Without being acutely aware of who you are, it is not always easy to see others for who they really are until it’s too late.

Here are the top four lessons about relationships that have helped me:

  • Choose to be in relationships with people that hold similar values to you.
  • Be clear on what you each want, and what role you play in the relationship.
  • Bring people into your life ¾ life partners and business partners ¾ that edify each other.
  • Surround yourself with people motivated by more than just money.

What does Values Level Thinking mean?

This is a deep question with many layers of answers but I’ll do my best to simplify it for you.  I’m not an expert on the subject but I am keen to open your mind so that you can recognise what it is that you’re looking out for when you are seeking connections with people especially doing business.

Your values thinking levels are the constructs from which you develop the way you think about things ¾ the lens through which we view our world. Your values define the ability to deal with and adapt to the diverse life conditions in which we exist.

Put simply, your thought processes stem from the things that you value. What behaviours, attitudes and beliefs you value sets your moral compass. Your moral compass is about how you define what’s acceptable and what’s not and how you define priorities as you go through life knowing what is important for you to do, what to say, how you respond and behave.

To help you become a better judge of character by being able to identify the values level thinking of others, I’m sharing some tools with you to help analyse individuals in your business dealings.

There was a dude called Graves who came up with a theory that we have a base or core levels of existence (values) starting at the survival level.

The Survival Level

You’re most likely familiar with the survival term ‘fight or flight’.  At this values thinking level people are operating from a focus on the individual and personal survival. Does this ring a bell with any one you know? Ha, ha. It really is prevalent in some situations especially in emergencies. This leads into…

The Tribal Level

This is the level where people relate to being part of a tribe (or family, clan or gang) where a leader or respected elder dictates what the group does. Tradition and rituals are important to this level of values thinking. If you’re in the Military, you can probably relate to how this works.

The Aggression Level

People that operate on the aggression level seek results based on taking what they can or want to take. This values thinking has a short time line and consequences of actions are not even considered. The attitude of ‘winner takes all’ and ‘kill the competition’ are prevalent in this type of thinking. Know who I’m talking about?

The Sacrifice-now-for-rewards-later Level

You’ll get this one as it is the foundation of the economic society that we operate in. This is where people commit themselves to the idea that you must work all your life, and then take a pension as soon as you hit retirement age.

The Entrepreneur Level

Someone operating at this level does not want to wait for their rewards. They want them now and are prepared to work to benefit from them.

The Sacrifice-now-in-order-to-get-acceptance-now Level:

People operating at this values level is focused on their inner world and wants everyone to be happy.

The Functional Flow Level

Here the lens through which thinking happens, revolves around what works. Decisions are made without emotions and are totally dependent on the functionality of the outcome.

Know thyself: which level do you operate at?

The concept behind these values levels or categories are hierarchical where one values level is better than another. The understanding behind each of these ‘labels’ are useful in particular contexts, you have all these levels or ways of looking at situations or events available to you but you’ll tend to show a preference for one.  It is also important to note that some levels are not as useful as others depending on the contexts surrounding situations.

How does this relate to the real world? In business, property, or relationships, conversation and thinking can flow through these types of frames in different situations, as problems and issues inevitability rise. An individual’s life experience can impact how someone responds in applying a values thinking level.

Connecting with others ‘on the level’

By understanding and being able to recognise the different types of values levels, you can tailor your interactions and meet people at their level so that you can both move forward.  This is empathy in action. Don’t get me wrong though, if you don’t believe your values are aligned in positive ways, don’t shift to a level that conflicts with yours.

In my life I’ve observed that people live two lives, the life they want you to see, hear and believe and their other life which is their true self.  It is only in the face of adversity that some people will reveal their true self.

“Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.”  ¾ Marian Wright Edelman

Beliefs are what we base our thoughts and actions around. Before you can truly connect with someone’s true self in a trusted and supportive relationship, you need to understand their beliefs and values, and vice versa.

And then there is character. Character is something that is birthed through adversity.  This was so evident back in my Defence days in the Clearance Diving world. Many of the initial trainings to get into Clearance Diving was designed to physically and mentally wear you down to see how you integrate within a team under stress and pressure.

No matter if you are happy-go-lucky and sharp-as-a-tack, adversity and challenges are part of our walk in life. One of life’s secrets is to learn to be an objective observer ¾ and content in taking that position ¾  in any and every situation to master the ability to handle problems as they arise.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple in the moment.

“Pain and death are part of life. To reject them is to reject life itself.” ¾ Havelock Ellis

So thank goodness for adversity! She teaches you perseverance, trains you to be smarter and builds your resilience.

I found this great list of character traits to look for when developing friendships or business relationships.


What is the glue that holds the relationships together?

Edification means building each other with praise, genuine heart felt praise! Edification is the glue that holds relationships together. You never really know how far a little praise or positive encouragement goes. You may be the only person in their world recognising them with praise and positivity. It can make the biggest difference to their life and in return, yours. Give edification a try!

I know this was a heavy subject matter to cover, but here comes the shorter version:

Surround yourself with people who share similar values and beliefs and that build you up and make you feel confident about who you are.  Invest in relationships that bring out the best of your true self. Giving positivity in a relationship is like your finances. Depositing credit is good for your balance, but too many withdrawals will send you bankrupt.

Love to know your thoughts on this blog, shoot me an email with feedback: [email protected]

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