A conversation with a colleague about value and another with a client about confidence prompted me to think about the connection between creating value and one’s personal values.

In business, when we are selling, we make offers to others out of an intention to provide value and to receive payment in return. This requires extending ourselves, placing a certain part of our selves at risk for rejection. It may be that the offer we make is not perceived as valuable to the person we are extending it to. It may also be that we anticipate this in advance and the fear that we may get rejected causes us to avoid making the offer, or else to make it in a way that is not completely direct and candid. Either way, our sense of ourselves, our value and our confidence can be shaken in this situation.

As I see it, five values underpin a foundation of confidence in making offers: Reciprocity, Service, Candor, Integrity, Courage. These are all personal values which can support us in making offers in a way that allows us to be fully confident even when there is not a match between my offer and the desires of my prospect.

Reciprocity means, “the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit.”

One of the meanings of Service, “the act of providing assistance.”

Candor means “being open and honest in expression.”

Integrity is “the state of being whole or undivided.”

Courage means “the ability to do something that frightens one.”

The way that these values hang together for me goes as follows. When I am oriented to exchanging something of value to me for something of value to you, I am looking out for your interest and mine (reciprocity). To do so is an act of assistance to your interests as well as mine (service). For me to understand that what I have to offer could truly be of service requires me to be honest about what I can provide and to be honestly interested in what you want or need (candor). To be honest with you and with myself demands that I see what I have to offer completely, including my strengths and weaknesses and that I do not pretend to be something that I am not (integrity). With full knowledge of my capabilities, but with incomplete knowledge about your needs, attitudes or preferences, I must step into the unknown in order to make my offer (courage).

Confidence seems to me to be an emergent property of acting from these values over time, with an intention to be valuable and incorporating the feedback that success and failure provide into an ever stronger commitment to act from the values.