Discover Your Core Values

Discover Your Core Values

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Recently, my team and I were discussing core values and their importance in leading our moral compass, but many of them inquired as to how they know what their core values are when they value so much. We all hold several values in our lives, but there are a few that are considered our core values. These values can guide our decision-making, help us in crisis, and give us a foundation to come back to when we are feeling unsure of ourselves. My hope is to help guide you to discover your core values, as well as discussing the benefits of doing so.

Choosing Your Core Values

You may value many things in your life, creating a list so long you may not even remember it. Even looking up images of values on Google produces hundreds of potential results for you to choose from. It can be overwhelming to glance at these lists and think, “I value almost all of these in my life!” While it’s great to value so many positive things in life, it’s vital to discover your core values. Your core values are your top three to five values that guide your moral compass every day. They are your set of beliefs that influence how you treat yourself, how you treat others, and how you influence overall.

Nobody but yourself can choose your core values for you; they must resonate with you at your core and feel like second nature. These values support who you are as a unique individual. To choose your core values, first you need to look at a list. Consider your life experiences (both beautiful and painful), your accomplishments, how you behave naturally every day, who you want to be as you continue to grow, and people you admire and look up to. Can you identify any patterns? Maybe some of your core values are born out of some of the most painful moments in your life, or maybe you aspire to be more like your favorite mentor and want to hold their deepest value at your core as well.

If you struggle to figure this out, here is a free personal values assessment. Remember, with all assessments, you will need to determine how true the end result is for you. Keep a notepad next to you with all the values you hold and compare with the assessment result to see if you agree on these top five as your core values. I took the assessment result and found the assessment rang true for my core values: 1) Compassion 2) Health 3) Curiosity 4) Peace 5) Love.

Benefits of Identifying Your Core Values

As mentioned, the benefits of identifying your core values are vast. Along with guiding your moral compass and decision-making process, identifying and acknowledging your core values can help you achieve the following:

  • Find your purpose in life: What do you want to do and who do you want to be?
  • Guide behavior: When pursuing habit building and identifying your growth opportunities, discovering your core values makes it easier to behave authentically. Additionally, your core values will serve as your moral compass when dealing with difficult situations or people.
  • Increase your confidence: Your core values will make you feel more secure in yourself; the more you know yourself and the more you feel guided to make the right decisions in life for you, the more confident you will feel in yourself and those decisions.
  • Better decision making: This was mentioned, but your core values will help guide your decision-making, helping you make decisions that are best for you.
  • Establish your individuality: While there are certainly others who will share your values, chances are they won’t share all of them. You can further solidify the unique individual you are by fully knowing yourself, and that means you need to discover your core values.

Pursuing Your Core Values Daily

Once you have your core values, you should pursue them daily. Every decision you make, conversation you have, and thoughts you allow to permeate your mind should always come back to your core values. You can ask yourself every day if you are staying true to yourself and upholding your values. As we always say at The I in Team series, your influence is your single greatest responsibility as a human being. To pursue your most positive influence, strive to inject your core values into your thoughts, words, and actions.

When you discover your core values, you discover more of yourself. While we all value several things, the ones at our core become our guiding compass in life and allow us to make the best decisions, be confident in ourselves, and find our most positive influence. No two influences are the same, as no two people are the same. Grow into your individuality and own it authentically when you find, be, and build your core values.

Fixed vs Growth Mindset

Fixed vs Growth Mindset

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. I have mentioned a few times in past blogs fixed versus growth mindsets and it seems to be a topic that many people are curious about (which is awesome!). At The I in Team series, we strongly value a growth mindset and believe that a growth mindset is imperative to securing your positive influence.

The growth and fixed mindsets are terms coined by Stanford psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck, who studies human motivation through psychology and sociology. Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, expands upon her theory of the growth versus fixed mindset. The brain is just like any other muscle in the body; it can be grown and developed with some patience, hard work, and mindfulness. However, if you convince yourself that you cannot grow your mind, then you won’t.

Fixed Mindset

Those who experience a fixed mindset believe that they cannot grow. They believe their abilities and intelligence are stagnant; essentially, that we are born with what we have, and we can’t do anything about it. A fixed mindset becomes a vicious cycle, one that is difficult, but certainly not impossible, to break. There are several factors at play in this cycle. It starts with the belief that you cannot grow, learn, or develop. Enter: Confirmation Bias. Once you believe something, your mind will look for information to confirm that belief and reject information that doesn’t fit. So, anytime someone with a fixed mindset fails or doesn’t live up to their or others’ expectations, their minds reaffirm that they cannot grow, learn, or develop. This pushes those experiencing a fixed mindset further into this belief.

Another reason confirmation bias plays such a huge role in the fixed mindset is because those who have a fixed mindset put limitations on themselves. They develop learned helplessness because of this belief. They cannot recognize their own deficiencies, meaning they cannot correct them. You would need to believe that you can learn and grow to correct behavior, so those experiencing a fixed mindset cannot even admit to themselves that they have faults because that would require them to do something about it.

Qualities of the Fixed Mindset

Below are some qualities of those who are currently experiencing a fixed mindset:

  • Believes that failure is an end
  • Very resistant to change
  • Rejects new ideas immediately
  • Views feedback and criticism as a personal attack
  • Less likely to take creative risks and be innovative
  • Avoids problems out of fear of failure
  • Documents and attaches self to past achievements without striving for new ones
  • Lacks open-hearted kindness, meaning they feel that encouraging others to succeed or be happy could make themselves look bad in comparison, so they avoid empowering others or being genuinely happy for their success


Those who are experiencing a growth mindset are, essentially, the opposite to those who are experiencing a fixed mindset. These are the individuals who believe, and know, that they can grow, learn, and develop. They recognize the brain as a muscle that can be worked. When individuals experience a growth mindset, they believe that they can master any skill or talent as long as they put in the effort to do so. Like the fixed mindset, confirmation bias plays a huge role here as well. When individuals believe that they can grow, learn, and develop continually throughout their entire lifetime—no matter their age, abilities, talents, skills, or intelligence—they perpetuate this belief through confirmation bias.

When those who experience a growth mindset fail, they view it as an opportunity to learn and try again. They do not become discouraged or use negative self-talk to bring themselves down. They uplift themselves, and through their confirmation bias they solidify their belief that they can grow, learn, and develop. Individuals who have a growth mindset make excellent leaders as they are the ones who are continually working on themselves and their positive influence. They know that they cannot be their best influence if they believe that they cannot grow. Additionally, those who experience a growth mindset believe that others can grow too, often encouraging others to take on challenges, fail, view things in different lights, and develop themselves.

Qualities of the Growth Mindset

Below are some qualities of those who are currently experiencing a growth mindset:

  • Believes that effort can cultivate new intelligence, skills, and talents
  • Views failure as an opportunity
  • More likely to take creative risks and innovate
  • Embraces problems as opportunities to learn
  • Views feedback as a chance to improve
  • Views life as an exciting journey for continuous growth and practice
  • Has open-hearted kindness, meaning they encourage others to succeed and find happiness while feeling genuine happiness for another person’s success and happiness

Switching Between Fixed and Growth Mindsets

It is absolutely possible to switch between these mindsets. While it is less likely for those who have a growth mindset to switch to a fixed mindset, it is possible. There are circumstances in life that could lead someone to break a belief in themselves and stop growing, learning, and developing. More likely is that someone would switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. The tricky part is that nobody can do this except for the individual. By this, I mean that those who are experiencing a fixed mindset will need to muster up the courage to face their ego and say they are wrong to believe that they cannot grow, learn, and develop. Developing positive self-talk will be imperative to moving from a fixed to a growth mindset. Those with a growth mindset can help those experiencing a fixed mindset by providing guidance, insight, and encouragement, but until those experiencing the fixed mindset change their own internal self-talk, they won’t change. It all starts with you and only you have the power to change yourself and your mind.


Our world is full of individuals experiencing either a fixed or growth mindset. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is better, but I certainly know which I think is better to perpetuate a positive influence. At The I in Team series, we believe that cultivating the most positive experience for yourself and those around you includes believing in yourself and encouraging others. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re tearing yourself down. If you don’t encourage others, you harbor feelings of resentment. These do not put any positivity into our world. You deserve to enjoy life, to laugh at mistakes, and to get to know yourself and how far you can go. Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” If you don’t allow yourself to grow, how can you truly know yourself?

Top 6 Successful Leadership Qualities

Top 6 Successful Leadership Qualities

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team Series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. If you think about current and past leaders of organizations, do any of them possess the same successful leadership qualities? Several studies have shown that leaders are different as much as they are similar. However, there are six qualities that are shown to be possessed by the most successful leaders. The leaders who possess the below six qualities run organizations with team members who are more driven, creative, enthusiastic, productive, and positive.

Being Goal Driven

Leaders should be results oriented; this is how organizations thrive and strive. Successful leaders who are goal driven do two things:

1) They set and achieve their own goals

2) They help others set and achieve their own goals

Part of being a successful leader is ensuring everyone on your team is aware of your organization’s goals, as well as encouraging them to set their own goals. If their goals align with the organization’s goals, that’s great! When everyone on the team is aware of the current goals and is striving to meet those goals through their own goal setting, organizations will almost certainly succeed in their industry. Leaders must motivate their team to set and achieve their goals, as well as giving them the tools necessary to do so.

Having Excellent Communication

Employing excellent communication skills is imperative for any leader, especially if they are going to successfully aid in their team’s goal setting and achievement. Leaders who know how to communicate with a diverse set of individuals while ensuring everyone stays on the same page requires practice, patience, creativity, and energy. One of the most powerful tools successful leaders have is their spoken word, privately and face-to-face, with an employee. One-on-one communication followed up with supportive action can reap tremendous results. Consider establishing an open-door policy, if you don’t already have one; if you need focus time, schedule that time for yourself consistently and communicate to your team why you need the focus time and when you will be taking it.

Empowering Others

Empowering others, in part, means making them feel good and like they are valued. Some people possess the quality of being able to transfer positive energy to others, thus, empowering them. Behavioral experts refer to this as positive energy transference, and this brings out the best in others. When your team feels empowered in their abilities and understands that they are valued in the organization, they will strive to meet their and the organization’s goals. Successful leaders can empower employees by getting to know them, understanding their dreams, and helping them link their dreams to the organization’s vision, mission, goals, or values.

Having Empathy

Having empathy for your team aids in successful leaders’ ability to communicate and empower their team, and vice versa. Empathy is the ability to recognize, categorize, and understand an emotion another individual is feeling, as well as being able to communicate or demonstrate that understanding in a way that makes the experience positive for the team member. One of the keys here is avoiding toxic positivity and not making the conversation about yourself. Show your team you care about them by being empathetic to their needs, feelings, goals, and current situation.

Being Pragmatic

While it may seem that being pragmatic goes against having empathy, this is not true. In fact, being pragmatic can aid successful leaders in their pursuit of empathy and empowering their team. When leaders understand that part of human nature is emotion, coupled with the fact that life is messy, they can use pragmatism to communicate more effectively. Being pragmatic doesn’t mean doing away with emotion, it means the opposite. It means taking into account all the variables, understanding your team, and making decisions that are practical. Being pragmatic combined with empathy is a step towards high emotional intelligence. To be practical, leaders must have a wholistic understanding of their team.

Having Structure & Being Organized

Without structure or being organized, leaders couldn’t possibly create successful organizations. Leaders must be structured in their work, remaining consistent and organized to maintain order within the team. If leaders can help their team remain structured and organized as well, their team members will stay on target for deadlines, be more likely to meet their goals, and remain productive.


Successful leaders are ones who employ positive habits for both their own and their team’s benefit. The above six qualities are shared by nearly all successful leaders. To be a positive influence on yourself and your team, you must continually grow, learn, and develop positive habits. If you are lacking any of the above, identify what you would like to work on and ask for outside accountability to help you develop your goal. If you require leadership coaching, contact our team at IA Business Advisors. We would love to help you find, be, and build your positive influence.

Avoiding Toxic Positivity

Avoiding Toxic Positivity

Hi team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team Series, where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. A few weeks ago, IA’s Gratitude Group discussed toxic positivity and its effects. Toxic positivity is the belief and pressure to ignore negative or painful emotions, putting a positive spin on even the hardest life events. Toxic positivity often leads to emotional repression, forcing individuals to believe that they should feel ashamed for feeling negative emotions or like nobody understands them. Avoiding toxic positivity can be beneficial for you and people around you. While it’s okay to have a positive attitude and outlook, ignoring the other side of emotions can be detrimental to your health.

Internal Toxic Positivity

Internal toxic positivity is when you don’t allow yourself to feel and accept your emotions, often telling yourself to stay positive. This is typically due to shame for feeling the emotion. Emotions are part of the human experience, so to avoid internal toxic positivity, follow these three steps.

Be Transparent

Being transparent with yourself about what you are feeling means having enough respect and self-compassion to allow yourself to feel. When you’re honest with yourself about your emotions, you make it easier to get rid of those emotions. Additionally, you can also weaken their hold the more often you are honest with yourself about them. By acknowledging their presence, you avoid emotional repression.


Knowing when you are feeling emotional is typically easy, but classifying those emotions isn’t always easy. For those who have been repressing their emotions, emotional identification becomes more difficult as they are typically classified as the highest-ranking emotions (anger, sadness, happiness). Additionally, it’s always possible there are multiple emotions present at one time. This can, again, make it even more difficult for those repressing their emotions to categorize the emotions they feel. One tool that can be used to aid in validating and identifying emotions is an emotion wheel. Emotions are valid, but the more you understand them the less power they have.

Have Empathy

Empathy and self-compassion are imperative to avoiding toxic positivity. You may feel both grief and happiness at the same time, and that is normal. Having empathy for yourself means realizing that emotions are part of the human experience and that you are allowed to have them. Empathy encompasses validating, identifying, and understanding your emotions, but with yourself.

External Toxic Positivity

Avoiding being toxically positive with others may be difficult if you are toxically positive with yourself. While you work on being less toxic with yourself, consider using those same (or similar) tactics with others. Below are three steps to avoid toxic positivity when interacting with others.


While being transparent with yourself requires you to listen, you also need to listen to others. By listening to others when they are describing their emotional state, make them feel acknowledged, heard, and validated by repeating back to them what you hear. For example, “I hear that you are experiencing immense grief right now,” or, “It sounds like that event made you feel very angry.” Don’t offer unsolicited advice, but if you want clarity on what they are looking for, ask them if they want advice or someone to empathize with them.

Have Empathy

Empathizing with others is a lot like empathizing with yourself. Showing empathy means being able to understand other’s emotions and demonstrating that understanding through some kind of support. Having empathy for the bad parts of being human is okay. Yin and Yang come from ancient Chinese philosophy and methodology, representing complementary forces, like good and bad. The symbol for Yin and Yang denotes there is some good in the bad and some bad in the good. Having empathy for others (and yourself) means accepting this fact.


To avoid toxic positivity, you have to change your language. Toxic positivity often sounds like, “good vibes only,” “everything happens for a reason,” or, “it could be worse.” These are invalidating statements that can make people feel shame for feeling emotions. Emotions are not something to be shameful of. Replace these phrases with, “all vibes welcome,” “life is full of peaks and valleys,” or, “you aren’t alone in this experience.”


While positivity serves us greatly in many regards, when it becomes toxic positivity it becomes detrimental to our mental health. Overcoming toxic positivity and emotional repression is not an easy task, but it is possible. It takes willpower and habit building to rewrite your mind’s natural way of thinking. To continue spreading your positive influence, you must have compassion and empathy for the spectrum of human emotions, both with yourself and those you influence. Once you do so, life will, ironically, become more positive.

The Influence of a Simple Gesture

The Influence of a Simple Gesture

Hi team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team Series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. I have a question for you: Are simple gestures a thing of the past? I’m thinking handwriting a thank you card or note for someone you haven’t seen in a while, leaving an encouraging letter on a co-worker’s desk, holding the door open for a stranger, or even simply smiling at someone on the street. It seems that some individuals have forgotten the positive influence a simple gesture can bring. If you want to be a positive influence, consider bringing simple gestures back into your life after reading the below.

Slow Down

One of the easiest justifications for not performing or creating a positive act for another person is that we are simply too busy. Life is fast paced. We become caught up in our own worlds and next thing you know we’ve missed someone’s birthday or an important milestone. Being a positive influence through simple gestures never has to take a lot of your time, but it will require you to slow down and be more present. Do you understand the influence that small actions have on the overall perception of who you are as a human being

When you slow down just enough to spark positivity in someone else’s life, whether you know them or not, you increase your positive perception in their minds. You may have a perception of yourself that is positive, but the perception you hold of yourself is rooted in your world view. Others perceive you quite differently; that’s why some people love you and others dislike you. Furthermore, if you spark positivity in someone’s life, you are giving them some of your energy to be used elsewhere. Your influence ripples out from you. If you set the example, slow down, and offer sincere, positive, simple gestures, others may follow you. This creates a chain reaction of positive events, something we need more of.

Positive Influence

By becoming the catalyst for positivity and overall positive influence, you create a reputation for yourself. Not only do you create a reputation for making others feel good, but they will most likely want to be around you and develop a relationship. When you can uplift others with your positive influence, you not only show others who you truly are but you, again, set the standard for behavior. While not everyone is the same, meaning not everyone’s positive influence looks the same, this still sets the precedent that we should try to instill positivity in others’ lives, whatever that may mean to us and however we may do that. Using simple gestures to demonstrate positivity takes minimal time and energy out of your day and means the world to others.

Don’t Take Others for Granted

Often, when we forget about simple gestures, like saying please and thank you, or hello and goodbye, people may feel taken for granted or forgotten. It’s easy to take things personally, and others may not be so easy to let you off the hook for making them feel undervalued. Taking others for granted, whether it be the tasks they perform, the energy they bring, or even their daily routine, can cause negative influence. Respecting others’ time and the value they bring to the team can only bring positive influence and make them feel like they belong. Remember your influence when the fast-pace of life tries to force you to take those around you for granted.

Simple Gesture Ideas

simple gesture ideas


We could all use a little more positivity in our lives, and one way we can do that is by performing simple gestures. Don’t mistake this as a giving only exercise; by giving positivity to others and seeing how your positive influence affects them, that brings you back positivity, too. All that is needed to create a positive experience for yourself and your teams through the use of simple gestures is to slow down, remember your influence, refuse to take others for granted, and choose one thing per day on the list above. Can you imagine a world where people slowed down just enough to care about how they influence others? I can, and it’s a much more beautiful world. We can create that together. It starts today, with you. Are you ready to be a positive influence?