Orenda Week 3 What are My Core Values?

During Orenda’s last group session, we asked students to dive into some of the most important questions they could ask themselves: what kind of life do they want to live? And what sort of person do they want to be? Students also verbalized what made them feel happy, motivated and defined, as well as described and defended what things are most important to them.

Building on top of the discussion from last week, this week we helped students explore examples of people who live according to different sets of values. We helped students prioritize their lives according to their own values.

Pictured Left: Students listening to Brandon share his personal journey and story.

What do we value?

In order to have power and control over our own lives, we need to know what we want. When we try to live our lives without knowing what’s important to us, we are like ships sailing on an ocean without a guiding compass to point us in the right direction.

For many people, their values are the most important to them. In this week’s workshop, we asked students to identify their core values by working through an exercise we prepared for them. This famous exercise is known as the 6 Lives Exercise and was created by Professor Richard Shell at the University of Pennsylvania to help his graduate students better understand themselves and the life they wanted to create.

We adapted this activity for our Orenda students and guided them through it, helping them refine their core values.

Pictured Right: The 6 Lives Profiles, and what they represent.

The 6 Lives Activity

The 6 Lives activity starts by giving each student six different paragraphs of fictional people. Each paragraph describes the life of a different professional. For example, one paragraph describes a teacher who has a fulfilling 20-year career as an educator. She leads her science bowl team to championships and mentors multiple aspiring scientists; however she is estranged from one of her two daughters. Another profile describes a high-powered wealthy investor who “parties hard and plays hard” and has enough power and wealth to influence powerful figures. However, he is divorced and has no children. Yet another profile summarizes the life of an highly successful investment advisor who, in his 50s, quits his job to take on a role at a nonprofit service organization in Africa because he now hopes to commit his life to impact.

Each of these profiles is flawed and imperfect in their own way, though each also has clear strengths.

Students are asked to read each of these profiles and then rank them one through six in terms of “most successful” to “least successful.” No ties are allowed.

After Orenda students were done reading and ranking, they shared their number 1 and number 6 rankings with each other. Some students were surprised to hear what they ranked as their most successful was someone else’s least, and vice versa. Orenda coaches then facilitated discussions between the students around how each student came to conclusions about which profile was the “most successful” and why.

Discovering What We Value In Life

The purpose of this activity is for students to highlight for themselves what’s important to them. When Professor Richard Shell came up with this activity, he wrote each profile with a different dimension of “success” in mind. For example, the teacher’s profile represents a life devoted to teamwork and mentorship. The wealthy investor represents power, fame, status and freedom. The nonprofit executive’s profile highlighted the importance of following a spiritual or higher calling towards service.

After students understood how each of the profiles they read represented a different aspect of success, they were asked to then reflect upon whether they live up to their values. With the help of Orenda coaches, students wrote down and shared areas in which their lives aligned and didn’t align with the values they just uncovered. In small groups, we then discussed these “authenticity gaps” that students revealed about themselves, how they felt about them and what they wanted to do about them.

We will build upon this theme of aligning your actions with your goals next week when we cover the topic to building habits that help you achieve your goals. We will present the research of Stanford psychology BJ Fogg on how people form habits, and we will help each student find a habit that they can build to close the “authenticity gap” between their values and their lives. Many students enjoyed our 6 Live activity and told us that they learned about what they deeply care about. We hope students now take these reflections and put them into action, which is something that Orenda will help with.


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participating in Orenda Academy, please fill out this link:

Spring 2018 Interest Form

We are also holding a limited number of spots for Spring 2018 virtual coaching where coaches work online with students located outside of the Bay Area. Please indicate if you are interested. You can also email us at carl[at]orendaacademy.com.