Often you know of yourself what your motives are and what you are good at, your talents. But to really develop your talents, you need to know how you value yourself and the world around you. And that is something that many of us are not aware of.

The value pattern for personal development consists of six universal values. A low appreciation of one or more of these six values prevents them from being fulfilled. A person then limits himself in his freedom to develop. How does that work? What can you do about it?

Feeling, thinking and doing

Man is a machine. A machine developed through 3.5 billion years of evolution. Built from three systems: a belly, a head and a heart. Three systems each with its own function, respectively feeling, thinking and doing. And these functions we can apply to two worlds: yourself and the world around you. This gives us six functions which we can appreciate or not.

Six values to realize potential Six questions for personal development
1. Sensing yourself > Who am I?
2. Thinking logically about yourself > Where do I want to go?
3. Doing for yourself > What steps do I take?
4. Sensing other > Who are the others?
5. Thinking logically about the world > What is logical?
6. Doing for the world > What do we have to do?


A value is something that a person or society feels is worth pursuing and is desirable. It seems clear to me that every human being who is born wants to develop to become a mature human being. And that it is important and desirable to make use of what nature has given him. If someone doesn’t find that valuable, he becomes unbalanced.

The degree to which we appreciate or do not appreciate the six values therefore indicates the degree to which we find them worth pursuing and desirable. And that is determined during our upbringing and experiences as a child.

We are usually not aware of this. Adults have developed a value pattern in their upbringing and unconsciously transfer it to children. As a child we become unbalanced when an adult with authority does not appreciate the important functions of a child (or of a human being in general).

This lack of balance causes the child to function less well. If this goes on for too long, a person will develop less well, or eventually not develop at all.

Because of this dysfunction someone cannot, or cannot sufficiently, answer one or more of the six important questions for personal development. Questions that are not all equally valuable to someone out of balance.

Case study: insufficient appreciation

Let’s use a simple case to describe how, through insufficient appreciation of one of the six values, development is hindered and, in the worst case, comes to a standstill.

Annie is thirty years old and has just become manager of a helpdesk in an ICT company. She will be managing fifteen employees. Her supervisor is confident that she will develop into a good manager.

1. Sensing yourself > Who am I?

When Annie doesn’t value her feelings and emotions about herself, she doesn’t value what her belly wants to make clear to her. Namely, what she enjoys and what she does not enjoy. As a result, Annie works very hard and is ambitious. But it is difficult for her to judge when it is too much, when she should take some time for herself, when she should delegate a task because she is not good at it or does not like it.

She ignores her feelings out of insecurity and this causes her to be sick more often when she is busy or stressed. Exploring her feelings and listening to them is scary for her, unconsciously reminding her of childhood experiences that her ego likes to stay away from.

Because she suppresses her feelings – and has done so for a long time – it is difficult for her to answer the following question: who am I? She sees feedback as a personal attack, which causes her to bite off fiercely and act dominantly. She shields her insecurity and comes across as ambitious and self-confident. But in the meantime she is uncertain about her suitability as a manager.

2. Thinking logically about yourself > Where do I want to go?

In undervaluing logical thinking about herself, Annie does not invest in making a plan for her future. She just doesn’t think about it. She doesn’t think it’s necessary either, because things always go differently in life anyway.

Annie has never known what she wanted. She chose her study because friends were going to do the same. She started working at the ICT company by chance, because she was asked by someone she had met during an internship. Since she has a good brain, she can easily handle her work. Thus, she was also asked to become a manager. Annie has never thought about that before. She has a pick-the-day mentality and lives very much in the now. As a result, after she has been doing something for a while she starts to wonder whether this is what she really wants. This was the case during her studies and after a year as an employee.

The question now is whether being a manager is something she wants or something that happened to come her way. The most important question for Annie to ask regularly is: where do I want to go?

3. Doing for yourself > What steps do I take?

What steps do I take? This question is difficult to answer for someone who does not know what activities are important in the role a person is filling. Annie, in her new role as manager, will take on work that she is better able to delegate. She will have to get used to her role, because before she did the work herself and therefore also has the knowledge to carry out work in detail.

She does not always have the courage to take on new activities, or she simply does not see them as her responsibility. Her heart does sometimes start beating faster but she does not respond to it adequately. She is driven to do her tasks well, but the way she goes about it raises questions from her supervisor about whether she can delegate enough.

4. Sensing others > Who are those others?

Suppose Annie does not value understanding other people. Then, for example, she will not readily be inspired by experiences, other people’s views or opinions on leadership.

She does not easily seek people out. Shows little interest and does not ask questions that help her understand how others have dealt with the challenges of leading. She finds personal questions and needs of employees to be just nagging. She is likely to learn by doing and by reading a book on the subject. But asking someone else to tell their story is not something she does.

Annie could develop further by regularly asking the questions: who are these other people? What makes them unique? How do they lead?

5. Thinking logically about the world > What is logical?

If Annie does not value logical thinking, she will have no need to structure and line her vision of leadership. Therefore, she does not consider taking a course, or joining a school, to be important. She talks to colleagues about their experiences as managers and she likes that, and it gives her energy.

She also finds sharing her experiences in groups, so that others can learn from them, valuable. But processing inspiration and experiences and thus increasing her knowledge of leadership she does not. And she is not interested in facts, logic, visions and methods; she finds them too theoretical. The question that is important for her to ask is: what is logical in order to lead in a structured and orderly way?

6. Doing for the world > What do we have to do?

Leading people means bringing people into your plan for the department. The key then is to transfer your knowledge and vision. For this, it is important to become creative and resourceful, and make good use of the resources at your disposal to reach out to different people. Tasks must be divided to achieve goals within set deadlines.

If you don’t appreciate making this translation into practice, there will be insufficient cooperation. Simply because instructions are misunderstood and task descriptions are unclear.

The important question then is to regularly ask: what do we have to do? Or: how are we going to cooperate so that we can achieve our common goal?

Develop the potential

Every healthy born human being has the potential to develop himself. That is why I speak of universal values. They apply to every human being, regardless of gender, culture, race or creed.

But whether a person uses the potential that evolution has given him depends on his value pattern as described above. If one or more of these values is not appreciated, there will be a delay in the degree of development. And thus in the extent to which someone develops his potential.

It is important to find out how someone values himself and the world around him. Then you can investigate how that value pattern came about. And how that has influenced and still influences the development.

This is an awareness process that often starts as a young adult, when someone has finished his studies and has worked for a number of years.

That is why it is important for an organization to facilitate conversations and interventions for its employees. Conversations and interventions where the six values and questions are central to support people’s development and to capitalize on their talents.

This article is a translation of an article I wrote for BG magazine. A number of authors were invited to write about ‘Values in Work’ from their own expertise.