Spille’s Toolbox: Core Values


For many years I’m writing about the mental challenges in the music business. I also give coaching and guest lectures. Lectures though are too long to summarize in a blog post, and coaching sessions are confidential, so I don’t write about it. When a musician was very positive recently over the tools I use in coaching, I suddenly realized, that I can share my toolbox with you, Spille’s Toolbox for a Healthy Mind in the Music Business.

Many musicians and people in the music business are struggling with deciding what direction to take. Certainly now, many people wonder what to do. The basis for the best decision lies within yourself, is my solid belief. One of the guide you can turn to, are your core values. I’m talking about the moral values you live by. Values develop in early childhood already. They might shift a bit, from fairness to honesty and back, or from patience to persistence and back, depending on the circumstances, but they will basically stay with you.

A good way to explore your core values, is the quality quadrant of Daniel Ofman. I use it for moral values instead of qualities. With this model, you give a context to your values. It helps you to understand yourself and how others react to you. Knowing your values also provides you a guide line to make the right decisions on whom to work with or what way to go in your career.

Let’s start in the pink corner. One of my own core values is fairness. Thinking of fairness, my thoughts immediately go back to one of my first memories. I was 4 years old. My aunt was visiting with her daughter. Before bedtime, my aunt gave her a beating. I run crying to my mom: “Auntie is hitting my nice, that’s not fair!”.

In the green corner you see the pitfall. When you don’t feel well, too tired, too stressed, you cling to your value in a negative way. Your value can become an obsession. For me it means, that I get rigid and that I start counting. Every one on the table has to get exactly the same amount of potatoes on their plate. That’s always a sign for me to slow down, to take some time off.

Going to the blue corner, you take the positive opposite of your pitfall, and you get your challenge. The positive opposite of rigid for me is freedom. Freedom plays a very important role in my life. I’m struggling with it, and I’m also fighting for it. The choice to move on my own from Germany to the Netherlands didn’t come easy for me. Though it opened my horizons in unimaginable ways. When you want to work with your value, you also have to accept your challenge.

Too much of the challenge brings you to your allergy in the yellow corner. For me, too much freedom means arbitrariness. I can not stand arbitrary behavior, like in the example with my nice. Actions according you your allergy are threatening your value, you can react pretty fierce to it. Like I did last year at a conflict, when I was treated unfair, in an arbitrary way.

When using this value-quadrant in coaching, I do it in a very open atmosphere. You need to listen to yourself when working with it. When searching for your value, pitfall, challenge and allergy, the words have to resonate with you. Make some time for it, it can take hours. And if you have found the right word, you will immediately associate it with many examples from your past.

The context of your quality also helps you to understand others better. Imagine that I would work together with a person that has independence as its core value, and who will act arbitrary (pitfall in this case) when under too much stress. Can you see the clash?

This model does help you to put your core values in perspective, and also your challenges. It made me understand, why freedom is always such a struggle to me. It’s the logical consequence of having fairness as my core value. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have to struggle with freedom anymore, on the contrary. It gives me more guts to choose for freedom, even when it’s a struggle.

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