What are Aung San Suu Kyi’s values?

I was talking to a third sector coaching client yesterday about the stunning victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, in Burma’s recent byelection. We’d just finalised a list of her unique set of core values and wondered what Suu Kyi’s values might be?

Patience, we could only presume. She had, after all, survived 22 years under house arrest. How about Optimism? Justice? Compassion? Neither of us had met her, so we couldn’t be sure, but we felt these were likely to be the drivers that kept her focused and strong after all those years. Perseverance? It’s certainly a value she would have to honour for the potentially rocky journey on the road to full democracy.

My clients often mistakenly think that values have a moral dimension. But this isn’t the case. Nor are values reserved for the likes of Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. They are not something you ‘want’. They are something you ‘have’. Everyone has these non-tangible ‘must haves’ which drive you to live life in the way you do.

I like to think of values as running through us like the writing in a stick of rock. They are truly who you are. When values are honoured, you feel happy and fulfilled. When you dishonour them, you are discontented and uncomfortable.

My clients tell me that unearthing their top five or so values is the most useful self-development work they have ever done. They put their lists on fridges and in wallets for easy reference, aware that they are a foolproof blueprint for how to live and work.

Knowing your values gives a rock solid understanding of:

– how your core strengths can be used most effectively for the benefit of your third sector organisation

– why tensions arise with certain colleagues or in particular situations and how you can resolve them

– how you can motivate others and be motivated when the going gets tough

– how to best use your time outside work so you have a great life balance

– how to plan your career absolutely in line with who you truly are.


I can help your staff to expand their self awareness and effectiveness at work through my one-to-one coaching and training. If you would like to talk to me please contact me here for a no-obligation phone chat.

 For more tips and ideas on getting the best out of your third sector staff follow @katieduckworth on Twitter.