A Personal Values Story

Although from Belgium, my values story started in central France. As a teenager I rebelled against my father and his seemingly all-consuming world of metrics and numbers, quantity and money. At the age of 18, I went to Taizé in Burgundy, France where thousands of young people gather every week with an ecumenical Christian monastic fraternity. My very first mind-shift there opened up an inner world of deeper meaning and quality of life. This experience was so life-alteringly resonant that for the next ten years, I spent several weeks per year as part of the Taizé community.

Following that first experience in Taizé, I spent the next three decades focusing on personal growth and continuous learning as my life’s purpose in three areas: as a volunteer (almost deacon) in local churches in Belgium, Burkina Faso and Chile; as a teacher of religious education and pastoral care and bereavement advisor, with a focus on creating optimal values-based learning environments; and as a father, where I wanted to be fully present to create the kind of home for my children I yearned for as a child.

Over the years, I have worked with various frameworks relating to emotions, virtues and values. My resistance to all things metric shifted when I came across the values work of Richard Barrett and his seven levels of consciousness model. This allowed me to combine the inner work with numbers and indicators. The values assessments enabled staff, students and parents to initiate in-depth values dialogues, resulting in the creation of culture plans for whole school alignment.

Healing the relationship with my father was a transition in my life more than ten years ago. It allowed me to acknowledge what David Brooks calls the ‘first mountain’. I hear many people talking about their shift in life from ambition to meaning, the ‘second mountain’. Reflecting at the time, I realised that I’d been primarily focused on this second mountain since that first visit to Taizé, leaving the first mountain to take a back seat because of the relationship with my father.

My personal life journey has been and still is a values-based process of expanding inner space, having moved from religion to spirituality and beyond. During a recent Camino experience in Spain, I had glimpses of an ultimate coming home with my soul purpose: “I am a pilgrim for life, walking my divine essence and sharing with others how the way is the way.”

Today, based in the UK, I work globally as a systemic facilitator of transformation, with leaders, teams and organizations, schools and communities, sharing what I have learned along the way:

  • Growing in consciousness helps people to flourish, and leaders and organisations to thrive;
  • All values have the potential to be limiting when there is an excessive focus and attachment;
  • All transformation starts from within, as the outside is a reflection of what lives inside;
  • Leaders are called to be a role model for the transformation they want to realise in their team and organisation;
  • The shift from not enough to enough opens up a new reality of shared abundance for all;
  • The shift from problems and obstacles to possibilities and opportunities aligns and bridges mountains;
  • The realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is our collective imaginal dream and legacy.

Patrik Somers, May 2020