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Top Three Values: Part I - Self-Honesty

Earlier this year, I was asked to do a “values” exercise and identify my top three values. After making several lists, ranking and re-ranking my finalists, I eventually settled on the following:

  1. Self-Honesty

  2. Accountability

  3. Open-Mindedness

Since there are three months left in 2023, I’m going to dig a little deeper into each of my top three values and think about why they made it to the top of my list. My intention is not to convince you they should be your top values–you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. But I thought by sharing why each value is important to me and how I’m going about incorporating them into my life and work, maybe it will give you a roadmap for finding your own top three values and finding ways to practice them.


There have been times when I thought just believing something was enough to make it so. I was a master rationalizer who could explain away any red flag and only see what I wanted to see. This was especially true in relationships. I thought if I could just look past all the bad behavior, I would see that deep down they really were the person I wanted them to be. But I couldn’t and they weren’t. Inevitably it ended…usually badly.

And it wasn’t just relationships. I did this with jobs, friends, and all aspects of my life. Eventually the disappointments, heart-breaks, and anger added up. Several self-help books and therapy sessions later, I’ve learned there’s no benefit to pretending things are any different than what they are.

This might sound defeatist, and you might be saying, but what about “fake it till you make it”? I’m so glad you brought this up! When done well, FITYMI can actually be an excellent practice in self-honesty. People are often overly optimistic about their abilities and circumstances, but they can also be overly pessimistic.

Usually when I hear people refer to “faking it till they make it,” they aren’t talking about “faking” their educational experience or qualifications. FITYMI is usually about pretending to be braver and more confident than we actually feel. If it’s done with integrity, you end up being more honest with yourself about who you are and what you are capable of.

Like any value, self-honesty isn’t a finish line you cross, it’s a practice you evolve and grow. There always seems to be another opportunity to put on my rose-colored glasses and turn away in the interest of not rocking the boat. But every time I have been brave enough to see a situation clearly and make choices based on what is true—not what I wish was true—it has served me well.

The reason self-honesty is at the top of my list is because it feeds into my other values, and it is a solid foundation on which I can build goals, relationships, my career, and my life.

What does self-honesty mean to me?

  • Seeing myself clearly—Warts and all

  • Defining what I need

  • Defining what I want

  • Celebrating my strengths

  • Acknowledging my weaknesses

  • Vocalizing what I believe to be right

  • Admitting when I am wrong

What does it allow me to do?

  • Make decisions. When I’m curious enough and courageous enough to ask questions and get the answers I need, I can make more informed choices.

  • Build and keep relationships. By understanding the role I play in growing or damaging my personal and professional relationships, I’m able to foster ones I want to grow and let go of ones that aren’t good for me.

  • Take care of myself. When I’m honest with myself, I know which actions serve me and which ones don’t.

Resources and Inspiration for self-honest:

He’s Just Not You Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo


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