Box of Crayons Blog


5 Core Values & 3 Strategies to Leverage Your Own

At Box of Crayons, we help organizations transform from advice-driven to curiosity-led. We do our best to stay true to our values and incorporate them into our work each and every day.

Our five values are: 


Inquire and interrogate. Humility fosters learning. Failure promotes innovation.
Great questions even over good answers.


Share authentically. Assume positive intent. Meet others where they are.
Engagement even over excellence.


Aim for precision and simplicity. Navigate ambiguity with grace. Good design matters.
Process even over outcomes. 


Take courage and challenge directly. Clarify and communicate expectations up front. Follow through.
Real understanding even over presumed harmony.


Support individual growth. Promote human flourishing. Regenerate what you take.
Embrace the long view even over chasing quick wins.


Today, we’d like to share a blog from Dr. Chantal Thorn, Director of Program Development, who speaks to the importance of defining your values as a step to greater authenticity. 

Values Schmalues? 

Ugh. I know. Do we have to talk about values? But stay with me. I want to delve a little deeper into some of the constructs that help us to understand that “icky” feeling we either immediately or inevitably experience when we don’t behave authentically.

Let’s cover two things: Values and Cognitive Dissonance. And then we’ll wrap it up by exploring how the two work together during our moments of inauthenticity to wreak havoc on our energy and happiness.


Values are the things you believe to be important in the way that you live your life. They’re fundamental beliefs that should (hint, hint) guide your priority setting: what you do and don’t do, for example. And whether you’re consciously aware of your values or not, they are there. The way they interact with your behaviours impacts your level of happiness. And so, spending some time defining your values is an important step to greater authenticity. 

Cognitive Dissonance

Psychologist Leon Festinger suggests that humans have an inherent need to experience consistency between knowledge or beliefs (e.g. smoking causes cancer) and behaviours (e.g. quitting smoking). Cognitive dissonance is what we experience when there’s a discrepancy between our beliefs and behaviours (e.g. continuing smoking, while knowing it causes cancer). Because we don’t like dissonance (that “icky” feeling I referred to earlier), we’re prompted to reduce it and make it go away. How can we do this?

We have a few options:

  • We can focus on more supportive beliefs that outweigh the dissonant behaviour (e.g. smoking relaxes me, so it’s okay…and at least I don’t drink!).
  • We can reduce the importance of the conflicting belief (e.g. so it causes cancer but I’m not that worried because I’m probably going to get cancer anyway).
  • Or, we could drastically change (at least, on the surface) our belief so that it’s consistent with our behaviour (e.g. I don’t actually believe that smoking causes cancer).

Here are three strategies to help you get clear on your own values and use them effectively:

1. Identify your values

Write down a list of five to ten values that come to mind when I ask you, “What’s most important to you in life?” Try to narrow down any concepts to one-word answers. For example, if you’re thinking “I value a loving relationship with my partner,” I suggest you name that value Love.

2. Prioritize your list

This can be time-consuming. You’ll have to coach yourself and ask questions like:

  • Which of these is really the most important to me?
  • If I can only experience one of these values, which would I choose?
  • Is value X more important to me than value Y?

3. Review your list and use it

Over the next little while, when faced with a decision about how to spend your limited time, look at your list. It’s your own self-identified list of the things that are most important to you. And then see where the request fits. Will the request bring you closer to or farther away from your values?

Using these to prioritize your time — what you say yes and no to — will decrease the likelihood of cognitive dissonance and increase your ability to live authentically, aligned with the things that truly matter to you!

Dr. Chantal Thorn
Director, Program Development 

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2 Responses to 5 Core Values & 3 Strategies to Leverage Your Own

  • Mandy

    This was a good article and I got a lot from it. However, I’m not sure that I personally can agree with process even over outcomes in elegance. This cannot be applied over every situation, only where the outcomes do not have a direct impact on a person’s wellbeing.

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