What is it all about

After a (too) long break, I am back with this new post using a scene from the movie Risen.
Risen is the story of Clavius, a Roman Tribune in Judea (played by Joseph Fiennes), who is tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Yahshua (Jesus) in the weeks following his crucifixion, in order to prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.

What do we see in this scene?

Clavius is meeting with Pontius Pilate who wants him to do his bidding and find the body of Jesus. However, before to enter the topic, Pontius wants to know what he can expect from Clavius and to do so he scales and analyses his values.


Values are states of mind and principles that are usually expressed in nominalization. They are abstract and drive our motivation and goals. Tony Robbins says they “are like a compass that directs your life”. Values motivate and demotivate, and they justify our behavior. With other words, our values are unconscious and personal principles we live by such as love, honesty and freedom.

Values elicitation

We all have values; those that attract us also called towards-values and those that rebuke us also known as away-from values. Poverty, for instance, may be an away-from value that will motivate a person towards “prosperity”.

Values, however can be hard to discern. We often tend to mix them and each of them has a personal meaning (nominalization). The way I perceive and define honesty is not necessarily the same way as you do. By eliciting our values we can better understand our drives and motivations. This can help us understand why we chose a path or took a specific decision rather than an other one. By knowing which values are really important to us, we can act accordingly and live congruently – meaning, act upon our values and our being.

By knowing other people’s values we can better understand their state of mind and reasoning, thus helping us communicate and work with them.

Values contexts and hierarchy

Our values are expressed differently in the contexts of life. We may have separate sets of values for work, home and external relationships. Some people can be very responsible at work while being childish at home. This can also relate to the question if a leader is born or nurtured. As a leader, our set of values may depend and be activated based on the requirements in a definite context.

A set of values also has a hierarchy that defines the importance of each value – a bit like Maslow’s pyramide. We often tend to believe that the one value we talk most about is the most important one. It’s often the opposite!
Like the iceberg metaphor, the one value we cherish most, is probably the first level on our values ladder.
For instance “freedom”. While some of us cherish freedom, it may be a means rather than and end. What happens once we have freedom? What do we gain with it. For some it can be time for others, the possibility to choose.

In this scene we have an excellent example of values elicitation and their hierarchy. Pontius Pilate, as well as us, do better understand what drives the Tribune.



Clavius recites his values, one by one by order of importance: Position -> Power -> Wealth -> Family…
All that in order to arrive to Peace, which seems to be the end of the road and the top of the ladder.
In this case Peace is Calvius’ core value. Core values are the most abstract if not spiritual of all values. It is not possible to go higher and in most cases each person has one top core value, which can be such as Love, Inner Peace, Oneness, Being or Self.

Knowing about our core value helps us understand what drives the other values. While peace seems a simple objective to obtain on personal level, inner peace is actually a life’s path. As Pontius Pilate says, “all that for peace… Is there no other way?”
Each person with inner peace as core value will have his own set of values that he will use to take decisions and actions in order to strive for this inner peace.

By knowing that inner peace is what drives him, Clavius can better relate to all his actions. Pilate on the other hand, understands that at the end of the day, what Clavius is looking for is inner peace and not love or oneness and that makes a big difference. Someone with love or being might have very different reasons to act, and even if both people would take the same action at a given time, the reason behind them can be very different. Inner peace for instance, is more focused on the person itself than say love or oneness that go beyond that person.

Peace hands

Core transformation

Within neuro-linguistics programming (NLP) one can learn or be assisted in combining several tools such as value elicitation and timeline to relive past experiences while knowing what is their core value, thus understanding and transforming their experience of these events. This also includes understanding better ourselves during a future given event.

Values and leadership

By leading our lives knowing what are the values driving us, we can improve the quality of our path. Leaders on the other experience it on two levels. First on themselves as individuals, and secondly, in their leadership context. By knowing about their people’s values and understanding what really makes them who they are, leaders can lead by coaching and be the one person that people really want to follow, that is, if their values are indeed compatible.