June 23, 2020
When first asked this question I honestly struggled. I have never sat down and quantified this before. I have certain rules I live by, and a desire to always improve myself, but could they be my values? I was unsure. First of all I had to identify what is a value. I went well down the rabbit hole on google, and found example lists of what values are, but I felt I couldn't really relate to majority of the items on those lists. Hitting a brick wall of uncertainty, I reached out for help, I asked my wife, my sisters, my friends, and my instructor at Dev Academy for help understanding what it was that I was searching to define. Through these conversations I was introduced to tools, and ideas, and responses that helped me understand what these "values" were all about.
My eldest sister introduced me to a activity called Personal Values Card Sort 1 which was a process of sorting a list of 50 personal values into three categories, Not Important To Me, Important to Me, and Very Important to Me. From this you can go through the list of Values and identify how you feel about each one. You can then from your resulting groups, narrow them down further until you reach your top three values. Going through this process greatly helped me understand what a value is and what values are important to me.
I value honesty above and beyond all things. I have High Functioning Autism / Asperger's, and as such I often misunderstand subtle nuances in conversations. Especially when people are hinting at things without actually stating them. For me to understand things I need 100% honesty, no holds barred, to the point many people would consider themselves rude. However it is with that direct honesty that I am able to fully understand. I also return that honesty. Because I abhor lying. I am always honest, to the point that rather than tell a white lie, I will ask if someone really wants me to answer because it will likely hurt. I strive to be Honest, to have integrity, and to be dependable and reliable.
Since the moment I learnt of my autism, I discovered that my normal was not normal. That if I was to survive and flourish in life I would have to be better. I would have to learn how to adapt. I would have to learn how to grow and overcome challenges that are not necessarily normal. Things as simple as how to hold a simple conversation with more than one person, required me to completely understand the areas in which I struggled, and figure out how to be better. This started me on my journey of self discovery, and growth. And as I learn more about myself and where I struggle, I continuously try to improve myself. This desire for improvement has grown with me, and is no longer limited to making me be able to assimilate like a normal person, but rather to learn more about everything, to be interested in everything, to push myself in ways that are external as well as the internal. I want to be the best that I can be, in all areas of life. This doesn't mean I want to be better than anyone else, the only people I want to satisfy is myself and my wife.
My dream since I was younger was to find a Woman to love who loves me and to have a family. I have met and married my dream woman. And while we haven't started on the kids yet, they're not too far away. I spent my life searching for love, to find someone who would love me, who I could love with all of my being. The thing that I didn't count on when I found her was how much she would push me to pursue those things important to me. She loves seeing me happy, doing things that bring me enjoyment, and a sense of satisfaction. She loves to see me pushing myself to improve myself. Her love enables me to be better than I could ever be alone. In her response as to my values she states "Anthony is an ever evolving man. He always strives to be the best person he can be. His key values for me are honesty, hard working, loyal, and self improving."
This question requires being looked at from a slightly different perspective. It is not a racial culture that has influenced who I am, but rather the culture in which I was raised. The situations and circumstances in which I was exposed to, has demonstrated to me the importance of my core values. A majority of the hardships and difficulties I faced growing up, at their root boil down to the causes of dishonesty, stubbornness / inflexibility and selfishness.
It is due in large part to these situations that I value honesty, love, and growth. Because if you are honest with each other and yourself, there is nowhere to hide any skeletons. If you accept your mistakes and strive to improve yourself you will not blame others for your failures rather you will be a better person. And if you truly love someone, you will support them no matter what they do, you will be there for them, encourage them, let them hate you if that is what they choose, because that is their right to do so, all the while you can love them and be there for them when they need you. My culture has shown me how not to be, and so it is that I strive to be better.
My weaknesses are many, I struggle to understand things in conversations with people, I struggle to follow multiple peoples conversations at the same time, I struggle to foresee consequences to actions, I struggle to read people, if I upset someone and don't understand what I did wrong I struggle to figure it out without being told what I did. Primarily my weaknesses are localised around social skills and emotional maturity.
As plentiful and prevalent as my weaknesses are, my strengths are more numerous. What I see as my biggest strength, is my ability to accept that I'm wrong, my readiness to hear criticism and how I can improve, and subsequently my drive to improve based on that feedback. My wife Nicole stated "Anthony and my relationship has grown a lot since the moment I met him. He has this super power to improve.". This comes back to my key values of Honesty (identifying issues) and Growth (being better). Ultimately all of my strengths boil down to my key values. I am honest, loyal, dependable, hard working, accepting, forgiving, I value the input of others, and am ready to help out wherever I can.
My "superpower to improve" will definitely help me with learning, as it is all part of how I learn about myself, how I learn about new things, and how I absorb all of that information. I will definitely encounter obstacles, such as this task, as when I started this I had no idea what it was all about or how to proceed. But I took my knowledge of my weakness in this area and talked with people who are strong in this area and they were able to help me understand and figure out what needed to be done.
Working with ones wife is never easy, or so the cliché goes. However in this story, it proves that it's not always her fault. We were building a tabletop for a side table together. We were both involved in the planning and the building of it, however at one point we encountered some tension.
My wife had chosen a special bit of wood for the tabletop, which we both wanted to use, with the unfortunate feature that it was not "square". It was in fact slightly rhomboid, and all of the design was getting thrown out of of whack. In an attempt to true it up, I undertook the process of planing down the offending edge to make it square. Unfortunately the nature of the wood, meant that it was very fragile, and in my attempt I accidentally ripped a large chunk off the wood.
It was at this point I could see that I was only one plane stroke away from true, and if I could get rid of that section we could glue the chunk back on. However my wife with her ability to see the big picture, told me to stop because I would only break it more. Of course we know what happened next, I said "She'll be right" and dove on in, ripping the wood clear in half. And thus created a significant amount of tension.
It was at this moment I knew I had screwed up, and my wife was done with me for the time being. I proceeded to use every method at my disposal to get the edge true, and then glue the pieces back together again. Upon doing so, I tracked my wife down, and said every wives favourite phrase, "You were right, I'm sorry."
1 - Personal Values Card Sort - W.R. Miller, J.C'de Baca, D.B. Matthews, P.L. Wilbourne - University of New Mexico, 2001