Teaching Arts Entrepreneurship: Discovering Values Game

I like to play a game with my students, which helps them to clarify their personal value systems. It is important to understand what we each value, in order to create clear goals. This is a game I discovered in the writings of Joseph Campbell.

Here is the game:

First: Tear off 5 pieces of paper.

On those 5 pieces of paper, write down 5 separate things that you believe you cannot live without. Now, I do not mean air, water and food. I mean things that are deeply and personally meaningful to you. Perhaps you want to write down “My Girlfriend”,“Mom and Dad”, if that is what you feel–or perhaps a certain friend. Perhaps you might write the type of work you love, your lifestyle, etc. Whatever it is, write it down–one item for each piece of paper.

Go ahead and play the game. Take the adventure and receive its potential insight.


Ready? Have your 5 items?

Let’s imagine that we are walking through a great forest and we have to cross to the other side to the sunlit valley. However, as we are crossing, a big ogre appears, preventing you from going further, from going where you need to go. That ogre says, “I will let you pass, but first, you must surrender that which you value least”.

Now, go ahead and look at your items and drop one of them. Have courage and play the game.

Once done, we continue on our forest journey. But…wouldn’t you know it? Another ogre appears and he says the same thing. “Surrender that which you value least”.

Go ahead.

We continue. Same thing. “Surrender that which you value least”.

Now you should have only 2 things remaining in your hand.

Surrender that which you value least.

Go ahead.

Once done, that one thing in your hand is, apparently, what you value the most.


Tough game, eh?

Did you find any surprises in your choice making? You can keep your discoveries private, if you like.

Did you give up the game because of guilt? If so, that is the most boring story of all–the adventure note taken. I then urge you to go back and play the game. Heed the call.

Knowing what our value systems are helps us clarify our goals and intentions and can help us gain a clear sense of direction regarding what we want to build or manifest in our lives and careers.

Jim Hart

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