Family Meeting #01: Personal Values Bracketology

In a recent post, I shared a blueprint for how to run a great Family Meeting. Some of you have asked me to share some of the actual exercises I’ve used to cover a variety of personal development topics over the years. I’m hoping you’ll use these meeting templates with your family. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

basketball bracket frames values

My history with the game of basketball is spotty at best. The pinnacle of my career was the 8th grade. There I stood, 5’ 0”, sporting a bowl cut and white tube socks pulled up to my knees.

My signature move was to hurl myself at the opposing point guard in order to make a magnificent steal. I would quickly scoop up the ball, charge down the court for an easy uncontested layup, and then throw up a brick that would clang off the bottom of the rim.

Despite my basketball challenges, I’ve always been a big fan of March Madness. Each year, I download my NCAA bracket and forecast which of the competing teams will move onto each progressive round until a single champion is left standing.

I began to wonder, what other uses could the simple head-to-head bracket serve? For example, I’ve seen achievers struggle to get clear about their personal values. This is unfortunate as living inline with our personal values is key to our fulfillment, success, and happiness. Could a simple bracket help us get clear about what matter most to us?

I decided to create my own brand of bracketology: a round-by-round competition to determine which personal value would rule them all. I was pleased with the result, so I decided to incorporate it into a Family Meeting. Now it’s your turn!

Personal Values Bracket

Personal Values Bracket

Meeting Preparation

  • Download the Personal Values Bracketology worksheet (PDF)
  • Print 1 bracket for each family member
  • Bring 1 pen or pencil for each family member

Meeting Setup

Say something like:
“Personal values are our perceptions of what is good, important, useful, and more in the world and in our lives. Our values help us choose goals and make decisions. This exercise will help us determine our most important personal values and learn about what each other value. There are no wrong answers.”

Activity Instructions

  • Ask each family member to complete a bracket by starting with Round 1 and progressing round-by-round through the championship.

Meeting Debrief

  • “Which was easier, choosing winners in Round 1 or in the Finals? Why?”
  • “Give an example of somebody (a historical figure, a famous person, or somebody you know) who has demonstrated your highest value in his or her life.”
  • “Share an experience or an example from your own life when you were able to demonstrate your highest value.”
  • “In the next 30 days, what could you do to bring more of your highest value into your life?”

Why This Meeting Works

  • Our values ground us. Knowing our values serves as a type of compass for goal setting and decisions about where we should spend our precious energy and attention.
  • It’s hard to start with a blank sheet of paper. Starting with a list of examples makes it much easier.
  • The bracket format forces choices. This makes it tough – particularly in the later rounds – but the end result is a prioritized list of our highest values.
  • We get to compare our own value choices to those of other family members. This is my favorite part! Some will be the same and others will be different. Learning deepens our love for one another.

(Featured image by


How did your bracket turn out? Share your meeting experience and what you learned about yourself and/or your family members in the comments section below.

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