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Values: What You Do Even When Nobody’s Looking

2013 May 28

Values aren’t buses. They’re not supposed to get you anywhere. They’re supposed to define who you are. ~Jennifer Crusie

Core ValuesWhen was the last time you gave any thought to your personal “values?” If you had to think about it or can’t remember; that just means you’re normal because most of us tend not to give them a lot of thought on a daily basis.

There’s this interesting exercise that I often use in personal growth workshops where we talk about core values. First attendees take the time to identify as many of their core values as possible. Then they conduct a personal evaluation and share whether they believe they are living their values on a daily basis. It’s the same in every workshop – the overwhelming consensus is “Yes, absolutely!”

Next we do an exercise where I have each participant make a list of commitments, relationships and all the significant things they are spending their time on now. Finally we compare values to reality and while results vary, in some cases attendees are shocked to find a gap wide enough to drive a truck through. Of course this exercise isn’t about fault finding, it’s about becoming more self-aware and understanding how easy it is to let following the path of least resistance become a way of life.

Before we go further let’s take a quick look at a few examples of values …

ambition, competency, individuality, equality, integrity, service, responsibility, accuracy, respect, dedication, diversity, improvement, enjoyment/fun, loyalty, credibility, honesty, teamwork, excellence, accountability, empowerment, quality, efficiency, dignity, collaboration, stewardship, empathy, accomplishment, courage, wisdom, independence, security, challenge, influence, learning, compassion, friendliness, discipline/order, generosity, persistence, optimism, dependability, flexibility

Why do values matter?

Your values are important because – consciously or not – they help determine your way of life. Let me give you an example of how this can work for or against you.

Let’s say it’s the end of the week, and it’s been a really tough one. You’re exhausted and scrambling to finish a report before you can close things up and head off for the weekend. The problem is you’ve spotted what may be a problem with the figures provided by another department, and now you’re faced with a choice. Use the figures anyway – because after all they may be just fine, and even if they aren’t you’re in the clear because someone else will get the blame if there’s a problem. OR, you could suck it up and start backtracking and take the extra couple of hours to make sure all of the information is accurate before submitting your report.

It may not seem like a big deal at the time, especially when you’re tired and no one else is around to know, but here’s the bottom line … your core values, not the ones written on a list somewhere, but the ones you are living, are the actions you take – each and every day – when nobody is looking.

Here are a few inspirational thoughts to ponder on the topic of values …

  • Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ‘em all over everything you do. ~Elvis Presley
  • It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are. ~Roy Disney
  • Great values are built on strong moral foundations. Men become great when they allow these values to take root within their souls and live by them. ~Lincoln Patz
  • Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain. ~Author Unknown
  • If you don’t stick to your values when their being tested, they’re not values: they’re hobbies. ~Jon Steward
  • There is a voice inside of you that whispers all day long. ‘I feel that this is right for me, I know that this is wrong.’ No teacher, preacher, parent, friend or wise man can decide what’s right for you – just listen to the voice that speaks inside. ~Author Unknown
  • There is no better test of a man’s integrity than his behavior when he is wrong. ~Marvin Williams
  • Each of us should have a philosophy about how we conduct ourselves with others. A long time ago, I chose as my standard the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Some might consider the Golden Rule corny and old-fashioned, but no one can deny its simple truth. Imagine how much better our world would be if everyone lived by this creed. ~Mary Kay Ash
  • Integrity is the ability to accept past choices and actions and go forth and act in accordance with one’s deepest values from within. ~Lynne Namka
  • To be ONE, to be united is a great thing. BUT to respect the right to be different is maybe even GREATER. ~Bono
  • Respect yourself to walk away from ANYTHING that no longer serves you or makes you HAPPY. ~Author Unknown
  • I choose the higher road – the path of charity, acceptance, love, selflessness, kindness. ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie
  • I learned to GIVE not because I have much but because I know exactly how it feels to have NOTHING. ~Author Unknown
  • Helping others entails learning how you are helped. In order to heal others, you must learn to heal yourself. Learning how to give to yourself is part of learning how to give to others. If you are stingy with yourself, you will be stingy with others. When you understand how everything is given to you, you will e able to give everything to others. ~Rob Anderson
  • The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor. ~Vince Lombardi
  • Integrity is the ingredient that will enable you to forge rapidly ahead on the highway that leads to success. It advertises you as being an individual who will always come through. Whatever you say you will do, do it even if you have to move heaven and earth. ~Mary Kay Ash

Living true to your core values is one of the most powerful tools available to you to help you be the strong, self-confident person you want to be, and to help you accomplish your goals and create your ideal life. Have you thought about your values lately? Which core values define what is more important to you in your life?

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19 Responses
  1. Arianne from cable tie permalink
    June 9, 2013

    I think integrity is very important. In fact, it determines our character when nobody is looking or watching. Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. June 7, 2013

    Love this post Marty. I recently have done some assessment of my own personal values. One beauty of them is that you can change them.

    Values are a big part of your identity so knowing them helps define who you are.

    Love you site and thanks for the inspiration!

  3. June 2, 2013

    Hi Marty,

    Values are something we can sometimes think we have. It is important to track ourselves and get deep into our soul to see how much we value.

    As I read through your examples of values, I did take time to be honest with myself and track my yes or no’s. I was inspired!

    My mindset is based on many values. I am grateful all during the day for the many things around me. From a robin bird following me around my garden, to giving thanks for my wonderful husband and children.

    I think it is those little things that pump up our sense of what we value and what we give. Each morning I sit on my back porch with my husband and brainstorm our day. While we do this, we notice the wonders of nature around us. From an ant carrying his injured friend back to his nest, to a neighbor needed help pulling his garbage to the curb.

    Awareness is the key I think. And all this gives me a sense of purpose that makes me happy.

    Thanks for another amazing post,
    Donna Merrill recently posted..Take Ownership Of Your Online BusinessMy Profile

  4. June 1, 2013

    Love this post. I used to evaluate myself from time to time if I am still living the values my parents taught me. I know there are times I forget about them and not living in them, but I do try to make up with the values I missed.

    • June 3, 2013

      So glad you enjoyed the post Connor. I don’t think it’s realistic to attempt to stay on top of all of our values at all time, after all there are so many to choose from. But I do think that each of us have 2 or 3 core values that – consciously or not – we tend to live by and those are the ones that we want to stay connected to as we set our sights on goals and dreams.
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Stop Acting Like You Know MeMy Profile

  5. May 31, 2013

    The Elvis quote is awesome. Such a great collection and such a thoughtful article.
    Respect yourself to walk away from ANYTHING that no longer serves you or makes you HAPPY. ~Author Unknown. When we can do this we know we are in alignment with our values
    Namaste ???
    Suzie Cheel recently posted..BEach Inspiration: BE FinishingMy Profile

  6. May 30, 2013

    Great post, Marty! You are so right about the difference between what we say our values are and what they really are. I had never heard the Elvis quote before, but it is amazing!
    Steve Nicholas recently posted..The Life of Pi and Losing FocusMy Profile

  7. May 30, 2013


    I have to admit I’ve not given my values much thought lately. I know they are there, guiding me, but I’m not necessarily present to them.

    Gandhi’s quote is so important. It lays the responsibility of our fate and destiny right at our feet… just as it should be.

    And this one caught me off guard – Elvis Presley. WOW! I had no idea he was so insightful.

    I deeply honor and respect – honesty, integrity (keeping one’s word), loyalty, family, work, humility and creativity, to name a few.

    Thanks for bringing my values back to my thoughts.


    Rick Lelchuk recently posted..Leadership: The Power of the FollowerMy Profile

  8. May 29, 2013

    great article and always important to be reminded of.
    hopefully if we model values and teach them to our children they will carry them into a new generation
    moondustwriter recently posted..With Truth #poetry #latin #photographyMy Profile

  9. May 29, 2013

    Some years ago we performed an exercise that determined our career values and that exercise, more than anything else, has motivated my professional path since that day.

    When faced with a choice I think about my values and consider whether or not the choice I’m about to make aligns with my values. I try to set aside extraneous considerations like status, money, etc. because those are not my values (though they may be someone else’s).

    I consider myself lucky to have learned by examining my values I can live life on my terms and not worry about conventional advice or what someone else might do. I can do what’s right for me, as long as it does not cause harm to others.

    Understanding our values and using them to determine the course of our lives is a beautiful lesson. Thanks for sharing!

    Have a grateful day!

    Chrysta Bairre recently posted..Getting through a rough patchMy Profile

    • May 29, 2013

      Sounds like you are in-tune with your values Chrysta … your observation about how your values may differ from someone else especially resonates with me since “tolerance” is one of my core values. It is so true that once we become clear about the values we hold most dear, it becomes much easier to make the important decisions in life. Thanks for sharing!
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Values: What You Do Even When Nobody’s LookingMy Profile

  10. May 29, 2013

    Being true to yourself is sometimes the highest form of praise that you can receive from any source. I can tell you from experience that being presented with a choice that is not easy to make when no one is looking presents you with an opportunity to define yourself. We are all so concerned with how we appear to others. Sometimes, I feel we should be more concerned with how we appear to ourselves. When we are true to our own values and live with personal integrity, our need for external validation becomes less important and we are able to live life in the moment and more fully. Thanks, as always, for the reminder :-)
    Dave recently posted..Crossing the bridgeMy Profile

    • May 29, 2013

      Welcome back Dave, and thanks so much for taking the time to share your insights on the subject of values. I especially like your observation about how we tend to be so concerned about how we appear to others … to a great degree this is human nature, which is why regular self-discover ‘reality checks’ are so useful. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. :-)
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Values: What You Do Even When Nobody’s LookingMy Profile

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