Values: What You Do Even When Nobody’s Looking
Values aren’t buses. They’re not supposed to get you anywhere. They’re supposed to define who you are. ~Jennifer Crusie
When 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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