One of the questions I ask when I start working with a new client is about values. Most business owners cannot answer me. They have never thought about their values. They are not sure why knowing their values might be important. They are sometimes confused about the question. Some have assumed that values are the same as morals and in 21st Century Australia that can be a trickier area to discuss. Others have experience of being part of a business that has a core value statement which sits in a document along with a vision statement. Sometimes these core values are very relevant to business activity; but usually, they are forgotten and have no impact on to day-to-day business operations.
Now, people always have values. It is just that not many can easily articulate their values. This requires doing some work on yourself to know what is important to you as you pursue your business goals.
What are values?
“Values – principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life.” ~ Oxford Dictionary.
Values are not morals. Morals are usually linked to faith or a belief system. Even though you may hold to morals strongly, they began as external to you. Morals rarely change.
Values are more intrinsic. They describe what is genuinely important to you. They articulate what you stand for in life. Do you value honesty? Trust? Adventure? Family? The even bigger question follows, ‘Is your life congruent with your stated values?’ For example, you might say you value family, but be far more motivated at work than you are at home.
Values are not just a nice list of words to impress yourself or others. They must reflect the essential and inner you. You need to be self-aware. If your daily lifestyle ‘says’ you like to get up late, work short hours, take long lunches, and not work very hard, then it would be incongruent to say you value ‘excellence’ or ‘winning’. You really value ‘comfort’ more than ‘hard work’.
Values develop over time and will change with time. They emerge from family, culture, faith, beliefs, and life experience. Your values are an expression of your inner self. The clearer you are about them, the easier it is to be consistent during the challenges and pressures of business and life.
Why are values important?
Values will help you in the following ways:
- Make decisions. When you are clear on your values, it is much easier to make decisions. You have a set of articulated guidelines that you can use to assess the consequences of every decision. When your values are real, you never want to compromise them. Your values will help you avoid unethical business deals. They will help you stay clear of business relationships with unethical people. They help you at tax time.
- Set priorities. Your values are an expression of what is truly important to you as you go about pursuing your business dream. It is amazing to me how work can overwhelm everything else that is precious in our lives. If your values include your personal relationships, your family, your health, then you will be clearer on your priorities.
- Build trust. If you are unpredictable in your decisions people remain unsure of what to expect from you. Having clearly defined and articulated values which you allow to inform your life, makes you easier to know, more consistent and more trustworthy.
- Accountability. Values that are clearly articulated give you a standard to which you can be accountable. They will allow a close friend, your partner, or a mentor to keep you accountable. Such accountability is a HUGE protection against the biggest competitor in your life – you. Your values will keep you from self-sabotage.
- Reduce inner conflict. When you are living congruently with your values you will be at peace with yourself. For contentment in your life, you must be a peace within. If you are conflicted because you are compromising your values, it will hurt you emotionally and spiritually. It may be the cause of addictive behaviour. Such conflict can be the root of anxiety or depression. When you do the work to bring your life in line with your values you will increase your self-respect which is the foundation of internal security and inner strength.
From personal experience in my own life as well as lessons learned from hundreds of clients over 12 years, I urge you to take a little time out to clarify your personal values. Values that are real and obviously lived will enable you to create a successful and rewarding life.
If you are unsure how to proceed, I can lead you through a process that will help you. Book a call here.
I wrote an article a few years ago that outlines some of the ways you can discover your own values.
By the way, my personal values are:
- Life-long learning
- Grace (a second chance)
- Success (i.e. achieving a meaningful result).
They help me in all the ways outlined in the 5 points above.
I’d love to know your personal values.