Your Values and Your Success
Values are those things that really matter to you ... the ideas and beliefs you hold as special. Your values are guides to decision making in ambiguous situations. I'm a John Mellencamp song. One of his songs "Stand" really gets at the heart of personal values. There's a line that goes "You've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything." I couldn't have said it better. Values are the things you stand for. When you're clear on where you stand, it's difficult for someone to pull the wool over your eyes.
For example, honesty is a value that many people hold. There is a great Aesop's Fable about honesty.
If you don't know about Aesop's fables, they are a collection of stories that back to the 6th century BC. According to the legend, Aesop was a slave who collected the stories that bear his name. These stories contain timeless lessons that are reflected in many of the values people hold today. There are more than 300 Aesop's Fables.
"Mercury and the Woodman" is an Aesop's Fable that illustrates the importance of honesty as a value. It goes something like this...
A guy was cutting down a tree. He lost his axe into the river when it glanced off the tree and went into the river. Mercury (the God) showed up and asked what happened. Mercury listened to the man and then dived into the river, and came back with a golden axe. The guy who lost the axe said, "That's not mine." So Mercury jumped back into the river, and came back with a silver axe. "That's not mine," the guy said. So Mercury returned the silver axe to the river. This time he came back with the axe that the guy lost. "This one is mine," he said. Mercury was impressed with his honesty and gave him the gold and silver axes as well. The guy told all of his friends this amazing story. One of his friends decided to trick Mercury. He went to the same spot and threw his axe in the river. Mercury showed up and dived in to recover the lost axe. When Mercury came back with a golden axe, the man said "That's mine." Mercury was no dummy. He knew the second guy was lying so she kept the golden axe, and refused to recover the original.
The moral of the story -- honesty is the best policy. And, for our purposes here, if you value honesty, you won't lie cheat or steal.
That's the way values work, and why it's important to clarify your personal values. They will serve as guides to decision making when you find yourself in ambiguous situations. You won't try to claim the golden axe as yours.
I have a set of personal values which guide my life. They are...
Effort -- I always do the very best I can at everything I do.
Human Dignity -- I treat all people with the respect and dignity they deserve as fellow human beings.
Willingness to Help -- I help others wherever and whenever I can with no strings attached.
Family -- I am a supportive and loving husband.
Common Sense -- In addition to the five senses -- touch, taste, sight, sound, smell -- I believe we all have a sixth sense -- common sense. I use my common sense to guide my decision making. I help my clients and friends use to making better life and career decisions by applying their common sense. Common sense is not just my brand. It's the way I live my life. I use my sixth sense to help me make personal decisions and to help my clients make business decisions.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people clarify their purpose and direction in life. Your personal values are an important part of your clarity of purpose and direction. Values are guides to decision making in ambiguous situations. They center you. They provide you with a touchstone when you are trying to make important decisions. If you have not already clarified your personal values, I suggest that you do so -- the sooner the better. You'll find that clarifying your personal values is time well spent.