If you have never taken the time to identify or define what your values are, or what your belief system is, don’t sweat it because you are not alone. As a matter of fact, most people just assume they know what their values are — they know what belief system they follow to make decisions in life and in business.
Recently I found myself going through this exercise again with a few people whom I coach, and a company I work with. We talked about what their mission was, we discussed and strategized on their vision, and when it came to values, well, they either struggled a little bit or came up with the most common values that almost everyone starts out with; honesty, integrity, continuous learning, engagement, open communication, etc.
Here is why they struggle or come up with those common values: They get the order wrong. What happens most times is that individuals and organizations typically start out with trying to define their mission, vision, and values. And it’s usually attempted in that order. Maybe they begin with a mission statement or a vision statement. And once they have completed those, then they try and come up with the values that best represent them or their company, or the values they hope to be recognized by as a person or organization.
My suggestion is always to reverse the order. If we know what we value most at work and in life, we can begin to place a value on that. And once we truly know what it is that we value, and the foundation of our belief system, we can then create the vision for how we can live out those values personally and professionally. And now that we know the values that drive us, and what we see as our vision and opportunities ahead of us, we can now determine our mission and how we can be the best person we can possibly be, providing the best service to others we can possibly provide, and be better positioned to live out our mission and purpose.
It starts with valuing our values. What currency do we place on our values? Where are we willing to compromise on our beliefs? If we are not rooted in our values, how can we even attempt a mission, mission statement, or vision for our lives or for our company? Will we compromise our values for money? Will we discount our belief system to work at a company where we know our values are not aligned? Will we concede on what fundamentally drives our company in order to hire someone who is not a fit culturally or aligned with our values? Too often, we all, or at least most of us, make this mistake.
Why does this happen? Why do we make this mistake? Because we assume that we know what our values are — I mean doesn’t everyone? Of course we think we do. And maybe we even think that we ourselves live and work by the virtues we respect the most. But until we take the time to write them down, identify them, define them, understand them, and commit to them, we can never place the proper value on what it is that we value most and what we will not give up or compromise.
One of my very favorite quotes when it comes to personal and professional values comes from Roy Disney, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
So how about you? Have you gone beyond just assuming you know and live by a certain belief system, and have identified and understand what you value and why? Are you confident that your belief system is driving your vision and mission? I really would love to hear your value, vision, and mission story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we can place the right value on what we value most, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a resident of Highlands Ranch, the Chief Revenue Officer at Eventus Solutions Group, Strategic Consultant, Business and Personal Coach.
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