Regardless of who we are, where we come from, or what we do, we all have values. Usually where we come from and how we were raised heavily influence those values.
I grew up on a farm in a small Midwestern town. My parents are conservative people from modest beginnings. Obviously, those factors played a huge role in shaping my own values.
When I started my entrepreneurial journey, I spent a lot of time examining my values and making sure that they were at the center of my business plan.
While I wanted to make certain that I would build my business on honesty and integrity, I knew there was more to it than that. I realized that if I was to be successful, it was essential that my core values were clearly evident in every aspect of my business.
SO HOW DO I DO THAT?
While the process may be a bit different for everyone, I believe it always starts with putting your values down on paper in a clear and concise manner. For example, my core values are:
CHARACTER: I want to be remembered as a man of integrity and strong character. Someone who is honest, trustworthy, and truly cares about other people.
FAITH: My faith in God is the most important thing in my life.
FAMILY: Only my Christian faith comes ahead of my wife and children. They are my everything.
FREEDOM: I value time and the freedom to have full control of it. I want to live life by my clock, not someone else’s.
WORK ETHIC: I believe there is no substitute for hard work and doing things the right way.
When you write them down, maybe even share them with others, there is real ownership and accountability to live them out in all you do.
BUT HOW DO I MAKE CERTAIN I AM ALIGNING WITH THEM?
I think this is a fair question. It’s one thing to write them down, but living them out is an entirely different animal. It requires effort, diligence, and accountability.
Putting your core values in writing is important, but if you are truly going to emulate them day in and day out you must reflect on them often and be honest when you look in the mirror.
Personally, I spend a lot of time reflecting on business meetings and interactions with clients and other business professionals. Typically, I ask myself these questions:
Did I engage in a manner that demonstrated I care about the client and their needs?
Did I model strong character, honesty, and integrity?
Did I demonstrate that my faith, my family, and my freedom of time are important?
Did I do anything that would compromise, or contradict my core values in the eyes of others?
Because often what we do speaks more loudly than what we say. So we must reflect on these things often and analyze our behavior so that we can grow as a person.
When we are honest with ourselves and willing to make changes based on our self-evaluation, the more we develop into the business owner we are all striving to be.
IS THAT IT?
It’s a big part of it, but I think it’s important to take it a step further.
There are other factors that indicate whether or not we are aligning with our values than just how we act or speak in our interactions with others.
What about our priorities? If my faith and my family are the highest of my core values, do my priorities reflect that in terms of how much time and attention they receive?
Honestly? Not all the time, which is why it is a constant area of focus for me and one I strive to improve upon every day.
What about the work that we do? Are we doing good work for others that we enjoy and are good at? Or are we just taking the opportunities that come?
I think one of the biggest areas of growth for me, and a true reflection of aligning with my core values, was when I started saying NO to things I didn’t really want to do or wasn’t particularly good at. If I truly believe in freedom of my time, then I should be focused on doing what I love and doing it well.
Life is too short to spend your time doing things that make you miserable. In the end, you will put it off too long and miss a deadline or the quality of your work will be poor, and you will fail your client.
There is certainly more to all of this, but I will leave that for another day. For now, I trust you will find this helpful as you build your business. If you have questions or simply want to dig deeper, I’d love to speak with you. You can reach me at email@example.com.