Are you letting your values matter? Are you consistently honoring your core beliefs and living in alignment with the things that matter most? You are not living your values for yourself only. There is a ripple effect that moves and expands your actions such that they can have a far-reaching impact, more than you may ever know. That’s a way you make our world a better place.
Straying from the Path
“Our values are like points on a compass. If you were lost and had a compass, you could use it to see if you were, in fact, moving in the direction you wanted to be.” ~ Robert D. Zettle
Years ago, I was hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. The trail is usually pretty obvious and it is well-marked with painted blazes, plus I always carried a guidebook that described each section of the trail. As long as I watched for the blazes and followed the guide, I was sure to stay on the trail.
One day, though, I needed to refill my canteens. According to the guidebook, there was a water source off the trail about a quarter of a mile. So I headed off down a hill, through the woods. I got to the stream, filled my canteens, and turned to start back up.
I had no idea which way to go. There was no discernable path back up to the trail. To make matters worse, I didn’t carry a compass. I’d never needed one before. So even though the guidebook said the water source was southwest of the trail, that didn’t help me at all.
I didn’t know what else to do, so I started climbing back up the hill. It took much longer than the trip down to the water, but I eventually stumbled across the trail again. Huge sigh of relief. And . . . I always carried a compass after that
Why Values Matter
As Robert D. Zettle said in the opening quote, our values act like a compass, showing us our own “true North”
Values give us a sense of purpose and direction, not on the physical plane of North or South, but on a moral plane of living our best lives, our purposeful lives. They show us the path forward in all situations and help us make better choices.
Values bring clarity when you are faced with difficult and important decisions. Your values help you know your “true North” and guide you to make the right choices for yourself. This helps bring clarity to confusing dilemmas. By living from your values, you make wise and healthy decisions that lead to success in the long term.
Values guide behavior. When you are clear on what your values are, you can choose to live in ways that reflect your values. You can choose to let your values guide your behavior. Conversely, it is helpful to observe what values we display through our behavior and to bring the two into congruence.
Values help us overcome challenges. When you know the things that make life meaningful, you are better equipped to navigate the inevitable challenges you encounter as you strive to create a life of meaning, purpose, and Service. When you live in harmony with your highest values, you are at peace and content, and you are likely working toward goals that are meaningful for you. And you are able to deal with any challenges that come your way.
It all begins when you identify your values and decide to live by them.
What Are Values?
“A value is something you naturally feel is important to you . . .You’ll realize its importance by the strength and depth of the feeling it awakens inside you.” [Leonard]
We can define values as core beliefs and principles that guide our behavior and decisions. Thomas Leonard, said that our values are like a theme for our lives. They are foundational to the type of life we create.
Values represent behaviors and activities that bring us joy, contentment, and feelings of well-being when we engage in them. They encompass feelings, beliefs, and behaviors that you are naturally drawn to; principles that you consider necessary to a well-lived life. [Leonard]
It’s important to realize that values themselves are intrinsically neither “good” nor “bad” but some can serve you individually better than others. Some will appeal to you more than others. These are the things you would “cross the I-beam for“.
We all have values, whether we can name them or not. But when you live an Excelerated Life™, you not only know your values (we call them Valid Values), you take explicit steps to live out your values.
What Are Your Values?
So this brings us to the big question: What are your values? Upon what foundation of value are you building your Excelerated Life™?
I hope you can name them here. Mine? Integrity, family well-being, health + vitality, Service, courage, and self-mastery. I know this because I went through an in-depth exercise to identify my Valid Values and plan how I can incorporate them into all facets of my life.
If you’d like some guidance in identifying your values, you could start with The Valid Values Exelerator. This Excelerator is a tool to help you identify your values. Once you’ve identified them, there are exercises to help you understand where you are living your values, and areas where you could do that a little more. To get started, download your free copy here.
Living From Your Values
“Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.” ~ Clayton M. Christensen
Once you know your Valid Values, you can begin shaping your life around them and putting them to use in your daily living. As you do that, keep this in mind: 100% is easier than 98%. [Christensen] It actually becomes easier to honor your values when you do so every day, every time the opportunity arises. As Stephen Guise writes in The Magic of Momentum, “you are most likely to do what you just did.”
When you commit to living your Valid Values 100% of the time, it actually becomes a little easier. You don’t have to stop and ask yourself, “What should I do in this situation?” You already know, based on what you value.
When Things Get Hard – Overcoming Obstacles
Unfortunately, when we decide to live our values, we will run into challenges – both internal and external. Here are a few you may have encountered.
Inconvenience. This internal obstacle can be especially difficult as we first begin to more closely live from our values. It can be hard sometimes to stick to the “straight and narrow” path of our highest values. It may seem easier to just go with the flow, or the crowd, and do the easy thing.
Self-doubt. We may believe that we don’t have the ability to stick with the decisions that are in alignment with our values. This is especially true if we’ve gotten off course in the past. (And who among us has not done so at one time or another?) Or we may doubt our effectiveness to make any difference in our world, regardless of what we choose to do.
Perfectionism. Having to have and do things “perfectly” keeps us from doing many things, from pursuing our BIG goals to living out our values. We decide if we can’t do it perfectly, why do it at all?
Fear of judgment. Often a major hurdle is our fear of what others may think or say if we stick to our values, especially if it causes us to stand out from the crowd.
Lack of support. If we don’t have the support of family, friends, and colleagues as we change to live our values, we can feel isolated and alone. Or we may feel pressured to adopt the values of the group – work, school, or family – even if they are not in alignment with our own Valid Values.
Living your values is not always easy but it is always worth it. “This above all: to thine own self be true,” Polonius says in Hamlet. The more you live from your true values, the greater meaning your life has for you, and the more successful you are. You are happier, healthier, and more fulfilled. And you are making a positive impact on the world around you.
As you strengthen your values, you feel you are being true to yourself and genuine with others.
Values Matter – The Ripple Effect
A great reason to begin living your values is this: When you are true to your values, you send a positive message out into your world. Like a young child tossing pebbles into a pond and watching the ripples go out across the water in ever-growing circles, you can observe the effects of your actions. You are showing others that it is possible to live a life true to oneself and that is making a difference.
If you value family, make your loved ones a priority in your life. They’ll see and experience that and they may be kinder to others.
If you value compassion, give some of your time to volunteer and help others in need. You may inspire some of your friends to volunteer as well and you’ll definitely be making a difference in the lives of those you help.
If you value learning, become a tutor or teach a class on a subject you know well. Your students may feel encouraged to pass along to others the knowledge you’ve shared with them.
When you are true to yourself and honor your values, you are making a difference in the world, even if it’s just in small ways. You are creating a ripple effect of positive change that can make our world a better place.
Let Your Values Matter
Are you letting your values matter? Are you consistently honoring your core beliefs and living in alignment with the things that matter most?
If you want a jump start on living from your Valid Values, you could start with The Excelerator Jump Start – Excelerated Values™ This Excelerator Jump Start provides quick actions you can take right now to jump-start your Excelerated Life™, to begin defining and living your Valid Values.
Values matter. Your values matter. Your Valid Values are your compass, showing you your true North and keeping you on the path. It isn’t always easy but knowing there are obstacles helps you to be prepared to surmount the bumps and potholes you’ll encounter.
The first step is knowing what you value, what your Valid Values are. Then determine that you will honor your values all the time, knowing that 100% is easier than 98%!
And remember that you are not living your values for yourself alone, although that is important. But there is a ripple effect that moves and expands your actions such that they can have a far-reaching impact, more than you may ever know. That’s a way you make our world a better place. And that is embracing your Excelerated Life™!
What is one way you live one of your values each day?
Where could you more closely live one of your values?
Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Excelerated Values™ – defining and living your Valid Values – is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Christensen, Clayton M. How Will You Measure Your Life? New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2012.
Guise, Stephen. The Magic of Momentum. Selective Entertainment, LLC. 2022.
Leonard, Thomas. The 28 Laws Of Attraction. New York: Scribner, 1998.
This blog post includes research information provided by ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI. To learn more about ChatGPT and its capabilities, you can visit the OpenAI website.
This blog post includes research information provided by Bard, an AI writing tool from Google AI.