Core Values! What are they? Where did they come from? Why do we need them? When are they important? What counts the most? How do we know which ones to stick to like glue, and which ones are negotiable?
John C. Maxwell describes core values as the deeply held beliefs that authentically describe your soul. I agree with that. However, I also believe that if you are abandoning your core values, you will never be truly authentic, and moreover, you will never be happy unless you are truly and fearlessly authentic.
Not all that long ago in this very series, I said not everything has to be a fight. I firmly believe that, and sometimes it seems we are fighting against ourselves. Sometimes we are battling against what we know to be right and what others tell us is right. Other moments, we are confused by the way we were raised and the expectations of society. Maybe it's not even society as a whole, but just the peer group we hang with putting pressure on us, and we feel like it's a small compromise to make to fit in or act cool.
It's not small, nor will it ever be small. Compromising or abandoning your values is the same as not having those values at all. No matter what the reason, there are times we find ourselves in a quandary about sticking to our core values.
We find ourselves making trade-offs and deals with ourselves. We say things like "I'll just tell a little white lie may translate to I'll just let this value slide this one time." However, it may also be translated into "He or She is a liar." or "I will just laugh at the expense of someone else because everyone else is doing it may translate into, "You are a jerk with no respect for others", or it may translate or transform you into a person without compassion.
Right now, you may be thinking, "What are my core values?" After all, they are not something we think about every day. But, should we?
Let's look at a list of core values:
This is a long list but it is not exhaustive or all-inclusive. It will give you an idea of what is considered a core value, and hopefully some of them jump out at you, speak to you, call you home to them. Hopefully some of them resonate with your heart, and you know you need to make them part of you.
Chances are you were raised with some core values, even if your family didn't call them by that name. Most likely, you read the list and something rings true with you deep in your core that says, "This one is critical. We can't waver from this one." That could be because mom or dad or grandpa talked to you about that value. It could be because you heard about that code of conduct at church or at work.
I am willing to wager some pretty good money on the fact that the ones that touch you deep in your soul, or move you the most, were not spoken as much as represented in the way someone close to you chose to live their life. They were the epitome of everything that word or value means.
My dad was an honest man. He did not alter his devotion to his integrity, even when it was hard. As a child, I heard people make statements like, "God would lie before Bob Haldeman would." They weren't being sacrilegious. It was just an expression of how much they believed anything that came out of his mouth. He would also joke and tease a lot. He never compromised his honor for the sake of humor though. Really, he never compromised his integrity for anything. Thus, one of my own core values is honesty and integrity.
My mom was an extremely generous woman. Sometimes she was generous to a fault. She would give away her last nickel if she thought it would make life easier for one of her children, or even for a friend. Both of my parents would move heaven and earth for the people they loved. God rest them. Therefore, some of my core values are family, honesty, integrity and generosity.
Of course you can have values you weren't raise with as well. I believe we have some which are ingrained in us, when we are born, and we can choose the values we feel it is imperative to make our own.
One of my deep-seated values I am committed to, and try not to waver from is being the change I wish to see in the world. I want people to walk away from me feeling better than they did before we talked. I want the place I work to be better because I worked there. I want my friends and family, especially my children and grandchildren, to feel like they are better because I was part of their life. I want the world to be a little better place because I was here. That value, being the change I wish to see in the world, is one I feel rooted in my soul and one that I firmly believe gives my soul roots.
I think it is crucial that I say you don't have don't have to live the way you were raised, if you don't agree with how you were raised, you get to choose your own core values. You get to choose which ones you live by.
Ultimately what you need to understand completely and fully, is whatever values you choose to adhere to, and whatever values you abandon, no matter what the reason, you are also choosing your consequences. And sometimes those consequences are very long-lasting.
The important thing is that you determine your own personal core values, but the most important thing is not choosing the values. It is choosing to live by them over and over again each and every day of your life.
Roy Disney said, "It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. I wholeheartedly believe that if you don't identify, hold close and cling to your values, you value is lessened for others, and for yourself.
I will leave you with this quote by Elvis Presley, "Values are like fingerprints. Nobody's are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do."
If you are going to leave a piece of you all over everything you do, you should choose those pieces wisely.
So the challenge I leave you with in this part of our Break It Better Series is this; Think about the core values you know, look some up, ask a dad or mom or grandparent what their core values are. Then, think long and hard, pray, meditate, go for a cruise with the radio up loud, or go for a run. Do whatever works for you to get inside your heart. Determine which values you will be known for when you leave this earth and then stick to them like stink on...like peanut butter sticks to the roof of your dog's mouth.
Every single morning I say these words, it's part of my vision board I meditate on while I work out,, "Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered." That is a quote by my favorite master of words, Dr. Seuss. Find out what values are truly important and stick to them. Figure out the ones you should not have and kick them to the curb.