If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for Anything

As a leadership coach, I come in contact with managers and everyday leaders who have no idea what they want in life or who they are without their titles. They might be able to tell me their roles in life, like mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, but they don’t have the foggiest notion of why they “do what they do” and “act the way they act,” especially under pressure.

Many times they don’t know their values. They’ve never given thought to their personal “non-negotiable.”  Many don’t have a moral compass, a set of values that they will NOT go beyond.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” While that’s a little harsh, it does make the point that you must examine your life. For what?  To pinpoint your “moral compass” – your true values. Leaders know their values, why those values are important, how those values play out in life and most important what they will sacrifice for those values.

You can’t have one set of values in your work life and a different set in your personal life. Your values go with you everywhere.  A mess up in one area of life can easily affect another. For example, it was a seemingly personal value that distracted and somewhat derailed Bill Clinton’s career, not a business value, which shows that values are not compartmentalized. So if you don’t examine your life and know what you stand for, you can easily get sidetracked.

Getting to know yourself starts with honesty – with others and especially with yourself. While most people have “cash register” honesty, meaning they’d never steal money from their employer, they aren’t always honest in other ways.

Perhaps they tell the world they value one thing and display something else. Their insides don’t match their outsides. For example, some people will tout the value of hard work and claim they work harder than anyone else. Yet when you look at their work behaviors, you find that they’re spending much of the day on long conversations about how busy and overwhelmed they are. Some spend a lot of time on social media – things that don’t advance the company. That’s not personal honesty or personal awareness.

I’d invite you to take a half-day – go to a quite place and think about what values you will sacrifice for. If you’d like a template, below is a link to a list of values. Pick 10 and then pare it down to 5. You’ll be amazed.

I Googled “List of Values” and they can be found at listofvalues.com. You’ll see by the length of the list why I suggested a half-day of alone time for you to pare your values down to the top 5!

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