Every situation in life is subject to change. Economy, health, career, relationships… Just like the temperature in my home town, they can change dramatically from one day to the next. What helps me, and what I hope will help you, is maintaining a constant sense of self.
A constant sense of self is driven by identifying and adhering to consistent values. These values are at the core of your being, regardless of circumstance. Core values define who you are and drive how you behave. They draw a clear line between what you can control and what you can’t. And they help you separate behaviors from results, the journey from the destination.
I’ve spent the last several years developing my core values. I review them daily and use them as a checklist to make decisions of all sizes. When I learn of a change beyond my control, I look to my values to guide my reaction. When everything is running smoothly, I let my values drive changes and improvements in my personal and professional life.
Being a lifelong geek, I built an acronym out of my values. It’s not a requirement, but it sure helps in communicating them to myself and others. For me, FAITH is the foundation, so it made natural sense to build my values around it.
Focus. Time and attention are liquid assets and you can choose whether to spend or invest them. There will always be distractions and competing priorities, but valuing focus helps you invest in the activities that bring the most value to your life.
Accountability. Accountability always makes people think of consequences. That’s not how I see it. Accountability is a two-way street. In my decision-making process, it ensures that I’m thinking of impact to others. In relationships, it ensures that I am open about my expectations. I believe we’re all in this together, and I behave accordingly.
Investment. Think like an owner. As a value, investment helps me in two ways. In making decisions, I evaluate as if I’m taking ownership — is the return worth committing my time, attention, money? Once committed, investment helps keep me on track, willing to make sacrifices. Investment means that it’s never “just a job”.
Thankfulness. Realizing that life is a gift elicits a response of gratitude. Sometimes it’s easy to be thankful, other times it’s not. In times when appreciation is difficult to come by, truly valuing Thankfulness forces me to take pause and look for the good in any situation. The big picture always shows me the blessings I’ve received and I can’t help but respond with thanks.
Helpfulness. The great Zig Ziglar used to say “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Truer words have never been spoken. Putting others’ needs first is the mark of a leader and an example I try to set every day. For my children, my team, my friends and my community.
Focus… Accountability… Investment… Thankfulness… Helpfulness… F-A-I-T-H
There you have it. My core values are the ideal me. They are not one-size-fits all, but I hope they inspire you to examine your own and build healthy habits to reinforce them daily. Paying attention to what is truly important to you will keep you honest with yourself and provide you with clarity in uncertain times. If there’s one thing in this world that’s worth understanding, it’s you.