What Are Your Values?

valuesYour values shape you and your career decisions more than you may realize. Before making any changes in your professional life, you may want to sit and think about what you value. You may be surprised what answers you come up with.

Your values are qualities that are important in the way you live and work. These are different for everybody, so you should be sure to answer this question for yourself and not take another’s answer. Values help us to determine our priorities, and when our actions stray from our values, we can feel the negative ramifications in all aspects of life.

To start with, we all have core values that resonate in our lives. These core values are the building blocks that all of our other values build upon. These values will be stable throughout your life, and typically won’t change based on that situation. To determine some of your core values, answer the following:

  • What career should I pursue?
  • Should I accept this new job/promotion?
  • Should I compromise in this?
  • Should I follow tradition in my family/circle?
  • What do I want from my personal life?

After figuring out your core values, you can move on to the values specific to helping you move forward in life. When thinking about new opportunities in your life, it is important to understand your values – particularly the ones that may play into the changes. To determine these values, follow the following steps.

  1. Identify times when you were happiest. Find examples from both your personal and professional lives, and figure out what factors and people played into this happiness.
  2. Identify the times you felt a sense of pride. Ask yourself, “why was I proud?” and figure out what factors played into that.
  3. Identify the times when you were most fulfilled and satisfied. What need or desire was fulfilled to leave you feeling satisfied? Why was the experience memorable, and how can you recreate it?
  4. Determine your top values, based on your past experiences of happiness, pride and fulfillment.

Each person’s experiences will help them build a unique set of values, and staying true to your values can help you get the most out of your professional life to be the happiest in your personal life.

What are some of your most important values? What questions above helped you find these values? Let me know in the comments section below!

 

Who’s in Your Room?

“Who’s in Your Room?”  This was the question asked by a close friend of mine, Stewart Emery (pictured in this blog) at a presentation of his that I attended a few months ago.

He posed an interesting series of questions and ideas to the audience; “What if you had to live your life in one room?  Whoever you want to interact with in life is in that room.  There is only one door.  It is a one-way door.  Whoever is in your room, stays in your room forever.  Whoever comes into your room impacts your life directly in many ways.  If you knew that this person would be in your room forever, would you have let that person in your room?”

He went on to ask, “If you let people in – what would your room look like?  Would it be:

  • An angry room?
  • Chaotic room
  • Happy room?
  • Conflicted room?
  • Would there be a lot of drama?
  • Are there too many people in the room?
  • Too many interruptions?”

His point was that the quality of your life is a direct reflection of who is in your room.  How you manage who you let into your room (and life) is very important.  How do we go about choosing who we let in?  He suggested a sort of mental “doorman” who is trained on your values and your passions.  It is this doorman who stops people from getting into your life who conflict with your values and passions.  Nobody gets in who doesn’t meet your personal values.

He asked us to do an exercise to think about the people who are in our room now.  Are there people close to us that don’t live our values?  Would we have let them in if we had thought about this concept before letting them close to us?

We design the room we live in, along with the people who are in it.  We can do that consciously, or we can do that by happenchance.  The choice is ours.  Understanding this idea now, who are we going to let in our room from this point on?

This concept fits powerfully with building a powerful personal network.  The people we bring in close to us should be people we want to work with.  They should be people who share our values and our passions.  Understanding this simple concept can help us to understand the difference between an opportunity or a distraction.  It can help us choose between a person who we think has a skill set we need versus a value set we wish to emulate.

What do you think about the concept of “Who’s in Your Room?”  Knowing this concept now – what would you do different in the future?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Who Made a Difference in Your Life?

Last week, I posted a video of me accepting an award at Citrus College (click here to view that video and the accompanying blog post), a community college in Southern California,  and in the video I mention that one of the best professors I ever had throughout my ten-year college education was one of my professors at Citrus College.

In the video above, I talk about this particular professor, Dr. Shirey, and I explain why and how he impacted my life in a positive way.

I think it’s really important to recognize the people who have made a difference in our lives and acknowledge and understand what it is that they did (or do) that has positively impacted us because it can sometimes help us gain clarity about ourselves as individuals when it comes to the focus of our values and ambitions.

Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Everyone who got where he is has had to begin where he was.”  I firmly believe that the teachers, educators, mentors, and other stand-out people who make a difference in our lives play a huge part in helping us to get from where we began to where we want to go and if there is someone who impacted you in a way that helped you get where you are today, share your story/stories in the comments section and give a shout out to those who’ve helped you!

Do You Know Your Mission?

You may think you know why you’re in business, but perhaps it’s been years since you gave it serious thought. There’s no better time than now to re-examine why you’re doing what you’re doing.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my business mission? — Beyond simply making a living, what are my long-range professional goals? Do I wish to become the standard by which my competitors are judged? Is it my dream to help make the world a better place?
  • Where is my organization going? — Am I achieving my mission? Am I making plans to accomplish it? How can I change policies, procedures or personnel to improve my chances of achieving my mission?
  • What environment is my organization operating in? — What are the social, economic and technological trends that affect the way I do business and my progress toward my goals?
  • What are my core competencies? — What do I like to do? What is it that I do better than my competitors? Is my business mission compatible with my values and aptitudes?

I’ve seen too many business professionals and companies make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Starting out with the fundamentally sound goal of finding a niche that will make them successful, they go astray by changing direction every time a customer or associate suggests a new product or service. The mission gets lost in a frantic scramble for business before the original idea ever gets a chance to pay off.

So, even if you think you know your mission, it will serve you well to pause periodically, analyze your business and, if necessary, refocus on your mission and philosophy.

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