My oldest son recently received a very high honor: His school’s Core Values award. To be recognized as standing out from the crowd, not giving in to peer pressure and living in sync with an established set of core values makes me extremely proud as a father. I want my boys to have core values. Ultimately, I don’t care what their political and religious beliefs are, I don’t care what they choose as a career, as long as all of these are in alignment with their own core values.
“It’s better to know who you are than to know where you are going.” – Jim Collins, author
What are core values and why are they important?
Athletes know that strengthening core muscles is vital to all athletic performance. Your abdominal muscles control your balance and posture. In life, it’s just as important to strengthen your core values. They define who you are and give you balance and posture as you pursue your dreams.
What are the things you stand for and believe in? Integrity, honesty, respect, accountability, love? If you don’t know your core values, I highly encourage you to do some soul searching. I want you to decide what your values are. I want you to be so convinced of them that you own them, that you are able to stand strong in them. It is when you truly own your belief system that you become who you were uniquely created to be.
When you are living in accordance to your core values you feel light. Your soul sings! It gives you energy and happiness that does not come from anything outside you. When you’re living contrary to those core values you lose energy. You feel a heaviness and a darkness within. Your soul feels regret in the choices that are made outside of your beliefs. When you are living without regret, you are living in accordance to your values.
My purpose statement is “to love, serve, and add value to the lives of others.” Everything I do, everything I write, every podcast I produce are done with my purpose statement in mind. I know that, when I am living according to my purpose and values, I can be happy and confident regardless of my circumstances or the people I am around. I have learned to simply leave situations in which people are behaving in a way that is contrary to my values. It is not a negative judgement against them. It is a protective action for me, and ultimately a gift to them and the world. When I am in sync with my values I improve and everything around me improves. The same is true for you!
You know when you meet someone who is confident in who they are, what they are, and why they exist on this planet! They operate with integrity to themselves. You can tell they are living in accordance with their core values. Positive energy radiates from them. They are not seeking approval from others. They have found happiness within.
When you live according to your core values, you stand out from the crowd. You are different and people notice. Sometimes this is uncomfortable. Be strong and believe in yourself. Know what you believe so you can stand on your own despite peer pressure. You will ultimately be happier when you are true to yourself in every situation.
Let me be candid. I am not perfect. My friends and family know me. They know my shortcomings, my mistakes, and my failures. I spent so much of my life living a lie and telling lies that it took me a long time to get back to the truth. We are human. None of us are perfect. We see evidence of core values within ourselves when we recognize we have strayed and take steps to get back into alignment. If you are doing something right now that is not in keeping with your core values, it’s time to realign. I love a line from the song Collide by Howie Day, “even the best fall down sometimes”. And it’s true.
“Man’s greatest glory lies not in never falling, but in rising every time he falls.” – Vince Lombardy
If you are living outside your core values – take a breath and get back up. Start living in accordance with your core values. You can do this! Every single day is a day to start over. Every day is a day you can attempt to make yourself a better person than you were yesterday. You are responsible for your actions and behaviors – own them! Change them! Make right what can be made right, and let the rest go. You can’t change how other people feel. All you can do is change you.
The overwhelming majority of my life coaching clients are struggling because they have spent most of their lives trying to be what other people expected them to be. My job is to help them tap into who they truly are and start living in sync with that – to be the fullest expressions of who they were created to be.
Know your values, know what your non-negotiables are, and know what your deal breakers are. Be willing to walk away in social or professional situations. That can be awkward, but it’s better than compromising your values. Learn to find peace and contentment within yourself.
Know your core values, know yourself, and love yourself.