“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.” – Ayn Rand
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” -Roy Disney
Knowing what your core values are is extremely beneficial, even crucial, to your happiness. The importance and power of explicitly defining values became even clearer to me on a trip to Vegas earlier this week…and no it’s not because I went there and comprised mine (although that would make for a juicy update!). Las Vegas is not really known as the Mecca of enlightenment, but there is a place off the strip where a lot of people are delivering happiness. The place is called Zappos.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with employees at the Zappos office and take the popular headquarters tour with my incredibly informative and entertaining guide, Rocco. By the end of the day I understood why it is rated as one of the best places to work. Everyone there loves working there and really likes each other as well. But they don’t love it because they love selling shoes (and now accessories, clothing, electronics and more). They love it because of what it’s like to work there. Zappos has done an incredible job of creating a culture that brings out the best in all their employees. In a nutshell, they’ve done this by making their ten core values the number one thing that everyone works for and toward. I saw first hand how these values are shared, spoken about and experienced by everyone. And working with these core values as a compass delivers a lot of happiness (and success) on both a personal and professional level. If this is possible on a company wide level, I know it’s possible for you to live a life of value-infused goodness!
My invitation to you today is to take a lesson from the success Zappos has modeled by clarifying your own core values. The importance of knowing our values is taught all over the personal and business development field. However, few of us actually create a specific, clarified and thoughtful list of our core values that govern our thoughts, words, choices, goals, and behaviors. You fit into this category if you are not quickly able to rattle of your most important values without having to give it much thought.
My guess is that getting clear on your core values will be a very valuable experience for you. So take some time right now (what’s the value in waiting?) to clarify your values. When you begin your list, just write down everything that comes to mind – don’t worry about clarifying it to somewhere between five and ten core values immediately. When you feel complete, you’ll start to notice that certain values fit into a larger “big picture” value. For example, some of the qualities on my value list were: compassion, understanding, affection, and kindness. I realized that all of these things are components of my number one core value: LOVE. Values like family, friends, conversation, and laughter fit into another one of my core values: CONNECTION.
When creating your values, remember they are for YOU. Trust your gut and pick words (or phrases) that feel enlivening, comprehensive and meaningful to you rather than things you think “should” be on there. If each value evokes specific pictures, feeling and visions that truly resonate with what is most important to you, then you are spot on! After you have identified your core values display them somewhere, or multiple places, where you can see them. The most flourishing companies display their core values and create teams, visions and goals around them. Why don’t we as individuals do the same so that we can fully flourish in our own lives?
If you are wishy washy with your values or make choices that are out of integrity with them, life can be more difficult. Why? Because if you are not living in sync with what is TRULY most important to you, you are not getting the ultimate value out of your life. On the other hand, the clearer you are with your values, the easier life gets! When you know unequivocally what you value most, it gets easier to know what choices to make and actions to take based upon whether or not they are in alignment your values. And as you make choices and take actions based on your core values, the more your life becomes a reflection of the things that are most important to you. Deliver happiness to yourself by living a life that is governed by your values.
“Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.” -Dalai Lama
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