Values determine whether you succeed or fail, what will yours be?

Both individually and as an organization, values drive the decisions we make every day and shape how we deal with whatever comes our way. You will achieve the greatest successes when you partner with a person or organization that has the same values as you.

The choice we have is whether we actively create our values, recognizing them for what they are, or passively allow them to motivate us. The difference is that knowing your values and actively following them makes you both consistent and credible, two major components of gaining trust in others.

Here are some steps you can take to find and follow your values:

1. Your morality – This is what most people think of when they hear “values” but it is only a component. Things like honesty, integrity, and fairness are just assumed nowadays, and you won’t get very far without them. You need to have a strong moral base, but then again so does everyone else if they expect to do business for any length of time.

Basic morals do not differentiate or set you apart, they are the price of admission. Make sure you know them and live by them or you will have a bumpy ride through life.

2. Find your strengths – Your strengths are where your natural talents, skill sets, and knowledge bases converge.

Talents are what you are naturally adept at, ways of doing things that you just get and know how to do such as: creating and understanding ideas, communicating one on one or in groups, competition, or analytic breakdowns.

Skill sets are applications of knowledge that you have learned to do better than 90% of the people you know. Some examples would be repairing electronics, creating web pages, or tutoring children.

Knowledge bases are areas of information that you know better than 90% of the world. Maybe you know all about aviation, or plumbing, or local history, or even marketing. These areas are your expertise.

A fantastic resource for this is Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. (Full Disclosure: This is a sponsored link)

3. Giftings – Christianity has a list of special callings that people receive, and I believe that people are born with them whether they choose to be a Christian or believe in God at all. Regardless of whether you believe or not, finding your natural gift will help you to understand yourself and your organization.

Are you a teacher (someone who wants others to understand), a “preacher” (someone who must talk to others and tell them what they know), a counselor (someone who wants to emotionally help others), a giver (someone who loves to give and see people succeed through that), an encourager (someone who sees the best in others), a leader (someone who sees the right road to take and pulls people in that direction), an administrator (someone who loves the details and supporting other people)?

4. Desires and Beliefs – What do you know absolutely to be true? (Beliefs) What do you want or wish to be true? (Desires) Finding these answers takes some serious introspection but your desires and beliefs will determine your actions just as readily as any of the other areas.

Now comes the hard part you’ve been waiting for…

Create a list of answers for each of the items above: morals, strengths, gifts, and beliefs/desires. Separate them into the four categories and use as many words as you have to in each answer, just be sure you understand what you mean.

Next, determine which ones truly drive your life and decision making. Eliminate those that do not.

Now, can you combine any of the answers? Are some saying the same thing? Consolidate all the answers that you can, looking for ideas that are similar or close to one another.

Go back through the list if it still has more than 6 answers left, which ones are the MOST important? Get the list down to the 6 key drivers for your decisions.

This next part is harder than it sounds, so be patient. Take your 6 or fewer answers and find one word for each that encapsulates the entire answer. (e.g. “I really enjoy helping others succeed” would be giving or counseling or leading or serving depending on the context. Only you know the true answer.)

This last step is VERY important. Take one answer and explain it to yourself by telling at least 2 stories about a time when it truly guided your decision making process. Be as detailed and thorough as possible. If you have trouble thinking of 2 or more examples then the answer is probably not the right one.

Once you find your values and can articulate them, you are ready to start actively living them. Your business will work best with another business that has and lives the same values as you, which is why it is extremely important to understand what you value first.

There is so much more to this topic, but we have a start here. I’ll leave you with this:

Values are how you do things, your “passion” is what you choose to apply your values to, and your purpose is where all your values and your strongest passions exist in harmony.