There is perhaps no greater defining characteristic of a person than their values. Their values drive everything else: goals, priorities, success and everything in between. There is no other characteristic that can both lay the foundation for a spectacular life and also destroy one in a matter of seconds. A great asset for success in business, building relationships and leading a significant life is knowing what your values are and knowing the price you are willing to pay to stand by them. To me, there are four core aspects that come into play when reflecting on and practicing your values in every day life.
Not many people take the time to actually reflect and put down on paper exactly what their goals are and which values mean the most to them. This is a very personal exercise and means many different things to different people. It's about choosing the values that mean the most to you and not the values that others have tried to impose on you. Choosing the top five values that mean the most to you can be a very clarifying exercise and bring a lot of focus and clarity to your life.
Align Your Goals with Them
It is very hard to achieve goals that are not in-line with your values. You can try, but more often than not you will fall short. The reason: without aligning your goals with your values, you lack sufficient passion, determination and reasons why for achieving them. You may even see some progress in the short term, but in the long term you will be left feeling unfulfilled and that your achievements lack significance. You realize that the goals you climbed mountains to achieve weren't the goals that you truly believed in.
Never Let Any Relationship Make You Deviate From Them
Never let any relationship, professional or personal, influence you to deviate from your values. Anybody who does not at least respect your values and your adherence to them is not somebody you want to engage with. But more importantly, the mental burden you will feel (and the resentment toward that person) that will build up over time is far too great a price to pay to sustain any relationship.
Never Deviate From Them for a Business Deal or Any Amount of Money
The consequences of this are even greater than selling out your values for a relationship. Nothing can derail a spectacular career or company faster than selling out your values for a pay day. No matter how desirable the outcome looks or how much you think you can get away with, you will always end up on the losing end of this one. You will lead a more significant life, build better relationships and leave a more meaningful legacy if you can exercise the discipline to always choose values over chasing deals. In the end, you will also do many more deals this way.