Everyone talks about values, but few live them. Because it’s damned hard. Principles go by the wayside the minute we get scared, or desperate, or self-interested.
Yet values are exactly what define us and how we fit into society. Here are mine.
The greater good must come first
What distinguishes us from most animals is the ability to work together for mutual benefit—a much larger benefit than when we put ourselves first. We all need to make a buck and pay our mortgages, but does someone else really have to give up something so that we can get? No.
Our world is facing some serious challenges right now. Sticking with the blind, self-interested pursuit of money, where I put me first and you second, does nothing to solve our collective problems. Fear is what drives selfishness. When we all put ourselves first, we’ll all be last.
There’s no fate but what we make
No one is a prisoner to fate. No one’s life has been predetermined. You make choices moment by moment that define you. Wait for someone else to come fix my problems? Let some other flawed person dictate my destiny or “interpret” the world for me? No thanks.
Personal is professional
Who you are as a person defines who you are as a professional. This seems obvious enough, but many people (my generation in particular) try to separate the two. I personally prefer working with people I’d prefer to hang out with. In fact, while I don’t need to be friends with all my clients, I’d rather further the business of my friends. If you’re the kind of person that only seeks out “vendors,” then you won’t get my best work, whatever you’re paying me. Life is short, do we really want to just have transactional relationships?
Own your shit
I try hard to own my mistakes, something that requires occasional ego-swallowing. The ability to take responsibility for our actions is what makes us adults. Sadly I keep running into “grown-ups” that can’t seem to grasp that. And the ability to own one’s mistakes only comes from having good data. Because…
There are no good decisions made from bad data
if I’m not honest with myself, how can I be honest with anyone else? If I can’t be open to making mistakes, how can I expect others to? And if I kiss up to you with dishonesty, how does that truly help you? In my work, my clients always receive a truthful answer, even if it’s not one they want to hear.
Finally, life is short
Painfully so. It flashes past in an instant. We often obsess over unimportant details and stumbles instead of cherishing the good.
Those are my values. What are yours?