Let Your Core Values Guide You

I was driving down the Rocky Mountains with my then six-year-old son, Teddy. I noticed the guide rails along the winding roads. We had just spent fifteen minutes at the Continental Divide–an impressive view. Before that, we’d been camping along the Colorado River. We were both exhausted. As I drove our rental car down the mountain, I looked in the back to see Teddy fast asleep. My attention turned back to the road and I chuckled to myself, wondering what in the world those guide rails could do if I were to weave off the road. I mean, it certainly wouldn’t save me from plummeting down the mountain, would it? Or would they serve as a harsh reminder to get my car back on the road?

Our core values act in a similar fashion– at work or home. If I don’t have a reminder to get back on the path, then how would I even know that I was off of it? As a kid, I always hated when my parents would say “because I said so.” I didn’t know it then, but the part of that statement I hated was it never addressed the why. Why should I eat my vegetables? “Because I said so.” Why couldn’t it be, “Because we want to eat a healthy diet and take care of our bodies so we can live long and healthy lives”? Which one resonates more with you? I think core values tie our behavior back to an already decided-upon path. Knowing why you are doing something has more weight than an unguided path or no reason why.

At both my home and work, we have stated core values. The key reason we have stated them is much like those guard rails in the Rocky Mountains, They’re visible. The core values are out there for everyone to see, not just for certain drivers or workers or family members, but everyone. We can look at our values, understand why they’re there and then use them. When we make decisions at home or work, we want to use our core values as the filter in our decision making. We want to coach and teach the why, and tie it back to our core value. That seems like a better and safer way to drive through the mountains–or through life.

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