An Art of the Question Blog
What do I value?
Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does – the truth – don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency. – Aesop
It is roughly four square inches in size. It’s a piece of cardboard with a couple of different color inks on it. The image is of a person that many of us have never heard of.
It sold for $2.35 million dollars.
What the heck is it? It’s a baseball card. Yes, you read correctly – a baseball card. A remarkable baseball card, termed by some collectors as the holy grail. It was issued in 1909, and features Pittsburg Pirate Homer Wagner, dubbed “The Flying Dutchman.”
One of the reasons for the card’s value is that only 50 or 60 are believed to still exist. Think about that for a minute. I wonder how many kids bought a pack of gum, and tore into the packaging, damaging the card in their eagerness to get to the gum. Or how about this – how many cards were tossed into the trash, because the kid just wanted the gum? They literally threw away millions of dollars, and didn’t even know it!
Thinking about this, I began to wonder. I wonder how many times I missed the best option available because I didn’t think through the consequences of my decision? How many times have I inadvertently wasted an opportunity because I was in a hurry? Have I settled for less than the best because I didn’t listen to good advice or spend a little time in research? And most important of all – how many times have I wished I could have a do-over because I didn’t make a decision that was in line with my values?
Now, don’t get me wrong, we all make mistakes. We all have things in our past we wish we could change. Focusing too much or too long on things that we can’t change is a sure way to become discouraged, so let’s not go there.
But if we are wise, we owe it to ourselves to learn from the past so that we can always be improving. We can learn from our own past, as well as the lives of others. And that is the purpose for this question – what do I value?
It isn’t necessarily just a financial question. Our values extend into every area of our life. Relationships, moral views, work ethic, faith, family – the list is long and varied. Our values are just that – things that have value to us. A value is a belief, a philosophy, a viewpoint – something that has meaning to us. A value influences our decisions, and guides how we spend our time and resources. Values provide a foundation upon which we build our business, our relationships, and our life. Do your decisions reflect your values?
Mother Teresa valued the poor and sick, those that society had mostly forgotten. Despite personal pain, discomfort and serious health issues, she spent nearly half a century investing in them, because they had value to her.
Galileo publicly defended his scientific views on heliocentrism. He was mocked by his peers, accused of heresy by the church, and denied the opportunity to publish his work. Ultimately, he was jailed for his views. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest for his beliefs, because they had value to him.
On a business level, Marriott values service to its customers and communities, and encourages its team members to operate in a “spirit to serve”.
Nordstrom has based its reputation – and indeed has become famous – for their top quality associates and their customer service reputation. This excerpt from their handbook gives insight into how highly they value the team member and the customer. It reads, “Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.”
Starbucks core values include community service, ecological responsibility, and aid to underdeveloped nations.
Wal-Mart has a core value of everyday low prices.
Whether a corporation, a small business, or an individual, values are fundamental to our identity and our success. Values serve as a constant foundation.
Here are five key areas in which values benefit us and our organization:
- Values help us focus on what is important.
- Values help us communicate what is important to our family, friends, and business associates.
- Values drive and inspire us to achievement.
- Values demonstrate and help shape our character.
- Values demonstrate our uniqueness. (For more on your uniqueness, see my blog “Fingerprints and DNA” in the July 2011 Archives.
Your values can change the world, one decision at a time, one action at a time.
What are my values?
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