Finding Your Core Values

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What are your core values? Have you ever thought those through? Now, we talked about core values in What do You Stand For post, and I encompassed it around how to know what you believe but I never just went and made the topic of your core values the main topic of a discussion. That is what I want to do this week, to talk about your core values.

What are core values?

Core Values are your fundamental building blocks for what you believe and how you conduct your life. To have integrity in your life it helps to know what your core values are. You have some core values that you know of. Yet there may be some that you are wanting to strive for, as you grow and discover more about who you are and what you stand for your core values may change.

These values come into value when you are faced with a decision. Should you hand that extra dollar back if the cashier gave you the wrong change? What if you find out that your financial manager has been cooking the books and now you have to face your investors and tell them the news. How do you handle that? This is where your core values come into play. 

Those hard to make decisions become much more visible when you have a set of core values. You also are able to avoid those harder predicaments if you make the needed core value decisions earlier on.

Examples of core values

All throughout history, the great men who have left their mark on those venerable pages have been people who had a set of core values. There is a code that these great men live by they implant those beliefs in their hearts and some of them even carry a list of their values with them and review them often.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was famous for his 13 virtues that he lived his life by. According to his autobiography, Ben Franklin created his 13 virtues when he was 20 years old. He would review his accomplishments, he would also be able to see where he was falling short. Franklin’s 13 virtues are as follows.

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

George Washington

George Washington was another great man who took the time to write out a set of rules for himself. Now he went a bit overboard in my opinion but he had a book made of 110 rules that he lived by. He called it the Rules for Civility and Decent Behavior. Now I won’t go through all of them but there are a few that I would love to note.

  1. Sleep not when others speak, sit not when others stand, Speak not when you should hold your peace, walk not on when others stop.
    *You can see the curtesy is high in Washingtons Values. He expected people to be civil.
  2. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
    *In other words don’t gloat. It was very unbecoming.
  3. Undertake not to teach your equal in the art himself professes; it savors of arrogance
    *Sometimes you may want to call a person out for his BS but don’t. Everybody knows which end he is talking out of.
  4. Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘is better to be alone than in bad company.
    *You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most intentional time with.
  5. Go not thither, where you know not, whether you shall be welcome or not. Give not advice without being asked & when desired do it briefly
    *Advice is better received when it is asked. Don’t should on others
  6. While you are talking, point not with your finger at him of whom you neither discourse nor approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.
    *This needs to be enacted today
  7. Speak not evil of the absent for it is unjust.
    *Don’t talk behind people’s back

Abraham Lincoln

Another man who was complex but still had a set of core values that he lived by was Abraham Lincoln. Now he didn’t have a list of values but he talked about what he valued often.

Leave Nothing for tomorrow that can be done today.

Adhere to your purpose, and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution and will regret it all your life. – This one is great because it exemplifies what is benign talked about here. When you have a set of values you don’t want to violate your core values or you will start beating yourself up.

I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot. – Again this fits so well in today’s environment.

How to find your core values?

Now how do you find out what your core values are? This is easier to do than you would like to think. Yet then again it can be a big challenge. What needs to be done to layout your core values?

Core Value Step 1 – Find some values

First off thinking of what you want to stand for can be fairly easy you may come up with authentic or honest. Yet you may want to look at expanding your list to around 10. So a few points you want to do that can help with finding your values are to first look through a list of different values to really get a hold of the ones that you believe best fit you. I found a huge list of 400 core value words that you may want to review and look over. This is a great place to start the author of the list also gives you a bit of a definition for that value which can help at times.

crop modern male studying in library
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You will notice that there are some words in here that really feel as if they ring true. Pay particular attention to these words and write them down. Keep it up till you have found about 20 words that seem to really fit.

Once you have around 20 words you have found and think they fit pretty well then it is time to start looking inward

Core Value Step 2 – Look inwards

Now it is time for you to start seeing how well these words fit you. Much like a good dinner jacket you want these values to fit you well. You don’t want an awkward bunching in the shoulders. 

Think of who you are a good way to see what really fits you is to think of what you would like people to say about you at your funeral. Yeah, it is a bit morbid but it is a great exercise to find out what your values are. If you have some values that you want to drop then do so. You can make the needed course change so that people look at you in a more favorable light. 

The key is, to be honest with yourself. Who are you? What do you want to be known for? You may have never really put much thought into who you are and that is fine. You can start working on what you stand for and what you believe now. 

photo of man sitting on a cave
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Remember the best time to plant an oak was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. What have you prided yourself on? Are you always standing up for people? Are you always helping people? Are you giving? These are clues to your values. Once you have started applying this step you will see that there are words from the first step that really start to shine.

Also, look at what you want to accomplish in your life? What words best fit with your goals and objectives? When you start adding these layers on you start to see other value words drifting away and you see that they do not fit quite as nicely.

When you are down to about 10 words that is a good time to start applying those values to your life.

Core Value Step 3 – Ask Around

Consult your friends and your family about those words. Ask them which words best describe you. They may have a word that fits you better than one of the words you have chosen. Then again you may be able to find a weakness in your foundation that you need to shore up. That little bit of honesty you need to change

The problem of not getting the right core values

Now, what if you found a core value now itis time to start living by them. You may find yourself living out of integrity with who you want to be. If that is the case then you need to correct that deficiency and get back on the right track. 

People will see right through you when you are out of alignment with your core values. This is often referred to as being out of integrity, and people who know you best will see if you are just playing a game. People who don’t know you will recognize when you are out of alignment too it will just take a little longer and that much harder to win them back when you are back in alignment.

portrait old person sad
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So if you make drastic changes to your core values, for instance, you are to become more honest. You will have to work to prove that you are an honest person. If you have turned you back on lie’s those closest to you may call you out. Those who are in your outer circle may actually have to see for themselves. 

So yes the path you walk when you have your core values is a bit narrow but the hills and valleys are nowhere near as steep. If you fall off your path you will have a long way to climb back up. So don’t fear your core values just because you having them makes you stronger. They are a portion of what makes men great. Make them right and make them true.

If you want help with building your core values you can always join a group of men who will help you start on your journey of becoming the best man for your kids. If interested check out The Brotherhood of Men

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About Bryan Goodwin

I like being able to help people find their "why" and achieve the personal freedom they desire. Besides writing for Relaxed Male I also am a life coach. By helping men find the leader that is found in each and every one of us. I do this by encouraging men to get outdoors and find the balance they are missing. Realize that they need to be in contact with the outside as often as they can. It is not only good for them but for their families and relationships.

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