How does one define themselves? You may be asking this very question right now. Perhaps you have asked this question a few times while standing on a ridge overlooking a beautiful and serene valley full of pines trees as you Hike in the mountains.
Maybe you are finding yourself, as I did, in a place you don’t like. You are needing to change who you are. It could be that you are not liking where your life is heading. Maybe you just are curious because you never have asked yourself the question, “What do I stand for?”
Asking that question helps point you to what your guiding principles are. These principles are also known as your core values.
What are Guiding Principles?
What is a guiding principle? The best way to describe Core values is a set of actions and beliefs that best describe who you are and what you take pride in. That is my own definition.
YourDictionary.com set the definition as:
Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization.
We all have those certain truths that we pride ourself in. Like honesty, Loyalty, or maybe it is to come home tired each work day. These core values are what help define us.
These principles in our lives help guide us in tough decisions and moral quandaries that crop up in our lives from time to time. Often this sets you apart from other people. If you have a core value of working to your fullest potential. Then you will be known as that guy who busts tail anytime work is at hand.
Maybe you are one that takes pride in their honesty. You do NOT lie. People will come to you for your side of the story and they can trust that you are telling the truth.
Your core beliefs or Guiding principles are certain truths and action you hold yourself to. If you stray from your core beliefs you realize it almost instantly.
How to Find your Core Values
There are several different ways you can find out what your core values are
Ask a friend
If you don’t have the slightest clue as to what could possibly be your core values. Then lean over to a good friend and ask them, “What do you think is my identifying traits”. A good friend will give you a little joke here and there but with a bit of needling he will answer you with some great insight and leads to what you hold in high value.
Now before the scoffers come in and say who does not know what values they hold? Let me say that at first when I was looking into the concept of core values and guiding principles, I didn’t know. I had never sat down to think of what I stood for. I had no clue as to where to start. Many people don’t know and so they often over think it. They are afraid of who they really are and they avoid the core values for some airy esoteric words that mean nothing o them. These words are a lot like affirmations you have to believe and see the truth in the words. IF you don’t value the guiding principles then the core values are worthless.
Write a list
Maybe you have an idea of your core values but say you are not sure about the right word to best describe that value. You can search online and find core value lists that will help you craft the written word that describes your values. Often you will find a list of words like.
A good way to start is just doing a brain dump. This is just write down all the words and phrases that jump into your head. Once you have those thoughts out you can see what value words are listed on the page. From there you can continue writing down words you have thought of. Then you can choose 5 or six words that you agree the most with.
Change and Variety
Open and Honest
Work Under Pressure
Work with Others
You also can look over this huge list of 400 core values
Use a coach
You can also employ the services of a coach to help you find and even define your core values. Often life coaches are able to see the forest for the trees. They have means of being able to help you peel back each layer of who you are so that you can dig down to the very essence of what you stand for.
These are great places to start. as you explore you believe you will be able to change and shape the words to get closer to the beliefs you really have. Take the time to explore what you believe to be your core believes you will be surprised.
Why guiding principles are important
As mentioned before the guiding principles guide you. What if you are asked to lie to your friend? If your core values are honesty you are going to stand your ground when they beg you or even threaten you.
People will trust you more if you don’t talk about other people behind their back. Because they know that eventually, you will have the opportunity to say gossip about them and if you have integrity about you that you don’t gossip other folks will know that you can be trusted.
You build respect from others when you adhere to a set of values. If you say you are going to do a project and you have a Complete all task core value then they know that once you start you will not stop till you have finished that job.
Who needs Core Values?
In reality, everybody needs to know what their core values are. Not just people but organizations need to have guiding principles. If not they can stray just as easily as people. Look at google they have been under more scrutiny since they dropped their motto of Don’t Be Evil. Some people would think that the motto is a core value too, and for good reason.
Therefore find your values find out what you stand for. Stick to them, because you will build a reputation of integrity and there to be a better and more effective leader.
You can change your Core Beliefs
Say you went through the whole process and after a year or two you find a word that really just isn’t jiving with you. Maybe you have changed someway. However, your beliefs may have changed.
Good news is you are not stuck with those values. You can change your core values if you see that you are way off base. Now you may have to explain why your values have changed. As long as you change you are being honest with yourself, that honesty will reflect outwards to the people around you.
If you change your values every day just to sidestep the guilt for not holding true to your values. Then guess what you are not holding yourself to your values. Yes, you can change your beliefs but as Shakespear said,
This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Finding your values is the start to building a good foundation. That foundation helps build a platform for your reputation and for confident leadership. When you have integrity and