Motivational speaker Tony Robbins, says that “it’s in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” He may be a walking encyclopedia of cliches, but he’s not wrong. Our decisions, our actions – that’s how we shape our lives. And, if every decision holds an opportunity to shape our future, the good news is: there’s a lot of them. The average adult makes over 35,000 decisions each day. And, the average adult isn’t starting a business, so chances are you’re well above that number.
Now, we could simply go about our day, allowing opportunities to pass by unseized. Or we can be thoughtful and reflect before we make a decision. As entrepreneurs, with so much coming at us, we need simple ways to filter decisions in order to maximize the opportunities before us.
That’s where your values come into play. Values guide your actions, creating a sense of focus. They describe the things that are important to you. They act as guiding principles for how you will show up and face any situation or decision. This isn’t about having a few punchy words on a page. This is about shaping your behavior. It’s about changing the way you choose to show up. Reflecting on those ideals before making a decision, provides you with a filter to make the best possible decision for you and your business. And, if you treat every decision as an opportunity to reflect your values and what’s important to you, then they’re not just words on a page – they come to life. Like climbing a mountain, every step, every decision, should get you one step closer to the summit.
Let’s get tactical.
For your values to be effective:
- Define them. Clarify exactly what the words mean to you and how they show up in your life.
- Don’t have too many of them. You want at least a few to make things interesting, but not so many that it’s unrealistic for you to live them all. Aim for between 3-5 total.
- Be intentional with how they show up in everything you do. Find small ways to bring them to life.
Here’s an example. One of my values is curiosity. Here’s how I define that: “Curiosity is a muscle. Exercise it – ask questions and embrace the unknown. Never stop learning. Seek first to understand, but never settle for the status quo. Look for inspiration to spark new ideas.” And, here’s how I bring it to life every day: (1) when I encounter a problem, I try really hard to flip it into a question, and (2) I read at least 10 articles a day (any subject).
You can find more of my personal values on my About page.
Here’s another example. My first clients were two friends looking to start a dance studio. Early in our relationship, we did a values exercise. One of the values they identified was community.
By using their value of community as a filter for decisions on their business strategy, they were able to transform the products and services they offered. In this case, they decided that many of their classes would mix age groups to encourage young women to mentor and support each other. That enabled them to create something valuable in the local dance studio market, where families already have a lot of options. Not only were they able to differentiate by using their values as a guide, but it also allowed their business to be an expression of themselves. Learn more about their story on their website.
By the way, one of the very first activities I do with each new client is to define mission and values. Get a free consultation today to learn more.
Identify your values.
What are your values? How might you use them to influence your decisions? How might they change or reinforce your business strategy? What values already show up in your life? Share your story in the comments and reach out to learn more about how we can identify your values together.
Starting and growing a business is not a straightforward and linear process. It can feel messy. It zigs and zags. It starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok. It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself. And, that’s why it’s worth it.