How do you make decisions? It’s not a fair question because it depends on so many factors; importance, urgency, who’s involved in the process etc. But there is one thing, if brought to the forefront, will not only help you make your decisions faster and better, your decisions will be in alignment with your purpose, your vision and your desired outcomes.
What I’m talking about are your values.
Consider this: The Pope decided to resign because he believed that his declining health wouldn’t serve the church and its parishioners. Or this: Billy Ray Harris, a homeless man in Kansas City, decided to return a woman’s engagement ring after she accidentally dropped it in his panhandler’s cup.
These are extreme opposite examples. I’m sure it took the Pope many hours to make his decision. Billy had to make his decision in a flash when the ring’s owner realized what she’d done, went back to Billy a few hours later and asked him “do you have my ring?” I do believe that at the heart of both these decisions values played a significant role. Obviously, you don’t need to be the Pope to have values.
When you’re clear about your values and use them consistently you begin to live your life through your values rather than through your beliefs. Often what you think are your values are really your ingrained beliefs you have accumulated from experiences going back as far as your childhood. When you use your beliefs you’re limited to making decisions and choices that reflect how you dealt with similar situations in your past.
What’s great about knowing your values is that you are not bound to past situations to make decisions and choices. They have nothing to do with what happened in your childhood or even yesterday, instead values are in the present and help you look to the future you want to experience. They free you to be more creative, spontaneous and flexible. (The Pope didn’t let a 600 year belief limit him to making his decision)
As small business owners and independent entrepreneurs your personal and business values are interrelated and need to be congruent. Because if they’re not, you cannot consistently build your business in a way that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. Eventually your values will find you.
The benefit of being crystal clear about your values is that they will guide you on a day-to-day basis in how you act and make choices. They’ll help you simplify and speed up making decisions. When you live your values your interactions and relationships become more joyful, fulfilling and productive. Your values spring from your heart and bring you closer to your authentic self.
When was the last time you sat down and clearly identified your values. Are they in alignment with your WHY? Have you incorporated them in your vision? Are they part of the way you run your business and live your life?