Monday, June 25, 2012

The Importance of Identifying YOUR Core Values

In the movie, A Few Good Men, two marines stand on trial for killing a fellow marine. Their lawyer attempts to demonstrate that the murder was the result of an order that the two marines had received from a Colonel.  The order ended up causing his death.  When their lawyer begins to investigate, the prosecuting attorney offers to reduce the sentence from 20 years to 6 months.

The Lawyer, played by Tom Cruise, goes to tell his clients the good news.  Harold, one of the marines, refuses the plea bargain and chooses instead to stand on trial.  Cruise is mortified.  If the case went to trial, they could lose and likely spend a lifetime behind bars.  Tom Cruise looks Harold in the eye and asks him why he would refuse a plea bargain of six months.  Harold responds, “Unit, Core, God, Country.”  Tom Cruise, somewhat confused says, “What?”  He repeats, “Unit, Core, God, Country.”  Harold explains that this is their code.  The center of marine values is “Unit, Core, God, Country.”  Harold had followed the code, and if following the code meant that he would spend the rest of his life in prison, then so be it.  Unit, Core, God, and Country were his core values and they determined everything he did.  He lived by them and he would die by them.

What are your core values?  What is it that you believe in so passionately that it dictates your actions - it’s what you will live by and it’s what you will die by?  Although it may not be stated, every person reading this has a set of core values.  If you were to let me follow you through your day for two weeks, by the end of those weeks I could tell you what your core values are.  Core values determine your actions.  Therefore, it is extremely important to have the right core values.  Wrong values will lead to wrong behavior.  Right values will lead to right behavior.

What is the benefit of identifying your core values?

• Values give meaning to life.
• Values clarify purpose in life.
• Values help set vision and goals.
• Values make decisions easier.
• Values reduce stress.

How do you identify your core values?  Your core values are what is most important to you; not something you want, but something you literally live by and die by.  They are nonnegotiable.

Create a list of character qualities that are important to you.  For example: integrity, faith, excellence, truthfulness, etc.  You can google “Core Values” and find a number of lists of common personal values that will help you to think through this process.  Your first list may be very long.  That’s okay.  You'll narrow it down in the next step.

Revisit each value you listed and eliminate anything that is superficial or temporary.  Ask yourself, “Do I need it in my life to be true to God and myself?  If there's any doubt, delete it.

Repeat this process until you have a list of 6 to 12 values that are absolutely essential for life to be meaningful and fulfilling for you.  Write down your list of values and place it where you can see it every day as a reminder of the principles by which you live and make decisions.