Why do you need core values? If you already have a general idea of what’s right and wrong, how will core values serve you in the everyday?
Core values are the difference between telling the truth and being a person of integrity. It’s the difference between
Core values bring energy to your spirit. They define the kind of person you are. They give your character strength.
So we agree core values are important. How do we define our core values? It’s easier, and probably harder, than you think.
Step one. Find a quiet place.
You can’t do deep mental thought in the middle of kids and family time. You can’t do it watching the game or working on your car. It’s going to take an area free from distraction, where you can focus on the task at hand. This is (possibly) a life altering activity. Give it the attention it deserves.
Step two. Get a notebook and pencil / pen.
This is going to involve some writing. Find a notebook that won’t get trashed later. Don’t do this on a scrap piece of napkin left over from takeout at Applebees.
Step three. Make a list.
Make a list of all the things that are important to you. If you can’t think of anything important to you, think about someone you admire. Maybe your grandfather or John Wayne. List out the things you admire about them. Maybe they were good with money or didn’t overlook the little guy. Maybe they were chivalrous with women and never got pushed around. Don’t be shy, just write it.
Step four. Condense.
So you have some stuff written that looks like, “My Uncle John was a really nice guy. He always greeted people with a smile and asked them how they were doing.” Now it’s time to pull a core value out of that thought, for instance:
But it sounds like Uncle John did more than just “respect others”. Maybe the core value looks like this.
Respect others unconditionally.
Congratulations! You developed your first core value! Now continue on until you’ve condensed down all your thoughts. Keep your list of core values to 6-9 points.
Step five. Use it.
Once you have a list of core values you’ll find they effect everything you do. They begin to define the everyday decisions you make. Let’s take the “respect others unconditionally” example. When you go to the bank you’re going to greet the teller with a smile and a “Good morning.” rather than a grunt while you stare at your shoes. When you park in the parking lot you’ll be between the lines so as not to make it difficult for someone else. When you find yourself wanting to scream profanity at your waitress, you’ll remember it’s in direct contradiction to your core value.
And before you know it, you’ll be being a better man.
Wayne Tingle is husband to an amazing wife, father to two amazing kids, and missionary in Central America. When he’s not building schools in needy areas he’s working on being a better man.