Integrity is Living your Core Values
I was a freshman to life, by my definition, from age 23-30. It’s a mentality, where the world is your oyster, you can do anything, and you’re smart enough that you know better. You can be this freshman for a year, or for 10 years, until you reach a point when you really see yourself as hitting a point of maturity from which you will not go back. No one ever truly has to grow up, but there is an experience or a realization, in time, where your perspective shifts and it’s not just about being alive and having fun anymore…it’s so much richer and deeper than that. For some it might come when they find a spiritual path, for others there’s an event, traumatic or enlightening, that opens their eyes. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge – it’s not necessarily a bad thing to mature a little.
Lululemon has each of its employees define their core values. I thought by writing mine down and saying “This is my core value” I would automatically start living it, or that I already was living it. The thought didn’t cross my mind that I would have to change my situation to live by my core values.
Few books I read get the life-altering moniker, but Brian Tracy’s Focal Point gets this designation from me. It got a train running that I couldn’t stop. I re-defined my core values in 9 areas of my life, and saw the same values came up over and over again. I finally had to admit that who I was being wasn’t conducive to the core values that I stated several times, and that meant dramatic change in my current situation, which I was undoubtedly enjoying (albeit only half the time since I was so stressed out!).
I always believe I am on the right path and everything is an opportunity to learn, but there are some old habits of mine that definitely need to fall away for me to pursue my goals. In January, I started making choices each day according to my values (read: BEING my core values). Amazingly, those things that elevated stress or damaged me, and things that I thought were hard to let go of, slipped away much easier than I could have imagined. Even though there was a little loss and sadness about some things, the ease of it came from the knowing that despite the fork in the road, I have defined what I want currently from my life (and what I don’t want), and once again I have reinstated the belief that I’ll always be on the right path.
When defining core values the outcome is always positive – it throws positive energy out into your world and attracts the positive back to you. Your core value for work could be professionalism. So, if you know you stand for the most professional approach, you will take the high road every minute. If you stand for happiness in your family, you may let go of a grudge you may be holding a lot easier in order to have harmony again. Few people have core values like laziness or mediocrity…but even choosing those gives them purpose and direction. Which makes it positive. Reevaluating your core values once a year in each area could be very interesting too – what about life has changed and why do you feel differently? If your core values are the same, how much stronger has your dedication to them become, and how have you grown because of them?
As a Freshman I had limitless energy – energy without boundaries. By clarifying my core values I now have self motivated boundaries to live by. I have also discovered that integrity isn’t a core value – it’s what you get when you live by your core values everyday.