In order to fulfill our life’s mission, we must clearly identify our core governing values and unifying principles. Our lives should be constructed on a foundation of solid governing values. True success and happiness is a result of living in a manner consistent with our personal values. Unhappiness and personal discontentment is the result of actions that are out of alignment from our values. Your values are your personal constitution. Your values are your standards of truth and banners of belief. Your values can be identified by asking yourself, “What is most important to me” or “What do I value most in my life?” You may have values such as your relationship with God, yourself, and others. Your values may include such areas as chastity, humility, integrity, health, finances, and your use of time and intellect Values are as personal and different as each one of us.
What is important to me and my family may or may not be important to you. Before Joan of Are was burned at the stake, not yet nineteen years of age, having saved her country, she was offered her freedom if she would repudiate her vision and her faith. Maxwell Anderson’s great play, Joan of Lorraine, has her answering: “Every man gives his life for what he believes in. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing…One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe living it and then it’s gone. But to surrender what you are, and live without belief-that’s more terrible than dying-more terrible than dying young.” Your values are the principles you will stand for. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” But even more importantly, your values are the things you won’t stand for. Your values should be written out on paper and serve as the preface to your personal goals. Think about this scenario. Suppose you went to see your doctor and following the examination he returned to inform you that you only had six months to live? How would you spend the last six months of your life here on earth? Reflect on your answer. This question, “What would you do if you only had six months to live?” asks you to search deep down inside for the things that matter most in your life-what you value. The things you wrote down are the things that are most important to you. If you said that you would spend time with your family, make things right with God, or live somewhere else, then these things are your values. We can only be happy and fulfilled when we are living in harmony with our values.
If our values and our actions are inconsistent, then we are out of alignment. What happens when you drive your car down the freeway when it is out of alignment! It shakes, shimmies, and feels like you are going to lose control. The same thing happens in our lives when we are out of alignment with our goals; we feel like an impostor and we hesitate or become shaky, and we also feel like our lives are out of our control.Values should be expressed as though you are living them to the highest of your ability right now. However, they are personal standards you are continually strengthening. For example, your values might read something like this:
Love of God. I love God with all of my heart. I pray to Him often expressing my sincere thanksgiving for all that He has given me.
Love of Myself. I know that I must have solid self-esteem and a love of myself. I cannot give love away unless I first possess it within myself. This personal love is not egocentric; it is a solid foundation upon which I grow and build others.
Love of Others. First, I love my sweet wife / husband. She/he and I enjoy a unique relationship; she/he is my best friend. I love my children; all of them are equally important to me. I sacrifice for them and expect them to make the best of life. I teach them and learn from them. We spend quality and quantity of time together and each other’s company. We communicate openly and share in one another’s triumphs and defeats. I help my family members build positive self-esteem and maximize their potential. I love my extended family, friends, and all people. I earn the good will of every one I meet. I protect the self-esteem and personal rights of others. I respect the values, goals, and dignity of all people. I do not set myself up as a judge over others, nor do I seek to contend with any one.
Integrity. I am pure in heart and am perfectly honest in all dealings with myself, my family, and my fellow men. I am free from hypocrisy. I honor the trust placed in me by others; to be loyal in fulfilling the commitments I have made to others; to give my employer more than is due and to speak and live the truth at all times. I am never less than I should be even when at times I could be.
Health. I eat wholesome, nourishing foods and exercise I regularly to maintain proper body weight and body fat levels. I eat sugar foods and drink carbonated drinks sparingly. I go to bed early and arise early. I avoid ongoing introspection of negative issues.
Use of Time. Time is a precious resource to me. T do the things that must be done, when they need to be done, and in the way they should be done. I pay attention to detail and follow through. I meet or exceed the expectations of others. I make full use of every minute of every day preparing for failures while planning for success. I work hard and play hard at the appropriate times. I do everything with meaning and purpose.
Financial Security. I work hard and smart to develop a steady, sure income. I am independently wealthy. I do not depend on the government for my long-term security. I earn money with pure motives; to provide a safe, comfortable lifestyle for my family and to serve my fellow men. I use my money to build the self-esteem and characters of others.
Solitude. This day, and every day of my life, I have at least thirty minutes of personal solitude. During this time, I plan the best use of my time for the day, review my values, rewrite my mission and goals, and recommit myself to keeping the commitments I have made to myself as I pursue purity and excellence in every facet of my life.
You’ll write them differently, but it is important to write out your personal governing values and unifying principles and live in a manner consistent with them. In essence you are re-affirming your self-ideal and committing to be that person each day. As you live your values you will ultimately become that person. When you live your values you feel better about yourself, you feel more worthy, your self-esteem goes up, and your self-confidence becomes stronger. And you will also gain the self-respect that leads to gaining peace of mind.
In the book, Benjamin Franklin-The Autobiography and Other Writings, Franklin refers to such values as “virtues.” He outlines thirteen virtues and the precepts that he used to guide his life.
Eat not to dullness
Drink not to elevation.
Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself.
Avoid trifling conversation.
Let all your things have their places.
Let each part of your business have its time.
Resolve to Perform what you ought.
Perform without fail what you resolve.
Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself.
Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful.
Cut off all unnecessary actions.
Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and
justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting
the benefits that are your duty.
Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries
so much as you think they deserve.
Tolerate no uncleanness in body,
clothes, or habitation.
Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents
common or unavoidable.
Rarely use venery but for health and offspring;
never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or
another’s peace or reputation.
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
“The real values of life are solid and unshakable.
A financial crisis can rob us of all that we have;
but it cannot affect what we are.”
Living Your Values Affects Others
A young man took off with his squadron from an aircraft carrier in the far South Pacific. As they headed towards their target the young man noticed that his fuel gauge indicated his tanks were almost empty. He immediately radioed to the squadron leader who instructed him, “You will never make it to your destination and back, so you’d better head home.” He turned his aircraft back toward the earner. Soon he came across a squadron of Japanese fighters also heading toward the carrier. The young man, Butch O’Hare, dove at the Japanese planes. His airplane was equipped with a camera that recorded the action each time he pulled the trigger.
In reviewing the pictures, he managed to get in and out of situations that other pilots couldn’t comprehend. He literally took them all on using every strategy he could from every direction. Finally, when all of his ammunition was gone, he would dive on them, clipping their tails and wings. The Japanese must have thought he was crazy. They turned and flew away apparently not knowing that the American aircraft carrier was just off in the distance. O’Hare limped back to the carrier and landed. So heroic was the deed of this courageous young man that his home town of Chicago named their principal airport after him. “The Chicago O’Hare Airport.”
In the Chicago terminal, there are plaques telling of his heroics. Many other things in Chicago are named after Butch O’Hare.
Chicago is known for the great deeds of its citizens, like Butch O’Hare. It is also known for the gangsters of the Twenties: Al Capone, John Dillinger, and others. Al Capone, one of the most dangerous and wanted criminals in America, at the time had a lawyer by the name of Easy Eddy. Easy Eddy was brilliant. He could get Al Capone out of any fix that he might have been in. Through technicalities of the law, he would spring Capone every time. Al Capone made him a millionaire. He bought a ten acre piece of property and built a huge mansion. He had chauffeur driven limousines and maids and everything in the world he could seemingly afford. Easy Eddy had a son and as time went on he became concerned about the boys future, not wanting him involved in the corruption of his world. He had the money to send him to the finest schools and buy him anything he could ever want but what he couldn’t provide him was a good name. Easy Eddy finally decided that he would turn states evidence against the gang. He went to the FBI and the Chicago Police and told the whole story. He gave them all the information they needed. The FBI told him, “You know, you are a dead man. .We will give you three guards to be with you all the time, but you will be gunned down in the streets of Chicago somewhere, sometime.” Before the year was up, the prediction came true.
Easy Eddy’s son’s name was Butch O’Hare. You may never be asked to put Your life on the line for the values and principles you believe in. Your life may not be jeopardized by your standing up for what you feel is true. Would you if you had to? Do you have the character to clearly define your governing values and commit to live them-no matter what? It is not enough to pay lip service to your values. You can write them down and say that you have them. The acid test is how you live your values. Your values are best expressed by the way you live your life when no one is watching. It’s the example you set for others.
Sermons You See
Edgar A. Guest
I’d rather see a sermon that hear one any day.
I’d rather one should walk with me than
merely show the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear.
Fine counsel is confusing but example’s always clear.
And the best of all the preachers are men
who live their creeds.
For to see good in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn it if you’ll let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action
but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true
But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do.
For I might misunderstand you
and the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding
how you act and how you live.
History is rich with examples of men and women who have possessed the moral fiber to stand up for what they believed to be right and true. These people lived their values, rather than just paying them lip service. I interviewed Randy Pennington, author of the book, On My Honor, I Will: How One Simple Oath Can Lead You to Success in Business. In his book, Randy explains why the Boy Scout Oath-which has been around for 82 years-is the perfect tool for structuring any personal life, business or organization today.
He told me that 83 million boys have gone through the Boy Scout program, many of them have become some of our greatest leaders. Randy says the foundation of long-term success in business and life is to have strict integrity and live our lives in a way that any part of it could be published on the front page of our local newspaper and we would be proud of what others might read. I recommend you read Randy’s book.
Ask yourself this question: What kind of country would country be if everyone in it were just like me? If we expect our country to by stronger economically, politically, and ethically, the responsibility is on each one of us to do our part first. In your company ask: What kind of company would this company be if everyone in it were just like me? And in your family ask: What kind of family would my family be if everyone in it were just like me? For some, this is a scary question. For others, they can raise their heads with confidence because of the lives they are living. In the end, you are accountable to yourself. When you are not living your values, you lack the belief and self-confidence to look at yourself honestly in the mirror. You are accountable to the man or woman in the glass every day.
The Man in the Glass
When you get what you want in your struggle for gain,
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what the man has to say.
It isn’t your father, or mother, or wife,
Whose judgment upon you must pass,
For the one whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back in the glass.
You may be one who got a good break
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a fake
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you have cheated the man in the glass.