Core Values: Your One True North
We all have a choice of who we work with, who we socialize with, and who we partner with in life. I think this last year has really been a time of self-reflection for many regarding work environment, jobs, and personal and family relationships. When a life changing event occurs, it becomes an eye opener that puts things in perspective.
This past year has been that for me, and for many of my clients and colleagues.
When life is just moving along, we tend to get comfortable. Now, it doesn’t mean that state of comfort is good or bad, but it’s a known comfort. When something as drastic as a worldwide pandemic hits, chaos ensues, and life gets turned upside down. That happened for businesses, employees, families, and our day-to-day life as we previously knew it.
It’s times like these that we lean into our One True North: our core values. When we truly live by our core values, they determine what we accept and don’t accept. They set the course for all our decision making. During times of calm, we may waiver from our core values and not even recognize that we may be going astray. However, when something dramatic happens, we become acutely aware of what missteps we have taken and/or exceptions we have allowed.
As a female business owner, some of the most difficult times in my professional career have been when I have operated out of fear versus my core values. We all have fears, but when difficult situations happen and/or decisions need to occur, that’s when true core values surface. I have dealt with past bosses, business acquaintances, clients, employees, and friends who, when challenged around their core values, have been threatened. Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect in living my values, but I have learned to recognize that those things that give me the most angst are when others have challenged me on whether I’m operating within my own values. That is when self-reflection happens. Many times, it’s easy to dismiss those challenges because they are difficult when you must look yourself in the mirror. Other times, that self-reflection allows me the time to sit back and identify what part of the situation I own and what others own.
I’ve learned that I don’t own other people’s responses or behaviors. I can only control my response. Sometimes that may be firing a client or employee or exiting a relationship with a friend or business acquaintance. That is easier said than done, because it may involve lost revenue, being short resources within your business, or losing relationships.
We all have that sixth sense or gut feel when something is not quite right, or, as I put it, someone is just too “perfect.” That is typically a warning sign, whether that be a “too good to be true” business dealing or an individual who seems to have all the right answers. Generally, there is a lack of authenticity, realness, and/or someone that is in it for their own gain versus a collaboration for mutual benefit. That is when my antennas go up. Pay attention to your warning signs. Reflect on who you are – your core values, your purpose, and rely on them to make decisions.
Operating out of fear is never a way to live, nor is it a way to do business. Dealing with bullies doesn’t just happen in schools and social settings, it also happens in business. Walk away from those who are “toxic” and align with those that walk the talk and whose values align with your own.
Your reputation and success are based on the person you consistently demonstrate and espouse to be. In this world of uncertainty, chaos, and complexity, your only True North are the values you live by every day. No opportunity, business dealing, or friendship is ever worth not living your values. Rely on them to be the best business owner, executive, manager, employee, mother, father, spouse, and friend you can be. They won’t steer you wrong, they will only clarify for those you engage with who you are and what you represent, and you will find others gravitate to that strength of purpose. No one likes a chameleon. Be predictable, be responsive, be your best you and what you achieve in life will be the legacy that you leave for your employees, your children, your grandchildren, and your friends.
“The only people mad at you for speaking the truth are those living a lie.” —Unknown
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) is the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC