The Value Of Your Values
In my day to day activities, sometimes I do get what I refer to some very strange requests from individuals and companies alike. As you might be aware of, I do offer customized training services for corporates, but other than that, I also work with organizations to create strategies for and in different areas of their business e.g. marketing strategies, customer service strategies among others. During those sessions, I get some odd requests here and there that leave me wondering whether the requestor really understands what they were asking of me.
For instance, when someone comes to me and tells me they want me to tell them what their purpose in life is, how do I do that? Honestly speaking, it wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I started figuring out what my own purpose was, so how do I tell a complete stranger what his/her purpose is? I can’t even tell what my own son’s purpose is right now, yet I carried him in my womb. Only his Creator knows what He created him for, but I can speed up the process of him finding out what his purpose is by leading him in the right direction.
All the same, in as much as I do get surprised when people come to me to ask me what I think their purpose is, I somehow understand why they do that. We are living at a time where the word “purpose” has become a household name. So I am not surprised that so many people are wondering what they were born to be or to do. I am not surprised that so many people are now raking their brains wondering about purpose.
Not knowing why you are on earth can be very frustrating, and it shows in how people perform. People who have no purpose in life or rather who don’t know what their purpose is will go to the office and instead of giving their absolute best they will drain everyone else around them including the customers who come into the organization. For instance last week, I had gone to visit a certain office and by virtue of the fact that the said organization is a global organization with offices in almost every country on earth, I expected that the people working in the organization would behave in a manner that is cognizant of the fact that this is a global organization, founded and operating under specific values. Shock on me!
Let’s just say right there I felt the need to start a customer service training for most of the people I had a chance to talk to; the receptionist, the service delivery people and the guard! Instead, I chose to (indirectly) address the receptionist who seemed to be the worst hit. As usual, I had my signature smile and a book in my hand. I placed the book on the counter as I was talking to her and of course the book caught her attention (which was my intention anyway) and so it became very easy for me to politely ask her to get a copy of that book and read it.
Of course looking at the title she couldn’t have suspected what the contents of the book are. I sincerely hope she does get the book and she reads it because when she does, her attitude and her life will undergo a major transformation. In case you are wondering, the book is “The Master-Key To Riches” by Napoleon Hill. I recommended this book three weeks ago but I didn’t get to read it then, so I am reading it now. Now that I am almost finishing the book, it is not what I thought it was; this is one literal case of don’t judge a book by its cover. If you haven’t read it please don’t let this quarter end before you do. The book could be the key you have been waiting for to unlock your year.
Anyway, like I said, I do offer training services as well as work with organizations to come up with different strategies for different arms of their businesses. The strangest request I have received so far is when the CEO of an organization asks me to create a Vision and Mission Statement. I find this strange for two reasons; unless the company is a new company, how has it been operating all this time? Secondly, all the employees who work there, what have they been working towards? I mean, if your company doesn’t have a clear vision, then it becomes hard to have any specific goals set, which means even your employees cannot have a proper job description complete with KRAs and KPIs. Without a clear vision, against what would you be giving them those guidelines?
It is not a wonder that some organizations have employees who go to work with the mentality that they are doing the company a favor, instead of realizing that the company has actually given them an opportunity to realize their own personal dreams. Before I move on please allow me to say this; if you are an employee of a company and you have this twisted notion that you are helping your organization, I have some newsflash for you – NOBODY IS INDISPENSABLE. The day someone better than you comes in, the day someone with a better idea comes in, the day someone beneath you in rank goes an extra mile more than you do, that is the day you will realize how not indispensable you are. My advice to every employee out there is this; treat the organization you work for as your partner in helping you realize your own PERSONAL GOALS.
I guess this opens up another can of worms in the sense that very many people are roaming the streets today without personal goals for their life. Every single day I meet people and after interacting with them for five minutes I can tell whether they are living a purpose driven life or not. People who are just going through life without leaving a mark in it don’t have goals. When I ask them what their top five goals are for the year, they often stare at me like I’ve developed a 3rd eye right in the middle of my forehead. People waking up to go to work without any personal goals to achieve is the biggest challenge with people today. When you have no personal goals to achieve, what will push you to achieve your company’s goals? Your HOD will forever keep putting you on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) until eventually you fire yourself because of lack of delivery.
In response to the request CEOs ask me about creating vision and mission statements for their organizations, my first question is always one; what are your core values? In most cases, they answer that question with another one that says, “what does that have to do with the vision and mission of the company?” The moment a CEO gives me that response, I realize that company is in bigger problems than the shareholders or the directors know.
Values are like the cornerstone of a building. Values are the heart, the backbone, the anchor, the center, the crux, the core, the main foundation of the organization. Everything else HAS TO align with the core values of an organization. So before you think of your vision and mission, promise statement and other statements to put in your company profile, please think of the most important thing first; your foundation i.e. the organization's core values.
Debora Morris who is the Chief Project Accelerator at The Admin Ninja, when asked what comes first between vision, mission and values, had this to say:
“Values aren’t like a breakfast cereal. They can’t be changed out to serve a purpose. If we attempt to shape our vision but haven’t examined and articulated our values first, a predictable pattern follows.
- Communication about the vision will tend to be flat and insipid.
- It will be almost impossible to get employees engaged in the vision. They’ll scratch their heads, wondering what is expected of them.
- Leaders won’t often have the courage to stand up and make tough decisions.
- Trust in the leaders wavers.
Now we have an environment ripe for a downward spiral in performance.
Values matter because results matter. If a set of values is not being served consciously, look for the “something else” that fills the void. It’s usually ego, greed, a lust for power, fear… or whatever self-serving value happens to pop up like a mushroom. If you’re taking over a new organization or group, or re-strategizing for the future and need a new vision, take a step back and explore your beliefs and values as a team. What do you truly believe? Why? What shows up when things go well? How might your organization express those values in ways that are most relevant to today?”
In other words, core values are the heartbeat of every organization. They are what pumps blood into the different veins (departments) of the organization. Core values are there to be implemented and upheld by the people who work in that organization, and not by the walls that hold the building together. That is why a company will go down and become completely bankrupt, but if it has strong core values and its employees live and breath the core values, together they work double time to make sure the company is back on its feet.
There are so many examples of situations like this in the books I have read, including the one I mentioned above by Napoleon Hill. For this week though, in the ongoing #52BooksIn52Weeks2018 book reading challenge, I’d like to suggest a book by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras called“Built To Last; Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”. I read this book in January this year but opted not to share it then, but today I feel the time is right to do so.
The text outlines the results of a six-year research project into what makes enduringly great companies. Two primary objectives for the authors’ research goes as follows: “to identify underlying characteristics that are common to highly visionary companies” and “to effectively communicate findings so they can influence management”. As you will discover as you read the book, core values will be at the center of the companies’ success.
You too need to have core values as an individual because without them, you will be directionless like a flag. But why should I have core values yet I am not a company or an organization, someone might be asking? Well, in case you didn’t know, you are the first entity you were given by God to lead. If you cannot lead yourself in the right direction, then what makes you think you can lead others?
Choosing your personal core values is one of the critical focusing decisions that can make an amazing difference in how you live your life. As a person, your core values reflect the fundamental choices of who you want to be. In your network of connected decisions, they provide the goals and criteria that should influence all your other personal decisions. Besides, you derive a sense of fulfillment when living your personal values because your motivations and actions are aligned with the aspirations of who you want to be.
So, for those of you who have been wondering what your purpose in this world is, try identifying your core values first then all else will fall into place.
Be Ignited. Be Inspired. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.
PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 20th of May, 2018, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".