When I was a budding entrepreneur in my early 20’s (not yet doing any sort of personal development) my attorney suggested I read the book “Good to Great” By Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. I was getting ready to go on a business/surf trip to Nicaragua and would have time on the plane to read. At the Airport I figured I would look for the book in one of those magazine/book stores you only find in airports. This one did not have the book I was looking for but did have a book by the same author. The book was “Built to Last.” Without hesitation I purchased the book. The book was a case study on ten long term high performing publicly traded companies (more than 25 years) and their comparison companies. The one big take away I found was they all had “Core Values.”
A “Core Value” is a guiding principal or value. Like a self imposed rule that you do not break for any reason. The most important distinction of a core value verses a strategy is you can change a strategy if circumstances change and your strategy is no longer helpful. A core value you cannot change.
Many times people will say as an example of a personal core value is they don’t kill people. Okay, that seems reasonable, right? Unless someone is threatening your life or your family member’s life, or you’re in the military, or you’re a police officer. You get it.
An amazing example of a personal core value is forgiveness. The act of forgiving someone for something they did. Perhaps you remember on October second in 2006 there was shooting at an Amish school. The shooter shot ten boys and girls ages 6-13 killing five. This was one of the most unbelievably painful things that happened to us all but imagine being a parent of one of the children. Then a mother came out just a few days later forgiving they shooter. WHAT! Note link below.
How is that even possible? It was a core value of hers.
While this is an extreme example you get the point. A strategy you can change a core value you can’t no matter how difficult it may be.
I quickly came up with six core values on the spot before my flight landed. Done, done and done. Right? Wrong. As it turned out, this was a bad plan. I needed to take my time and live a little before I could make my core values. I needed to really set aside time to think about what really rang true to me. I needed to feel my way through it.
After living through the worst economy since the great depression I figured it was time to revisit my core values. I took time, thought and reflected on my ideas. This is what I came up with. Since writing these I have been able to weigh every business decision I made against them and like a road map I have been guided by them. When I have gone against them I always have felt it and have been able to go back to aliening with them.
#1. I want to feel good about what it is I am doing.
This is not if I have a bad day I’m going to quit. I believe if you hate what you do and can’t stand going into work, stop doing it. You’re not a tree. You can move on. Feel good about what you do.
#2. I want the best possible outcome for all parties involved.
Sounds pretty good, right? Well there are times you can get a big sale or contract or business that hurts the people involved to benefit yourself. This is not a high-minded judgment of others. It’s just a rule for me to follow.
#3. No single person product or service is irreplaceable.
Boy, this one took some explaining to my people around me. I was in the hot seat for this one but it has been a great core value and the most difficult to follow. The idea is that I am not dependent on any one thing to survive. Not even me! I want business that can live on after me and can live on without a key employee or partner. This core value give tremendous freedom to make the sometimes hard choices. It does not mean I just kill relationships. Simply just one thing cannot kill my business.
#4. There must be a reason for being in business beyond just making money.
I believe this is true of all businesses. A business must provide a product or service to benefit their client. You see this in almost all businesses except banking (currently.) The banking industry is in big trouble because as an industry they seem to be only concerned about profits not what products they provide. As I write this in 2015 more banks have failed in the first quarter of 2015 than did in all of 2014.
Hopefully you can use this to help your business. I know Core Values have certainly helped me and my businesses over the years and I believe they can help you too. I know in my current venture as a Commercial Insurance Agent/Broker I use my core values often. In fact, my core values are why I chose to do commercial insurance. I feel good, I only have to get the best possible out come for all parties involved, no single person product or service is irreplaceable and there is a reason for being in business beyond just making money. We help people everyday.