“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
― Roy Disney
Respectfully, I disagree with Mr. Disney. Every day we are challenged to make value-based decisions with many facets to consider around this issue. Often we need to take family, friends, or colleagues into consideration and sometimes our values aren’t in the best interest of the bigger picture. Ultimately, we struggle with the values we have come to terms with.
Will that line in the sand serve the greater good? Or when we serve the greater good, does it serve us? It’s complicated, isn’t it?
Here are three scenarios where I’ve found this to be so.
GOOD VALUE, GREAT INTENT, BUT WRONG OUTCOME
For many years during my former career in dentistry, I worked in a dental practice where each day the mantra was to be even more efficient. My employer, a self professed type “A” dentist, drove us hard. We ran like a well-oiled machine with no process left untouched. His practice was looked at as a gold standard for success, and many case studies were written about our efficient practice.
My former employer was always in self-improvement mode and he strived to become better at his craft. Many weekends and evenings he could be found at conferences or study clubs, bringing back new found ideas and efficiencies to our office.
He had a habit of driving our executive assistant crazy with his constant tweaking of his CV after each piece of new learning. With each addition he would strut around the office with a few more line items added… his new badges of honour.
Yes, his dedication to his trade was admirable. He deeply valued the wonderful care he provided to our patients and he felt responsible for those he employed. However, there was one flaw to his improvement master plan – those who he didn’t have time for. His family.
When his wife or kids would call or stop by to talk, he was too precisely scheduled to give them much time. I often wondered, when he was on his deathbed, if he’d be happy with the way he had orchestrated his life. I also cheekily played with the idea of his last wishes. Would he want a brochure handout box on his gravestone holding his CV?
Were his accomplishments what he valued over everything else? Sadly, this was not the heart inside of this man. He had a big heart. He was a faithful husband. He loved his wife and thought the world of his kids. But he was so caught up in providing for them that he’d lost his way sidestepping his family values – the more important bigger picture. And I’m pretty sure they weren’t concerned with his tome of a CV.
Watching my employer struggle with his values taught me the importance of coming back to my core values of nurturing and supporting my family but it still left me with some questions.
GOING AGAINST VALUES GROWS INTO LEARNING LESSONS
After many years of being an employee I courageously (naively) took the leap to self-employment and struck out on my own. The learning curve was steep and there were many days that were anxiety ridden. How was I going to pay those bills? There were times when I’d take on client who I knew in my heart of hearts wasn’t a good fit – counter to my values.
Why did I do it? That’s an easy answer – for the basic reason of paying the rent, heating my house, and feeding my child. These handful of clients whose measures of integrity weren’t the same as mine didn’t align with my values but I swallowed it.
Was I right? Was I wrong? It’s neither here nor there because it was the right thing to do at the time for my family.
Here’s the rub. Working with clients who didn’t align with my values taught me who I didn’t want to be nor work with. These learning lessons helped me become crystal clear about the work I wanted to provide to my clients and who was a good match. Now with a solid client list, I’ve turned away clients who I don’t get a good feel for.
Sometimes we need to experience what we can’t tolerate in order to stand firm with our values and not letting anything less into our lives again.
HEALTH – THE GRAND DADDY OF ALL VALUES
Years of running my business solo and the turmoil of looking for that person who was lost after a three-decade plus marriage grinding to a halt (me) had me moving slowly down a sedentary road. Add to that falling madly in with a rascal of man, taught me lots of lessons while having my heart given back in thousands of shards.
My health was gasping for air.
The biggest indicator that I was not living my values was my hair, which had always been thick and shiny, started to fall out.
My instinct told me to work harder. Put your nose to grind stone gal.
It didn’t take long to learn that putting blinders on and working even harder wreaked havoc on my health. “Go on a diet” and “exercise more,” that logical voice berated me. “You’ve always prided yourself on your svelte figure and being able to be the head of the pack with your cycling buddies” that chiding voice admonished.
The lecturing voice didn’t work. What did work (and is working) is giving myself a break and really listening to what my body needs. I’ve made myself a promise that I can’t begin work in the morning until I have spent two hours with me – taking care of myself.
I get to choose (imagine that) how I spend the first two hours of my day, which is completely blocked out of my scheduler. Whatever makes me feel good is the agenda for how my day begins.
I’ve started meditating again after a long lapse and what was at first an excruciating few minutes, now sometimes tops out at 30 minutes. After a long absence from reading novels, I’ve finished a few. My new outlook has me exercising in ways I like – not stuck at the gym feeling that I have to.
I found a massage therapist who starts her day at 7:30am and treat myself to a luxury day once a month. I’ve learned that working harder didn’t work but taking care of myself does.
My old self who valued health is now being found and that crowning glory I was known for is growing back.
We can often delude ourselves about following our values. It’s not as easy as Mr. Disney said about simply knowing them and then following them.
Author Bio – Even with the best of intentions, life and responsibilities sometimes get in the way.
Janice Tomich believes anyone can become an engaging public speaker – it‘s a muscle that needs to be flexed and challenged for it to grow. She holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication degree from Royal Roads University. Janice is the founder of Calculated Presentations; a communication firm that helps professionals and executives improve their communication skills, create winning presentations, and deliver powerful messages to boards, investors, employees, or the marketplace. Janice works with TED and TEDx speakers getting them prepared to share their “Ideas Worth Spreading”. As a founding member of TEDxKids@BC, a college instructor, and board director with the Learning Disabilities Society of BC, she is inspired by the stories everyone has, many that are simply waiting to be told. Find out how Janice can help you at www.janicetomich.com or via LinkedIn.