You firmly believe in Core Values. You have a great, well thought out set of them. Some for yourself, for your marriage, your family, your department, and, if you are the leader of an organization, for your entire group. So the issue is not the LACK of Core Values. Perhaps the issue is, your core values are getting squeezed. Squeezed? Yes, you have every intention of living and leading according to your core values, but “things” are getting in the way, getting in YOUR way, and YOUR core values are suffering.
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Most of us firmly believe that if we develop a platform of basic principles and conduct ourselves according to those, things will come out the way we intended. So what goes wrong that causes us to stray from our core values? Several times in my life, I have struggled with maintaining my true north compass setting, and as I have analyzed why it happened, each time, I can point to a “squeezing” of my core values due to one of the following six issues:
- Hectic-ness – when my life gets hectic, I have to take special care. All of that “hectic-ness” can cause me to overlook or inadvertently set aside my core values as I am dealing with the “busy-ness” of life.
- Urgency – at times, certain people will insist that we give them attention and even resolve their problem or fulfill their request immediately. As a result, we may drop whatever we are doing and jump to do their bidding. I am watchful of this, because it can cause me to deviate from the established sound principles I live and work by.
- Multitasking – I am an arch enemy of multitasking. Research shows that we are less effective when we are trying to do multiple things at the same time. One research study indicates that our IQ can drop as much as ten points and our productivity by 40% when we multitask. Personally, one of my core values is quality, and I know that the quality of my work suffers when I try to get too many things accomplished at the same time. We think we are accomplishing much when we multitask but instead, we are squeezing our core values.
- Noise – not many would argue that modern society isn’t a noisy place. If we allow it, that noise can easily drown out our still small voice that whispers core values in our ear. Eventually the gentle nudging of that noise has us doing what we don’t want to do, saying what we don’t want to say, going where we don’t want to go, and becoming what we don’t want to become.
- Deadlines – for many of us, deadlines are like a yoke around our necks. On one hand they can help to focus our attention and energy on getting a particular task done. On the other hand , especially for those of us who tend to procrastinate, deadlines can actually cause us to become so obsessed with making a date or milestone that we squeeze some of our core values (like our integrity, honesty, or quality orientation) right out of shape.
- Pressure – the dictionary defines pressure as an oppressive condition of physical, mental, social, or economic distress. This one is different than the others in that it encompasses all of those things that push on us. Often in combination, and due to the distress, these things can cause us to lose our bearings and balance. Once we are there, it’s a stone’s throw to a “squeeze” of our values as we succumb to the pressure.
It is not difficult to get wrapped up by one or more of these six issues and experience a squeezing of our core values. The good news is that with our compass guiding us in the right direction and our sails set to catch a good wind we can become resistant to all of these “squeezers” of core values.
What experiences have you had with things that squeeze your core values? Share them with us!