My core values are significant, and writing about them has brought clarity to how I approach life. But the real magic is reviewing and refining them periodically.
In 2019, I outlined my core values and was surprised by how many of my role models shared the same values. I briefly addressed how well I thought I was doing in each area at that time.
Now 2021 is here, and I am reviewing my core values to see if they remain the same or need to be adjusted.
Do my core values accurately reflect what I believe to be of utmost importance? Do my actions, behaviors, and practices support those core beliefs?
If you haven’t written out your core values, here is a short article on how to write your core values in 15 minutes that might be helpful.
In 2019 what did I list as my core values, and how did I define them?
Compassion is showing people the same kindness God has shown me. It stems from the idea that if God values everyone, then I should too.
Creativity is having a vision of how things could be and putting these thoughts into action.
Humility is the ability to correctly perceive one’s value, as well as the value of others, from God’s viewpoint.
Wisdom is the ability to think strategically about life.
Joy is the conscious decision to be happy regardless of one’s circumstance.
Finally, Excellence is the pursuit of the best results you can produce, regardless of the obstacles.
In 2019 I noticed that many of my core values were present in my role models.
My collegiate counselor was Dr. Fred White. He was a man of many accomplishments who was humble. He was a strategic thinker and problem solver who insisted that we never lose sight of the inherent value of every person we encountered.
My father was very creative. He was able to express himself well and influence others. He had a drive for Excellence that was never satisfied. He had the most robust work ethic of anyone I have ever met.
My mother is known for her compassion and her banana-nut bread. Her love of others has impacted me deeply. She showed me that compassion is a choice.
Arthur Ashe was a compassionate advocate with a strategic vision. His strategic thinking and compassion were instrumental in the ending of apartheid in South Africa. His pursuit of Excellence was inspiring to me.
Rayfield Wright was an offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s. I met him when I was about seven years old. This giant of a man was humble, kind, and winsome. His interactions with me inspired me to seek out connections with other races, and my life has been made so much richer as a result.
How did I evaluate my ability to live into my core values in 2019?
I felt that compassion was my most important value. Therefore, I aspire to be a caring advocate.
I valued creativity. But I wondered if I was taking time to appreciate others’ creativity?
I valued humility in myself and others. I noted my consciousness of my flaws and tendency to doubt my worth. Yet, I felt that God got a great bargain choosing me to follow him on other days. (Admitting self-righteousness is painful.)
Wisdom/Strategy felt essential, but I was uncertain how to move forward and use it. I had started mentoring and felt good about the opportunity.
Joy. I was choosing to smile every day.
Excellence. I was trying to be the best blogger, spouse, tennis player, and possible employee I could be.
But I understood the perils of perfectionist procrastination were real.
Did my core values change in the last two years?
Four of my six core values remain unchanged. I still value compassion, creativity, humility, and wisdom.
But in 2021, wisdom has risen to the top of my list. Every week I have a significant number of conversations helping others think strategically about the issues they face due to the pandemic.
And I enjoy these conversations. It brings out the best of my creativity and compassion. But, on the other hand, it is humbling to recognize how much we all need help and how difficult it is to ask.
I still hold Joy as a core value, but I have struggled with applying it to my daily experience. Don’t get me wrong; my joy threshold is higher in 2021 than it was in 2019. But it is nowhere near to where I had hoped it would be.
The last core value I listed in 2019 was Excellence. Of course, there is nothing wrong with pursuing Excellence. But demanding perfection from yourself or others is a sure path to failure and discontent.
Instead of Excellence, my final core value is Rest.
It is appropriate to stop my work and release it, even if it is not perfect. I understand the need to take a break and recharge.
I thought that Rest was the enemy, but I have found that the pursuit of Excellence is impossible when I am exhausted.
Did your core values change or stay the same the last two years? Were you surprised by the results?
Would you take the time to share this article with others who might benefit from it?
Here is an additional resource—a talk by Andy Stanley on the importance of discovering what you value.
Thank you for reading!
*This is an update of an article from 2019 with fresh insights from 2021.