Articles by Andy Miller

5 Ways to Define Your Core Values

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

In the business world we all get ‘bad vibes’ from time to time. Whether it’s an email that rubs you the wrong way, or a generally poor meeting atmosphere, we all know that feeling.

For a long time I would ignore that feeling, convincing myself that it’s silly to make business decisions based on ‘bad vibes.’

More often than not, though, when I get these so called ‘bad vibes’ I end up being right, and I regret that I didn’t do something about it.

I think I’ve figured out what that feeling is:

Something isn’t sitting right with my core values.

Now when I see these signs, I do something about it.

Uncovering Your Core Values
I’ve now uncovered at least five or six of my true core values. Since doing so, navigating my business’s direction has been much easier and more efficient.

Here are five questions you can ask yourself to make your core values more clear to you:

1. What do You Love?
This is the best place to start: passion. Strip away what you think you should be passionate about and be honest: What really revs your engine?

Core Value Example: “Obsess over Quality!”
When I hold an iPhone I get excited. I love the attention to detail. The lack of any noticeable seam gets my heart racing. I love the perfect way the components fit into each other. Don’t even get me started on the lack of visible screws!

2. What do You Hate?
What gets you really really angry may even be a better clue to your core values than what you love. I think this is because core values can be motivating, but they shine most when someone treads on them.

Core Value Example: “Always Dream Big”
Sometimes I get noticeably upset in a meeting because I feel like we are dreaming too small. I leave all flustered; I’m aggravated that we may miss out on something by thinking too small.

3. What Motivates You?
When have you accomplished something others saw as impossible? What was driving you? Your strongest desires and most intense internal motivations are often linked to your core values.

Core Value Example: “Make a Living Doing Something you Love”
I love to design, that means marketing my work is nonnegotiable. I once designed a new character and posted it to my blog every weekday for a year because not only did I love doing the design, I believed it would get my work out there like nothing else could. Many people couldn’t believe I didn’t miss a day, but for me it was linked to my core value, and I never lost motivation.

4. When have you given up?
Giving up on something should be hard for us. It can be perceived as a sign of weakness, and giving up on things too often can be a symptom of being unreliable and flaky. However, sometimes you have to say ‘I quit!’. Because it can be such a hard thing to do, it often comes down to a value issue.

Core Value Example: “I am more Valuable in the Idea Phase than in the Execution”
Whenever I get dragged into scheduling or paperwork I always feel drained and end up wanting to quit. Now I try to focus on taking on commitments that are more about theory than execution.

5. What has always stuck with you?
Many things come and go: relationships, jobs, websites, fashions, etc. Look back on your life and see what things haven’t come and gone. What have you held onto no matter what? Often we can get excited about one thing one day, and something else the next. Your core values will be things that have stuck.

Core Value Example: “Drawing is Essential”
Drawing has never left my side and it’s a big part of who I am. Ever since I can remember I have been drawing. Drawing helps me listen, drawing helps me ideate, drawing helps me de-stress, drawing makes me feel fulfilled.

Values can be learned; however I believe our core values are often the ones that come naturally to us. Uncovering these values can help us gravitate towards success and flee from potential money issues, unnecessary stresses and even failures.

Andy J. Miller
Joust LLC – Art Director
(812) 341-6599

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