People often ask us why we always begin our business coaching activities with a discussion of core values. The answer is simple. Successful and happy entrepreneurs always live in harmony with their core values. So we can’t possibly offer advice on potential strategies for a business without first understanding the entrepreneur’s core values.
What are Core Values?
Core values are things that we hold dear and require no external justification. These values are
the ultimate foundation for your business and should be used to guide your entrepreneurial and personal decision-making process.
Why are core values important?
If you, or anyone you know, is deeply unhappy, then I guarantee you that something that is going on in their life is in conflict with one of their core values. These are the only things that have the ability to make us sad. Once we accept this truth, identifying the root cause of our unhappiness is easy. And it also gives us the courage to change things, or better still, to avoid getting into these situations in the first place.
Let’s take the example of organic food growers. People get involved in the organic food movement for different reasons. For one farmer it might be all about the money. This farmer sees an opportunity to capitalize on the growing market demand for organic crops. It is a simple business decision and not related to any particular concern about the use of genetically modified crops or pesticides. If an opportunity came along that would allow the farm to double its profit, but involved the use of pesticides, this farmer could make that decision and still be happy.
But for many growers of organic foods, the business reflects a passionate belief in organic farm
practices. It’s a lifestyle choice that is central to who they are. These entrepreneurs are dedicated to changing the way we grow and consume food. These growers could never be happy if they were forced to compromise that core value.
The “I value” exercise
We all have core values, but we don’t always take the time to clearly define them. Try this simple exercise. Start with the phrase “I value” and make a list. Keep your answers short (ideally one word). There is no magic number but most people come up with 5-6 values. Hint: Your initial list might be longer, but chances are some of those values can be brought together.
And in case you’re interested, my core values are:
• The environment
By Denise Alison