The power of choice is one of the greatest gifts we are given. In fact, it is so important that the privilege of choice is removed from prison inmates as a form of punishment.
Although you make many choices every hour of the day, you rarely make neutral choices.
Each choice has a positive or negative consequence at some level. Your decisions directly influence how you spend your precious resources—time, money and energy. How you spend your precious resources is a direct reflection of your values.
Benjamin Franklin addressed values-based decisions when he said, “We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value systems we have selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make . . . .”
So, if you don’t use your values to make decisions and guide your actions, then why have them? If you do not value your values, no one else will. Your decisions directly influence how you spend your precious resources—time, money, and energy. How you spend your precious resources is a direct reflection of your values.
A look at your calendar and your expense budget gives an accurate glimpse into what you value. Making values-based decisions is not a once-in-awhile thing; it’s a daily action. For example, you might say that your priorities for how you spend your time might be team members first, customers second, and upper management third.
With that value to guide you, it becomes easier to say “yes” to spending your time with your higher- priority constituents and occasionally say “no” to requests from lower-priority constituents. Saying “no” does not just mean saying it to other people. Inspiring coaches often say “no” to themselves. When we base our decisions on our values, we are willing to sacrifice today by saying “no” to something that might be fun or tempting, in order to achieve tomorrow’s rewards of realizing our vision for a team, project, task, coaching interaction, etc.
Making values-based decisions removes much of the stress and pressure of making decisions “in the moment.” When you hold your options or choices up to the mirror of your values, the right choice quickly becomes obvious. Aligning decisions with your values also ensures clear thinking about the consequences of those decisions— good or bad. Select only a few core values, but live and lead by them unwaveringly, particularly when they are tough to stand by. Untested values are not as deeply held as tested values.
The best way to test values is to apply them every day with each decision and interaction. So, as you are faced with decisions, use your values to help you determine what to do. Making values-based decisions sends a strong message to your team about the character of your leadership.
Read more: For CEOs, Safe Decisions Aren’t Always Safe