The African-American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X once said “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything” and this set me thinking about the question of values and the role they play in our lives. How important is it today to live your life based around the values you hold dearly? Do values hold sway in todays increasingly materialistic world? Do people even still live based around values? What are your values?
To me values are the core of the person we are. Our values are what we believe in and what we stand up for. If you ask yourself the question “Who am I?”, at the deeper level the response should be the values you hold dearly as a person. I hold the belief that you are who you are regardless of context, company or culture. Is it fair to assume that the values you hold dear are only true values if you practice them to all you meet?
For example, if kindness is a truly important value in your life, then mustn’t you strive to be kind to all people you meet or have relations with? Otherwise your just a fraud aren’t you? Being kind to one person because it suits and possibly benefits you is not the same as holding kindness as a true value in your life. Being a kind person and acting in a kind manner are not necessarily the same thing are they?
Living via your values is essentially about finding out who you are at your core. Who the person is when you look in the mirror. In today’s world where image and perception are seemingly more important than reality and our lives are scrutinized more than ever, it takes guts to stand up for what you believe in even if the view of the crowd isn’t the same.
But if we don’t stand up for what we believe in, then who are we? The nature of peer pressure means it is tough sometimes to go against the grain and risk being an outlier. Alas, if you consider it important to live in accordance with the values you hold dearly, this is the risk you take. And consistently take.
For me, much of Celtic Tiger Ireland was lived in a materialistic bubble and now we pay the price for a complete disregard of values-based leadership. Our desire for more ruled supreme. More profits, more houses, more cars, more holidays, more clothes, more money, more debt and ultimately more hardship. Ireland inc. never stopped to think of the hangover that a concoction of greed and power would leave us with.
Our values are our guiding principles in life and our guiding principles form our character. And when all is said and done, your character is the most important asset you own.
Believing in something, and standing up for this belief means being true to oneself. Being true is being honest.
I hope this post leaves you with plenty of questions. The answers aren’t simple but then life isn’t. What value do you place on your values? There’s only one person who can answer that question for us.
So hold values, stand up for something, believe in it and as Oscar Wilde put it, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”.