“Stand for something, and you’ll stand out.”
Values – how “airy fairy.” In this article, I’ll shed light on what values mean, even though they may seem a bit abstract. But clear values is something every brand of distinction has. And it is what every brand of distinction deeply understands.
One of the best ways to understand values is to think of a mother. A mother might be sound asleep at night, but when her baby cries out, she’ll thunderbolt out of bed, and tend to her baby. If someone threatens her baby – she will likely go into warrior protector mode.
(I would feel sorry for the aggressor).
Because that mother values her baby the same as she values her life. They are not separate – they are one and the same. She will do whatever it takes to make sure that her child is cared for. Her child will be sheltered, fed and protected.
The areas in which you demonstrate strong values are the areas in which your brand will stand out.
The benefits of clarifying your strong set of values, and adhering to them is self-explanatory. First of all – everyone has a set of core values that is innate to them. Whether they like it or not, their life demonstrates it (for more information on this, study Dr. John F. Demartini’s Values Factor framework). The point is to identify what they are.
In the areas of your highest values – you will have the discipline, resourcefulness and tenacity to preserve them, rain hail or shine. In branding, that stands out, and it is also what will determine resilience and certainty in the market, despite other people’s opinions and doubts. That eventually results in leaving a tremendous impact on the lives of others too.
Am I speculating, and being too idealistic with my presentation of core values? No.
The Wall Street Journal once accused Henry Ford of “economic blunders if not crimes” which would soon return to nip him in the backside. In their words, Ford had inserted “spiritual principles into a field where they do not belong.”
But Ford’s “Mission, Values, Guiding Principles” (MVGP) – helped them turn their company around in the 1980s, from a $3.3 billion net loss. Impact wise – Ford tranformed the American way of life for 15 million families with the affordable Model T. Not to say that everything that Ford as a company did was great. Because clearly, the exploding and failed Ford Pinto (1970s edition) wasn’t.
I’m not saying what they did was ethically right or wrong – no such thing. But it demonstrates how powerful values can be when it come to making or breaking a brand. I’m shedding light on the fact that values matter. And if you want a brand of distinction, you ought to give it some serious attention.
Clichéd vs. Authentic Values
Now, values like – raising a family, travel, leisure, personal beauty and money are all things that can be represented with our five senses (VAKOG – Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory and Gustatory). We can imagine what they mean. They are the more tangible values so to speak.
However – values go much deeper than that. The core values you want to extract, are the more abstract values such as “trust,” “connection,” and “integrity.” Yes – they seem cliched and overused. That’s because they are. The problem isn’t the values themselves. The problem is whether the values are authentic, and true to the founding directors of the brand. Otherwise – they are just empty words like saying “I love you” to someone you truly don’t.
I digress. But to give you an example of underlying core values, I present to you Kelly Slayter. Upon initial observation, one could say that Kelly Slayter values surfing. He will surf in very intense conditions, train rigorously, take care of his diet, and continue to compete even though he is over 40 years of age. To put it into perspective – other professional surfers are in their 20s!
But to say his core value is surfing – would be missing the point. If you read his autobiography For the Love – you will notice how obsessive he is about enhancing performance. To improve things. To question, reflect, and refine every aspect of his surfing, and his experience of life itself. He values personal performance on a deep level. If you go deeper, you will find that he does what he does to also contribute to the community and world at large, by way of sharing his gifts.
Underlying what we see on a surface level – Kelly Slayter values personal performance and contribution. It is what he values about surfing, and all the other more “tangible” things in life – that reveals his underlying values.
This is critical to understand. Think about it in terms of say, employing another team member and deciding if she is aligned with your brand. Suppose you used “surface values” to assess their appropriateness. And in this case, let’s just say it is surfing (illustrative reasons).
The problem is – if you actually value performance and continuous improvement in surfing, but your new team member values surfing just for fun and adventure. Then you might have a problem.
While you might bleed to serve your clients, and push the boundaries of value you can delive – they might simply want to sit around, laugh, have fun and explore things for the sake of exploration. This would result in a very conflicting working environment. Neither they nor you are in the wrong. It is simply a mismatch of values.
Your core values provide the foundation for your brand of distinction.
So my point is – dig deep for core values. They reveal the degree to which you and other people resonate on an evolutionary level. A sophisticated brand, will struggle to succeed with those who are superficial and shallow. And those who are superficial and shallow, will struggle to find a place for a sophisticated individual.
After you are certain on your surface, more obvious set of values, the question to ask yourself is – what do you value about the value? Answering that question, will help you get to heart of who you are inside. It will help clarify your core values.
So how do you clarify them? Simple. Follow this process and identify the patterns.
- Identify – list what you think are your top 3-5 values.
- Clarify – explain what you value about those top 3-5 values.
- Refine – identify what changes might need to be made, in light of having clarified what you meant in the earlier question.
Identifying your values is step one on the journey.
Ready to take the next step?
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