It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. ~ J. K. Rowling
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I was meeting school friends to see a film. I got there. There was a discussion going. One girl had changed her mind and had convinced everyone to go and see another film. I didn’t want to see that film. I said so; to no avail. Then I left. No one else did. I felt bad afterwards.
Still, I knew it was the right choice for me. As a teenager, I wasn’t bothered about fitting in. I valued freedom: I was not going to let others dictate my agenda and my tastes. I had joined the group to go and see a specific film. We had an agreement. I wanted to have a good time with friends. When the film changed, the fun factor went down. Also, I didn’t digest the last minute change well.
My attitude towards freedom of thought and “fitting in” led me later into an alternative culture, which is still important to me today. The alternative community became my tribe (I ended up fitting in somewhere).
Here is a fact: You can’t please everyone. If you try to, you will please no one, including yourself.
Let me ask you:
• What guides your behavior in any situation?
• What makes you more comfortable with some people and less with others?
• When do you stand out versus fitting in?
There is a common answer to these questions. When you find it, you will know how to stand out and create an inspiring life for yourself.
You might have guessed the answer. Let’s find out.
1. One Cause To Rule Them All
When you have to make a decision or when you face a new situation, often you react intuitively. You know what to do. But have you ever wondered where this intuition came from? Is it from your life experience? The way your parents brought you up? Yes, it is. In short, what your parents and life have given you is: values. Values guide your behavior and decisions. You feel uncomfortable around people with different values to yours. And when someone steps on your values, you will stand up to defend them. Now that we have found the answer you need, let’s use it to create an inspiring life.
2. Get Clarity
To clarify your values, ask yourself:
What are my values? What are my must-haves in life? Write them down, in order of importance to you. Examples of values are: Freedom, Passion, Intimacy, Love, Success, Health, Comfort, Adventure. Note that your values are not set in stone, they will evolve over the years. As have mine.
For example, freedom has always been an important value in my life. Controlling my agenda and speaking my mind is at my core. This has not changed as I have become older. But, my creativity and originality have fluctuated throughout my life. They changed as I moved through jobs and when I started a family. Your values are going to determine whether you fit into an organization. They will color your relationships with your colleagues, employees and managers.
I’m sure you can picture colleagues and bosses who value their time with their family. And others who put their work above everything else. Some treat their fellow workers like real people. Others are more concerned about getting things done. They consider colleagues and employees merely as tools to reach their goals. People’s values determine their behavior and approach to life. Your values define you. That’s why values are so important in everything you do. If you don’t follow and respect them, you won’t feel fulfilled. You won’t feel right, you might even go into depression. Use your values to guide your life. Soon you’ll discover you feel a lot more fulfilled and happy.
Since your values change over time, you need to adapt them. This is the next step.
3. Get It Right
Now that you have written down your values, you awareness will increase. Notice how you behave in different situations.
• Are your values guiding your decisions?
• Did you organize your values in the right order? Or are you finding out that some values are more important than you thought?
Every time you notice something, write it down. Then, each week, review your observations. When you notice that something is amiss, make adjustments. Reorganize your values. Add to them or remove some from your list, until you feel everything is in order. This dynamic process will take you a few weeks. Keep at it until you know it’s right. Once armed with clarity, read on if you want to live your life fully.
4. Stand Up And Create Your Inspiring Life
You have reviewed and adjusted your values over the last few weeks. Now, let me ask you this question:
• Are you ready to stand up and fight for them? Are you really?
I hope you are. Living a more meaningful life involves standing up for your values. The consequence is: you will get rejected by certain people. It’s for the best. There is no point hanging around people who have values that are incompatible to yours. Now is the time to be opinionated. If you have followed the steps above, you will have seen how your values influence your life. You can now use your values as a blueprint to build the life you want. Use your blueprint. Build your house. Take action and start laying the bricks.