Win Today with Christopher Cook

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Core Values that Build a Life of Significance

Core values anchored by integrity-driven character bridge the gap between saying one thing and doing another.

“Fake it ’til you make it.” We’ve all heard that statement—and if we’re honest—have put it into action at some point in time. But you can only fake it for so long until the train called “momentum” stops moving.

At some point, what you actually believe will catch up to what you say you believe. And where your actual priorities are placed will override what you say you plan to do with your time and energy.

Listen, I’m not throwing stones or calling anyone a fake. My point is that for a lot of us, our good intentions collide with reality; and eventually, we end up missing our intended target. Apply that to any area of your life and you’ll quickly discover that big “buts” toss your good intentions off the cliff in no time.

“I planned on saving this money, but…”
“I wanted the relationship to last, but…”
“I thought I could achieve that goal, but…”

Saving Your “But”

So how do we save our “buts”? It starts when we gain clarity on our core values because core values provide a clear lens through which our truest self thinks, relates, and behaves in any and all situations. What I’ve discovered is that…

  • Core values anchored by integrity-driven character bridge the gap between saying one thing and doing another.
  • Core values attract truer relationships into our lives.
  • Core values not only dictate our internal behavior, but also shape our interaction with the external world.
  • Core values help us make better, clearer, and quicker decisions.

But when our core values are ignored, or worse, violated, we sacrifice authenticity and effectiveness, trading in progress and purpose for a life that spins in circles.

Spinning in Circles

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve pursued opportunities, avoided opportunities, said “yes” to people, and felt like I was spinning in circles all because I acted outside my core values. In my teenage years, people pleasing, fear of making mistakes (being wrong), and a general sense of insecurity blanketed my vision in more ways than one. But lately, I feel a sense of urgency to cut the clutter and just get better for myself.

Heck, I hope you want the same in your life.

Back to the idea of spinning in circles, what’s missing at the root of setting core values in the first place is vision. A wise man once wrote, “Where there is no vision, people are unrestrained.”

And that’s exactly the point. But in our modern-day vernacular, the word “vision” often gets a bad rap for being syrupy and theoretical, lacking in boots-on-the-ground action that gets things done. So, to avoid appearing like one of those awful motivational office posters, I’ll make my point abundantly clear: how you build your life is important, but why you make the choices you make in building your life is more important. Everything starts and ends with your “why.”

That’s where core values come into play. They answer the question of “why.” They provide foundation and framework for effective decision-making. And perhaps most important of all, they emanate from your heart, not your head.

Core Values that Build a Life of Significance

In my own life, I’ve endeavored to articulate core values that represent my priorities in relationships, finances, personal growth, and health. I encourage you to take time to do the same. While they are not set in stone, I want to share my top 11 core values with you.

  1. Most of the greatest assets I have in life are my relationships. Believing in the dreams of others is always a worthwhile investment.
  2. A good name is better than riches. My reputation is everything. If my word isn’t reliable, I am not reliable. Therefore, I will be true to my word even at the cost of personal desire or convenience.
  3. I will be known for what I am for, not for what I am against, including people.
  4. God is good and I am His child. He doesn’t cause calamity, sickness, poverty, or misfortune to train me or teach me lessons. His goodness doesn’t promise me a perfect life in this fallen world, either. He sees the end form the beginning, holds my life in His hands, and redeems circumstances He did not author.
  5. I pursue long-term value by taking time to make major decisions and shun impulsivity for impulsivity’s sake.
  6. Living a lifestyle of giving is a privilege even more than a responsibility.
  7. I only have one body. Therefore, I eat clean, unprocessed, nutrient-rich food, exercise well, and do my best keep the toxic thinking out of my life.
  8. I will intentionally seek opportunities outside my comfort zone in order to grow even at the clear risk of failing.
  9. Money is a tool to be used, passed, invested, and allocated, not objectified and idolized. As such, I endeavor to ignore the “greener grass,” live below my means, make wise investments, give to those in need, spend some on things I really enjoy, and trust God Who owns it all anyway.
  10. I will remain a constant student in life. I don’t know what I don’t know and as such, I am always in a position to grow.
  11. In doing so, I stay in my lane, work on my strengths, remain honest about my weaknesses, and eagerly welcome feedback from those closest to me.

The interesting thing about core values is that if they are authentic to you, you won’t have to remind yourself of them very often. Core values aren’t an intellectual exercise to memorize and repeat. Instead, they are deep-seeded truths ingrained in your belief system. When important decisions appear to be impassable, rehearse the decision through the lens of your core values.