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“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” ~Roy E. Disney

You’d think people would know, at some point, what they value and why.

But a lot of folks don’t (or won’t) take the time to examine the strength of the keel under their boat.

This is true for companies and organizations as well individuals.

It’s difficult to steer a sailboat without a keel: the wind will take you wherever it blows.

Think of your values as a keel on your personal sailboat, and the guiding principles that emerge from them as your due north on a compass.

Not everyone has the same due north, but if you don’t know your own, you’re liable to end up following someone else’s compass, trusting in their conviction. And doing so may take you some great places, for awhile.

However, to get there, regardless of whom you follow or what compass you use, you will need to make some decisions all on your own, independent of others and their opinions.

And that’s when you can wind up off-course and lost at sea.

When the due north on any compass becomes approval, for example, or profit, only, and at all costs—whether an individual or business (think Wells Fargo)—the sea becomes a fearful place and you can end up sailing in circles.

We’ve all seen company values proudly displayed on office walls everywhere. But what do they mean? And how are they implemented in everyday decision-making? These are key questions.

Best to figure out what, for example, ‘honesty’ means to you, why it’s important, and the implications of adhering to it, before you claim it as a value. Or ‘respect’ or ‘trust.’ I’m sure the Wells Fargo Bank has some such values posted on a wall somewhere. Can’t say they lived it, can you?

Values are your keel, principles your compass, character your sail, and purpose, the wind. Decisions come easier when we remember that.

Don’t worry about how impressive your boat looks.

Concern yourself with the strength of your keel.

And the compass in your hand.

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