As I write about management and leadership regularly, I read and write about the importance of values. Businesses should hold values. Principled leaders should demonstrate their values. Emerging influencers should understand their values and seek alignment with the values of their workplace and peers.
I’m not going to ask you what your values are. I just want to know if they are significant enough to die for. Are your values so significant that you would lose everything – willingly – to support your values? And if so, do you know what they would be?
Nelson Mandela and Pussy Riot went to prison because their values were out of sorts with the leaders in government. Edward Snowden and the Dalai Lama went into exile because their values were in conflict with their home countries. And Nathan Hale wrote “I regret that I have but one life to give to my country” before he was hanged for spying.
What means something to you so much that you would forfeit your life? Your answer may just reveal something important about you. Are you willing to die? Do you tell us that your value is more important than your privilege to enjoy living in this world? All the comfort and advantage that you take for granted as your right of living – there is something more important to you.
Of my values, I believe the only one that would be worth sacrificing my life would be for my wife, kids, and mom. Very close family is my life trading value. And that doesn’t mean I won’t argue and disagree with them on most days.
Most of us will not know the strength of our values until one is put to the test of life and death. If your values are important to you, you may want to think about this question of trading life for value. Stop and ask what is really important to you. At least you know what you will defend.
If you know your ultimate life value, then other decisions should follow from that choice. This value should be considered first in any life or business challenge. When one holds and affirms this value, then other values will only be considered if they do not contradict the primary life value.
Simplify your decision-making. Know your foundation value, the one for which you might trade your life. Examine this value and look at your situation. All other factors in the decision are secondary.
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