How We Spend Our Lives

Recently I had lunch with a dear friend who recently lost her mom to a very short and courageous battle with cancer.  I asked what she missed most about her mom and if there were any special reminders of her mom or small mementos left behind in her care.  

“My mom wasn’t a collector, so I don’t have a lot of things that remind me of her. But I do have stories. Stories of the way she impacted other people’s lives. Stories that make me think about the way I live my life . . . about the choices I make and the things I value,” she said.

Writer Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”  

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Essentially, what you do says more about what you value than what you say you value.

So, if you have had a hard time defining your personal values, pause for a few moments and give this some intentional thought. You have some choices here—either you define your life or you allow life to define you. I understand that not all circumstances in life are your choice—but the responses to the circumstances are your choice. So what choices do you make in life and how do those choices reflect your personal values?

Maybe it’s easy to define your values, but living them out is another thing.

If this is you, perhaps this list of questions will be helpful thinking through your own personal values:

  • Where am I going?

  • Why am I going there?

  • How am I going to get there?

  • Am I realizing my full potential?

  • Am I fully extended in my capabilities?

  • Is there value and fulfillment in my work today?

(Questions from author Susan Scott in Fierce Conversations)

When what you believe on the inside aligns with the actions you live on the outside, you have discovered your own personal values. And your personal values allow you to bring strength and consistency to everything you choose to do.

Companies have values too. Whether written or not, there are unique beliefs that drive behavior within your organization. And it is your role, as a leader in your organization, to model those values and make sure they are communicated and understood and lived out. Every. Single. Day.  And it is your job to encourage a consistent and cohesive culture that brings strength to your people and your mission.

Define your values, then let your actions articulate those values.

And if you need help defining your personal values, then let me help! Shoot me an email to let me know you’re in the middle of this process, and I will follow up with some next steps: beth@bethgraybill.com.

Beth Graybill