When we think of values we think of personal standards or principles. I’d love to take it one step further and think of our values as something OF value, because they are just that important.
Our values are going to dictate who we are on our way to getting what we want.
The thing about this is that everyone’s values are different, so when two people combine lives sometimes those values collide and hinder any progress towards our vision.
Many a couple has lived their lives together without trying to combine values. They either live as independent agents or one presides over the other.
But, at Whole Life Entrepreneurship we like to think that it’s possible for everybody to get what they want. It’s all about sharing, listening, and applying.
Sharing and combining values is especially important for entrepreneurial families, because many of the family values will affect the business and the business values will affect the home. If they are not aligned it can cause a lot of division in both areas.
This happened to Adam and me. Before Adam and I did all the work to get on the same page he was put in a very difficult position. Our finances were, on paper, such that WE were the business and the business was us.
Adam and I have very different values when it comes to money. I am sort of a hoarder and he is more of a risk taker. To be fair, those risks have usually paid off because he’s smart about it, but I didn’t know that. My hoarding tendencies are mostly fear based and because I never really understood what he was trying to do, where he was trying to take us, I would often react to any money problems by snatching up my values and stubbornly holding it to my chest.
So when one of the employees of our company asked me to sign a document allowing the company to use our house as collateral for a business loan, my reaction was less than great. It was more like a big ol’ HELL NO.
It would be easy for me to blame the company or the employee for overstepping the bounds (and to be honest I have from time to time). But the truth I have to face is that this was a foundational issue within church and state, so to speak.
This was about Adam and me.
If we had been on the same page with where we were going and who we were going to be along the way, I may have been easier to work with. But, I felt very strongly at the time that I was protecting my family. Over my dead body would they put my children’s home at risk!
In the years since, Adam and I have tried to figure out a way to arrive at the lofty dreams we’ve built for ourselves while maintaining our personal integrity. We’ve had to really consider our values and measure every decision against them. If the values don’t align, they’re out and we’re on to the next thing.
It’s been a little more challenging than we expected since our backgrounds are so different, and we’ve managed to come up with 10-15 values we agree are important. We use those as our True North when making decisions that affect both the biz and the fam.
We started with each of us listing the things we felt were most important: family, travel, education, generosity, etc. We each had a list of 20-30. Then we picked our top 10 and cross-referenced the similarities.
The combined results define who the Andersons want to be at $60k/year or 3M/year. These are what ground us. These are the things we want to teach our children. They determine and justify most of what we do and why we do it.
We regularly check in with these as our situations change. As our kids get older, sometimes the family needs shift and we have to make adjustments. For instance, we dream of taking the kids out of school for a year and traveling the world, but we’ve held off because our son is really into soccer and his team is really important to him. Having a team player mentality is one of our values. We have to weigh that against the other things and make the best decisions.
It’s not always easy. There are definitely times when we still don’t know what to do, but it is very nice to be able to go back and ask ourselves if what we are doing is in line with who we want to be.
Our hope is that our children will see us making smart decisions that are well thought out and gives everyone some say in their own lives, but also help teach them that their decisions steer their lives. Every choice matters.
Having a dream is great, but none of that matters if you don’t know who you are at the end of the day. We must apply our values to our missions is we are to achieve true wholeness.