Identifying Your Core Values


I feel like everyone knows they should have some personal values written down somewhere…in fact in some circles the subject seems almost exhausted…but it also seems like few actually do it. It was a struggle for me some years ago to take a day without distractions and really hash out what the non-negotiables are that I stand for. But now, several years later, I still say my personal values out loud every morning and what a difference it has made!

If you feel it’s about time to get clear on your personal values then this post is for you today. Lonnie Gienger delivers some awesome inspiration and how-to below.



Identifying Your Core Values

Personal values refer to the standards of ethics and behavior that are important to you. They set the boundaries by which you live your life. They help set priorities in your life and draw lines of what you will and will not do to reach your goals. They should influence every decision you make.

Values are not practices, they are guiding principles that affect every part of your life: physical, mental, social, emotional, spiritual, financial, and business. They are principles like integrity, honesty, quality, service, excellence, and fairness.

One way to help you identify your personal values is to think of how you would like to be remembered if you died today. What would you want to be written on your tombstone? For example, “Here lies an honest, hardworking father who loved his wife and children,” reflects several personal values ¾ honesty, hard work, fatherhood, and love for family. These principles give meaning to your life and a reason for being. When your business is aligned with your personal values your work gains purpose.

Another way to identify your values is to ask yourself what you think others would say about you if you died. More specifically, what would you want the important people in your life to say about you? What would you want your spouse to say? Your children and family? Your friends? Your business associates? Your God? Your community? How you want to be remembered by each of your key relationships can help you understand what your core values are and what’s really important to you. Winston Churchill said, “You make a living by what you receive; you make a life by what you give back.”

Identify the values that are important to you. Don’t confuse them with values you feel you should have. Your core values are not what others think you should believe in or what you think others think you should believe in. Trying to live up to values that are not your own will only lead to resentment.

For a business owner, work is more than just a paycheck. Your work is a part of you — you made it happen and you are responsible for the success or failure of your business. Integrating your core values and goals into your business is one of the rewarding aspects of owning a business. When you align your business values with your personal values, it’s a powerful motivating force. Your work gains purpose. It will instill passion and energy in you. And, if done in a participative manner, it will also instill passion and energy for your business in your employees, customers, vendors, and anyone else you work with.

As an example, here are my personal values that I have repeated to myself every morning for the last several years. They are written in more of an affirmation format, with sentences describing the value, so I know exactly what it means to live that value out:


  1. I have a positive attitude and I think positive thoughts at all times.
  2. do unto others as I would have them do unto me.
  3. I am a leader, I lead by positive example in all situations.
  4. defend those who cannot defend themselves.
  5. I am a man of integrity, I always tell the truth, my word is my bond.
  6. I am humble, I do not seek recognition for my actions.
  7. I have self-control, I control my emotions and my actions regardless of the circumstance.
  8. I never quit, I am resilient, I persevere and thrive on adversity.
  9. I am creative and innovative. I am an outside-of-the-box thinker.
  10. I am healthy and strong, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
  11. I am a wise manager of my time, money, and resources.
  12. I am hungry, self-confident, and ambitious. I can do or have anything in life through DESIRE, FAITH, and HARD WORK.


There are a few different ways to write out your values, they don’t have to look just like this. You can have a list of single-word values, or you can have a list and then a definition alongside each value, or you can do more of a sentence or affirmation format like above.