It was thirty years ago when Tom Peters wrote his first book, In Search of Excellence, with Robert Waterman. What the authors said then still holds true today:
“Let us suppose that we were asked for one all-purpose bit of advice for management, one truth that we were able to distill from the excellent companies research. We might be tempted to reply, ‘Figure out your value system.’”
Last week I spoke to a woman, an attorney, who left the corporate world because the stress got to her. She hated everything about what she did, but especially the things she had to do to satisfy her company. She left her well-paying job for one with a non-profit. She’s organizing and facilitating the legal division for a 501C3. She’s making half of what she made as a corporate attorney. She’s a single woman and had to give up the kind of lifestyle that went with her six-figure income. But she is so much happier and more relaxed in her new job. She feels like she’s living “on purpose” and her work is aligned with her values. Though she misses the clothes, shoes and trips she enjoyed, she said her upscale lifestyle didn’t make up for the constant unhappiness she felt in her old job.
Living by your values doesn’t mean working for a non-profit and being poor. It does mean knowing what’s important and following your values and your heart. Designer Eileen Fisher started her company with $350. She runs her company according to her values – the fabrics are natural, the clothes are easy to wear and take care of, the dyes are from pomegranates and other fruits or vegetables. She honors the women who work for her company in a variety of ways, supports other entrepreneurs with grants and make sure the workers who make her clothes are paid fairly.
If you don’t know what you value, how do you know what to value…including what to value about yourself. On the other hand, if you know what you value, you can attract more of it into your life. You will bloom no matter where you are…even among the rocks.