When I was 12 my father decided to act on a dream, he had always had of buying a boat. Although he had no knowledge about how to navigate a boat, he felt sure it would be easy. For years he had searched magazines and newspapers for advertisements for a bargain. Eventually, the perfect opportunity came. It was an old fishing boat which he was convinced that with a little tender love and attention could make his dream a reality. My mother however was a little more skeptical and grew even more so when she heard that the boat was located in Inverness, Scotland. However, she knew there was no getting between my dad and his latest mission. Dad hired a captain to take the boat from Scotland to Northern Ireland, a trip of two days. He invited me to come along and of course, I could think of no greater adventure.
When we got to Inverness the boat was there along with the captain and so the trek home began. During that trip, two things stick out above all else. The first was that I got terrible seasickness the first day. That was the sickest I have ever been up to that point in my life and indeed it ranks up there even today. The second was a problem we had with our anchor on the first night. I had managed to get asleep after a day of sickness and was awoken to the sound of the captain explain to my father we were drifting because the anchor had broken. On hearing this I had a vision that we are going to crash ashore. Apparently, my dad had the same thought, but the captain assured him that he had full control of the boat and we would get safely home. Towards nightfall the following day we did indeed make it back safe and sound.
That experience of being adrift has stayed with me. There are times in my life when adrift perfectly describes what I was feeling. Jobs that initially showed promise and which I was excited about had become boring and lacked any meaning. What’s more, I was not alone in this experience. Many managers and leaders over the years have told me the same story. While some of this is normal as the newness of anything wears off. It also evokes a deeper question, “what are we anchored to?”
Ideally, the answer is a set of core values.
Life is full of choices. Some are big choices that have huge consequences and others are small choices we make every day. However, most choices are guided by our values. They tell us what kind of person we are or aspire to be, who we want to work with, and befriend. They tell us what we think is important in life and what is not. When we do not follow our values and let them guide us it takes a mental, emotional, and spiritual toll on us and our work.
Its critical we, therefore, take time to discover what are our core values. Some values follow us throughout our lives and others come in and out depending on our life experiences. At times in our lives when we become adrift, it’s important for us to be curious about how aligned I am to my values.
For this week’s EQ workout, I mapped out a step-by-step approach to discovering your core values. It’s always a great idea to revisit it from time to time to see how anchored my life is on my values or if anything has changed.