Follow your values.

“Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts inspire your words.
Be careful of your words, for your words precede your actions.
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits build your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character decides your destiny.”
– Chinese proverb

Entrepreneurs are often in uncharted territory, in search of new solutions. We find ourselves out where there are no rules, and sometimes there are no footprints either.  Even when there are rules, they may be founded on assumptions that conflict with those real win-win solutions we seek.

What then? Dig deep. Remember who you are. What do you stand for and care about most? What do you value and how does that show up in your actions?

Still stuck? Look at your bookkeeping and your calendar to see the evidence of your values in what you do with your time and money.

Follow your values as guideposts for this journey. Where the road is established and rules exist, let them be the curb-and-gutter. Keep your eyes up, focused on your options and destination. Looking down while moving ahead dangerously limits you to the boundaries of the road and can bring you to a dead stop.

For example, Edie Wonnell founded not just one, but two, of the first free-standing birth centers in the USA. As a nurse-midwife, she came from a world of many rules and regulations. By starting birth centers in the early 1980’s, she stepped up as a social entrepreneur to make her contribution to changing the way families get started. A birth center is rooted in family-centered care, a vast contrast to the prevalent insurance-practitioner-centered care. Some of her personal values helped her navigate the necessary negotiations for ground-breaking agreements with physicians and hospitals. Her personal guiding values were likely inherited while growing up in a family steeped in state politics:

  • Respect: Always be polite and gracious
  • Collaboration: Make friends wherever possible
  • Discretion: Say nothing unless it is really important to make a statement

What about you? What are your values and how do they show up in the way you go about your business?


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