Define Your Values

I've learned a valuable lesson in 2019.

Just because I value something doesn't mean you need to value it too. Profound? No. But what is profound is when I discover you don't hold the same values as me, I can't punish you for it or be angry with you—now that's liberating.

Let me expand.

I have seven values, and I didn't just make them up for this blog post. I carefully and deliberately aligned my life with these values about 15 years ago.

I've written and spoken many times about the difficulty I had resonating with FranklinCovey's co-founder, Dr. Stephen R. Covey's concept of developing a personal mission statement. It simply didn't work for me. I was single until I was 41. If you had asked me then about my mission, I would have drawn a blank or said something shallow like more travel to Italy, better champagne, or something like that.

But this changed when I had the opportunity to hear our other co-founder, Hyrum W. Smith, speak at a company conference.

He talked about the power of clarifying your values. His talk struck me head-on, and I left determined to do just that. A few weeks later, after some robust introspection, I landed on seven values that would govern my life. I sequenced these values into an order that formed the acronym; PHILPAL. Purpose. Health. Integrity. Loyalty. Positivity. Abundance. Learning.

I didn't select these values for anyone but me. If you don't like them, I don't care. My life, my values. Your life, your values.

I highly recommend this exercise. My only advice is to select your values with no care about what anyone else will think about them. Pick them only for you. If financial security is your top value, let nobody shame you for it. If gaining fame is tops – great for you. Your life, your values. When you select them, memorize them and continually align your thoughts and behaviors to them.

Here's why I am sharing this today.

In the past year, I had a professional situation where someone, whom I helped tremendously career-wise, led me out on the proverbial plank and all but pushed me over. I'm too smart to be wholly pushed over by anyone. But this person's actions, or perhaps, inactions, were loud and clear. We don't share the same values.

For the better part of 2019, I've harbored significant resentment to this person, and its no secret to those around me. Then, I came to realize something. I place a high value on loyalty. I am fiercely loyal to people, businesses, contractors, all people in my life. I've had the same hairstylist for 12 years. The same employer for 24 years. The same mechanic for 20 years.

My wife can't understand it. For her, she would change all those frequently if it provided more significant value to her. Not right or wrong, loyalty just isn't one of her declared values either.

Loyalty has served me exceptionally well in my life. Have I been too loyal to people? Absolutely! Case in point, my loyalty to this colleague burned me a bit, but not enough to drop it as a value. Quite the opposite, I've actually doubled down on loyalty. I simply love the impact that loyalty has had on my life and relationships.

I've come to realize, just because someone doesn't value what I value doesn't make them wrong, immoral, disloyal, or dishonest.

I can't hold people responsible for honoring values they don't hold, just because I do. And the same courtesy should be extended to me.

Spouses and partners face this frequently in relationships. Sane, smart, loving people don't need to share all the same values to have a fulfilling marriage or relationship. Sure, some commonality is essential and valuable, but marriage or friendship doesn't require a complete melding of values.

I'd say I forgive this person, but there's nothing to forgive. They didn't violate their values; they violated mine. And they don't even know or care.

I'm growing up—slowly. It takes some of us longer – be patient with us. But most importantly, define your values.


Leading a team requires a different skillset than working as an individual contributor. To succeed in the face of new challenges, first-level leaders need to shift how they think and act. Download our latest guide and develop your people into a high-performing team. 

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a twenty-three-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the executive vice president of thought leadership. Scott hosts multiple podcasts including FranklinCovey On Leadership and Great Life, Great Career. Additionally, Scott is a co-author of The Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Everyone Deserves A Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices For Leading A Team. He is also the author of the multiweek Amazon #1 New Release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow. Scott writes a weekly leadership column for Inc.com and is a frequent contributor to Thrive Global. Previously, Scott worked for the Disney Development Company and grew up in Central Florida. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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