5 Core Values that Define Success for Every Individual

“If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values; they’re hobbies.” — Jon Stewart

What are you guided by? Why do you do what you do? And what do you feel your purpose is? I find myself asking these high-level, philosophical questions to myself on a very frequent basis. They help keep me grounded and provide perspective. I pose them now to you as a way to think about your direction in life. If you’re just ambling along aimlessly — you’re missing the point.

We’re meant to love. We’re meant to find ourselves by losing ourselves. Then, we can build ourselves up through a foundational structure of values. It’s worked for me and frankly, it’s become the passion of my life. I’ve written a book on Values that I hope you will check out once it’s published this summer.

A set of core values are the source of greatness for the most successful, happy people the world has ever known. J.K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, all built their life on values. You can, too.

Herein are five core values that will define success and happiness for your life. I list these five because I find they have universal meaning and can be applied in any situation you’ll encounter in life. I’ll provide examples and practical guidance for how you can implement them in your life. Good luck and let me know how it’s going on your journey!

1. Honesty

Honesty should be the bedrock of your foundation, as it will define who you are before you even allow others to know more about you. If you always deal in the truth, you’ll live a life with far less worry. You can use your analytical mind to think of new ideas, rather than lies and excuses. Honest intentions in speech and action gain the attention and respect of others.

Honesty promotes openness, empowers us and enables us to develop consistency in how we present the facts. Honesty sharpens our perception and allows us to observe everything around us with clarity. President Abraham Lincoln is often the example of who we turn to for honesty. He once said,

“I have always wanted to deal with everyone I meet candidly and honestly. If I have made any assertion not warranted by facts, and it is pointed out to me, I will withdraw it cheerfully.”

Honesty is imperative.

2. Fire

“I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.” — Simone Biles

What’s fire, you ask? Fire is enthusiasm. It’s unbridled passion and excitement for living your life on your terms. Fire is named as such, because it lights the first inside of us and wills us to carry on toward our goals and dreams. I watched this past summer as Simone Biles, an extremely talented and passionate gymnast, one four gold medals and one bronze at the Olympic Games.

I noticed in every interview, each competition and how she celebrated with her teammates, Simone Biles is a woman who lives with fire and incredible passion for what she does. She was so determined to succeed and she worked so hard. But all of those mental and physical actions were fueled by her positive emotions! It was led by fire, her enthusiasm, which took her to the top.

3. Hard Work

What can be said that hasn’t already about working hard? For the skeptics who are quick to point out that hard work doesn’t always make sense, don’t worry, I agree. I believe in intelligent hard work. Busting your tail for something without thinking it through is a fool’s game. But working hard, with focus and desire is the key to getting ahead.

Michael Jordan knew that better than anyone. After getting cut from his high school varsity team in 10th grade, Jordan used that experience as inspiration. He put in several hours every day getting stronger, quicker, faster and better at the game of basketball. We know his name today because he’s the greatest basketball player ever.

No matter what you want to do, you have to be in “the arena.” You have to spend time working on your craft. If you want to paint, then go do that. Start doing it, then learn what it takes to be the best. You’ll improve in skill and realize that repetition is key. Repetition is the key to hard work! Keep going and follow the formula of the greats.

4. Confidence

I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story — I will.” — Amy Schumer

A major component of confidence is the value you place on yourself. Confidence is about the faith you have in your abilities, the person you are, and how you view your most important relationship — the one with yourself. It’s why I used the quote above from a very good friend of mine, Amy Schumer. She’s used confidence to rise to the top of her profession.

It keeps her balanced and grounded. It’s a powerful value that gives so much definition to the core of who she is. The same can be said for you.

Confidence gives us the strength to pursue our romantic partner, it psyches us up to get the job or opportunity we’ve prepared and dreamed about. Confidence tells the story of who we truly are in the most authentic way possible. It is our representation of the way we want to be seen and how we want to see ourselves. Be confident in everything you do and you will never be denied.

5. Perseverance

“To persevere is important to everybody. Don’t give up, don’t give in. There is always an answer to everything.” — Louis Zamperini

In Laura Hillenbrand’s brilliant book, Unbroken, the real-life story of American hero, Louis Zamperini, we gain insight into the remarkable fortitude, courage and perseverance that he exhibited all throughout his life. In particular, we gain insight into his struggle with physical, emotional, mental and spiritual challenges while he was stuck at sea and then a prisoner of war during World War II.

Louis Zamperini survived unfathomable conditions, cruel treatment and barbaric torture because he refused to give up. The power of his will and his belief that he would survive is a testament to the remarkable power of the human spirit and perseverance at its finest.

We need to understand that everyone fails at one point or another. Sometimes, the way we get knocked down is completely out of our control. But we have to respond and we have to rise to the occasion. You’ll find persistence and perseverance are ingredients that any happy and successful person put into practice.

I hope you find value in these powerful core values. Integrate them into your life. Once you take flight, you’ll be able to look back at your values — the foundation — as the propellers that got you airborne.

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