When Values Are Clear, Decisions Are Easy

Roy Disney had a saying which helped guide him when it came time to make important decisions in one’s life and that was, “when values are clear, decisions are easy.” All of us in our lifetimes are going to have to make some important decisions. For that matter, there are about 25 decisions that you really have to get right in your lifetime. What those decisions are will vary for each person but the point behind that message is, those 25 decisions are the ones that are going to steer and shape your life and what you experience and the person you become. Some of those might be whether or not you decide to get married and have a family.

It might be where you live, the college you attend, all those types of things. And the point is, about every couple of years there comes a big decision that you have to make, and what you decide will really shape your life. Those are the ones that are going to require your utmost focus and attention. We have this tendency to occupy ourselves with lots of little decisions that paralyze us. So if you find yourself worrying about a decision you have to make, ask yourself, “Is this one of those 25 big decisions I have to get right?” Chances are probably not. So make the decision, move forward with it and learn from it. But if your answer to that question is yes, then you must ask yourself, “Am I making this decision based on my values? Am I getting the guidance and counsel from people I respect and admire?” That is the thought process that has to occur once you identify a really big decision in your life.

Before you can figure out if you are making a decision based on your values, you have to figure out what your values are as a person. Because once you identify what those values are, now ask yourself, “Is the decision I’m making in alignment with those values” and if the answer is no, then obviously you have a conflict. If the answer is yes, then the decision making process is actually pretty easy. It’s not necessarily easy to follow through on your decision. When values are clear, decisions are easy.

Now, the action or sacrifice that your decision may require might be very, very difficult, but deep down you know that it is the right decision. One person who was good at difficult but necessary decision-making is Jack Welch. Welch talked about how when he was running General Electric, one of his values was making sure that no person was greater than the company. The company was really the sum of all its parts and people were those parts. Welch believed that great leaders have edge. He defined edge as the ability to fire one’s own sister or brother if necessary if they weren’t getting the job done. If you’re running a major company and your sister or brother is in a key role but they’re not being productive, you know you might put the company in harm’s way if you don’t remove them from that position. Again, when values are clear, decisions are easy. Firing your sibling is an easy decision to make, but a very difficult action to carry out. So, the most successful people in the world are individuals who understand what they stand for and what their values are, and in decision making time, always reflect upon those values to make sure the decision aligns with their values.

Motivational author and speaker Tony Robbins had 6 primary values that drive all of us. Robbins said that if you can figure out what your top 2 are, any decisions you make will be based on those top values. The 6 values are:

  1. Growth – to know that you are expanding and that you are becoming all that you can be. You are growing.
  2. Contribution – giving back to others.
  3. Connection – building strong relationships with others.
  4. Variety – things are always changing, but in a good way, so that nothing becomes mundane.
  5. Certainty – things remain consistent in that you have a strong structure and process in place.
  6. Significance – the knowledge that you are making a big difference, that your contributions are necessary and appreciated.

These are just some examples of core values. If you can decide what your very top values are, you will be prepared to make any big decision that comes your way.