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“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” – Psalm 90:12
Whether it’s inches or miles, yards or feet, pounds or kilograms, measurements are an integral part of life. They provide an indicator of progress. How would you track your fitness goals without measurements? If you look at the top of each post I write there is a measurement; the number of words and the estimated time to read.
Measurements are everywhere. We even do them unconsciously at certain times. Imagine for a moment a world where no measurements existed. How would your salary at work be determined? Google maps would probably be of no use since you couldn’t determine how far a place was from your current location. This would make it impossible to ascertain the time of travel. Without scores in sports, how would we differentiate winners and losers? The competitiveness of sports that creates the thrill of victory or agony of defeat would be lost. Needless to say, the stands would be devoid of fans. If we didn’t have days, weeks, and months how would we know that we are reaching the end of another year? We can all agree, measurements matter.
Without them, life as we know it would be upended. If measurements matter, how would we measure a life? In recent years I have come to the conclusion that the quality of life should not be measured by the number of years lived but the substance of its days. In other words, to what benefit would a long life be if it were lived in futility? Seemingly, it is better to live a short meaningful life than a long meaningless one.
A Better Scale
Since we cannot use the common units of measurement, I have created the V.I.P life measuring scale. In today’s post, we will look at the vitality of Values. Next week, we will explore the importance of Impact. Finally, we will conclude our last post of 2019 with the power of Priorities.
By using this scale, I believe we will enter 2020 with greater clarity and be more intentional of our purpose as we look past the shores of goal achievement and plunge into deeper waters of life fulfillment. Let’s begin with the vitality of values.
Finding the Intersection
At the intersection of our actions, choices, and thoughts (A.C.T.s) lie our values. Values can be defined as what we hold dear to or what carries weight in our lives. Values not only shape and inform our present, they also give us a glimpse into our future selves. We derive our values from several places. We derive them from our upbringing, the family and the environment we grow up in. We also draw them from the culture of the society we live in. Depending on where our values originate from, I believe they should be tied to a standard of truth. The reason being, values are meant to be unchangeable despite the ever-changing nature of the world we live in. My standard of truth is the Bible, which is where I draw my values from. These values are expressed in the following roles I have.
As a husband, the values of trust, intimacy, communication, and transparency are keys to a fulfilling marriage. As a father, love, patience, and kindness are some of the values I hope to consistently exhibit and instill in our children. As an employee, hard work, respect, punctuality, and accountability matter. As a leader, integrity, humility, respect, sincerity, empathy, and responsibility are what I hope to exemplify. And as a writer, excellence, boldness, validity, and authenticity are the values I seek to communicate through my words and tone. But I have come to note that the greatest enemy of my values is not other people but my own feelings.
Feeling Based or Value-Based
Without values, we would be left at the mercy of our feelings on any given day. From experience, I have discovered that feelings are not the best measuring stick when making a decision. They are fickle and change like night and day. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for anesthetic living. Numbing ourselves to the realities of life only creates more problems in the long run.
Feelings are necessary but they should not be the driving force when we are on the precipice of a decision. Especially those with life-altering implications. There are certain moments when our feelings align with our values, but we don’t always have that luxury. Think of the times you felt like doing what was right and it came easily. Then there were other times you didn’t feel like doing something that you knew was beneficial. You had to pare down your feelings and see the value of the action was of greater worth than allowing your feelings to hold you back.
While feelings may provide a temporary sense of euphoria, values, on the other hand, provide an energetic and spirited way of living. Values are a surer ground to stand on than feelings. When we are true to our values, the spheres of life we are in have greater meaning and everyone around us benefits from them. In contrast, acting on our feelings causes a vicious cycle of hurt around us as we act in our own best interests at the expense of others. Subsequently, our relationships, instead of flourishing, end up faltering.
Feeling-based decisions are also ill-advised because they relegate us to what Clayton Christensen, author of the New York Times bestseller, How Will You Measure Life, calls marginal thinking. He defines it as a way of thinking where small decisions in the present are not viewed in light of future consequences. And according to Christensen, “thinking on a marginal basis can be a very, very dangerous thing.” So much so, he calls it a trap. When marginal thinking leads to feeling-based decisions we run the risk of violating our values. If the same course continues we end up trapped in a reality that we once deemed unthinkable. His advice to us is, “Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.” Even when your feelings try to get in the way.
Final Thought: Consider your next A.C.T. and ask yourself, Am I listening to my feelings or am I weighing my values as well? This is where the greatest battles of decision making and action taking are fought. Which one will win? Your feelings or your values? Answering this question will not only create the right standard for measuring your life but it will also lead to the second portion of the measuring scale; the importance of impact. Let’s talk about that next week.
Keep on Keeping on!
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE LAST BLOG POST OF 2019 WILL BE PUBLISHED ON DECEMBER 19TH. THE FIRST BLOG SERIES OF 2020, “THE PLACE WHERE IT ALL BEGINS”, WILL COMMENCE ON JANUARY 9TH.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A JOYFUL AND FRUITFUL NEW YEAR!