In its most simple translation, leadership is influence. We earn trust and respect, and others value our words and actions. However, when we make risky choices for our benefit — as opposed to that of the greater good — we risk everything if exposed. Now don’t get me wrong; there will be those who may not be aware of what is happening, but in that case, you are being deceiving. However, it is those who have come to respect you as a person and a leader that are most affected. They know the “true you” and watch a situation unfold and see the forest through the trees.
Your integrity and character are built over years of establishing your core values and non-negotiables. Those values are a result of your upbringing, experience, wisdom, influence, mentorship and education over time. Once you understand the importance of what your desire your character to be, you create your non-negotiables — those specific value traits that under no circumstance would you be willing to jeopardize.
You may have a core value of integrity, but through experience and wisdom, you focus on the traits that make up your version of your character; those things that that make up our individual values. For example, integrity to me includes honesty and fairness. But when I put it under a microscope, I add gratitude; not allowing my ego to be the enemy, and not to deceive others. That is where I draw the line with my non-negotiables.
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
I was taught that our core values serve as a moral compass throughout our life. With strong core values comes a disciplined charted course of personal success. Even if we sway off a bit, our moral compass will pull us back and navigate us toward our goals and personal fulfillment. I look at a moral compass the same as a directional compass. All it takes is for the calibration to be inaccurate for you to go astray to the point that you can’t find the path you began with.
But be careful with falling into a routine and not adapting to change. Once we get comfortable on our our path, a step off course may seem acceptable. However, the more steps you take in the wrong direction, the more you lose focus on your purpose, and you risk compromising the investment you have made in becoming the best version of yourself. You may spend years building your reputation, but it takes far less time to wipe it out than it does to construct it. How strong is your mindset to recognize “the grey,” that area that you need to be most self-aware when making a decision. Are you confident enough in yourself to make the unpopular decision based on your values and non-negotiables? Do you believe in the legacy you want to leave behind? Sometimes it’s lonely standing up for what you know is right, but in the end, it is what distinguishes those who truly have the courage to lead.
Those who just accept their decisions rather than think them through may defend their actions in front of others, but question themselves alone. That is a signal that they are straying off course. That is a cue to become more self-aware and talk to your inner circle — those people who can identify blind spots in your journey and help you discover the true answer. It takes a tremendous amount of humility to be honest with ourselves. We must abandon our ego and personal gain to see the process in a clear perspective. But the reward of that process is true growth and character. To say, “I erred in judgement,” overshadows any previous action or words spoken prior. It influences those who follow your example to know that we all make bad decisions at times, but it is how quickly we can recognize the act and correct our course.
“If you compromise your core values, you go nowhere.”
Is your moral compass aligned with the journey you have committed to, or does it need to be recalibrated? All of us need an adjustment from time to time. That’s the beauty of life — we grow one step at a time.