Finishing Well: Examine Yourself and Your Values

To Finish Well Requires Self-examination And a Will To Matter

Do you know what it means to “finish well”?

Let me rephrase…

Is there any greater failure than to succeed in a way that doesn’t matter in the long run?

Let that sink in.

When pursuing our own notion of success, we can easily get caught up in doing whatever it takes to achieve our goals. If we are not careful, we can lose sight of the things that really matter to us in the process. I’d like to invite you on a journey with me as we explore the notion of finishing well. 

“How would you describe me in a non-physical way?”

This was a question I posed to my children years ago. 

Picture the scene. I’m driving with my wife in the front seat and our three young kids in the back.

Since I’m a bit of a coward, I chose to ask the question while driving so that I couldn’t see their faces as they responded.

Hey guys, how would you describe your father in a non-physical way?

At first, my kids played it safe and gave me the expected answers to a question such as this… you know, the answers we give to our boss or to a professor…the answers we know they want to hear, and the ones we know will keep us out of trouble.

I know you love Mom, and us, and God.

There was that silence, so I pushed and asked the question again…and ended up getting pushed back.

First child: I know that you love your work.

Second child: I know that you love your job.

Third child: I know that you love what you do.

Then, nothing but crickets. No matter how I prompted them , they could not say anything further about me.

The final nail in my self-esteem coffin was hammered in when my wife looked at me with that smile – if you’re in a marriage or serious relationship, you know ‘that look’ – then asked, “Are there any other things you’d like to ask and talk about?”

This moment was grounding.

And it was my defining moment- it was my turning point. For the first time in my life, I realized that my work goals had become more of a priority for me than my values, and this had seeped out into my personal life. I never wanted my kids to only be able to say that I loved my job and not be able to describe me in any other ways non-physically, but this was the reality I was facing.

Learning to e-value-ate our priorities

What answer was I expecting from my children? I’m not sure. But their answers got me thinking about my values. More than that, it made me think about how I project my values to the people in my life.

To be quite honest, I was having a crisis. Thankfully, my decades of experience helped me know how to cope- I knew that the key to coping with this critical moment was to find a way to leverage the opportunity it provided.

Being exposed by my children as a work-obsessed father was a wake-up call for me. For you, your moment of crisis might be different. For example, your moment of crisis might be discovering that your team can’t relate to your work ethic or your motives. They might not understand your personal or company values. While you might be doing your best to embody, the company culture might be rooted in “action” more than the company’s actual values… 

If that’s the case, how do these “action” assessments get rooted during a normal evaluation process? It’s simple:

First, you’re encouraged to list out the different options for your business or your role in it. Then, you identify the best or more preferable options. Next, you ask how it will impact other people. How will other people feel if you do/take this action? Then you do it.

Does this process seem familiar? This mirrors the typical goal-setting process for organizations– but what’s missing in this scenario? 

In the midst of this process, when did you check in on your values? Do you even know your values, or does the evaluation for success within your organization simply look ?

We all know of companies that spend thousands of dollars working on their mission, vision, and “value statements”, yet the result of all of this effort is just a website or brochure that says one thing and the way everyone works together says another.

The thing I’ve learned in 30-plus years of crisis work is that every person and organization has moments when– like a tea bag in hot water– what’s inside leaks out! If you don’t take the time before a crisis to center your organizational goals around your values instead of around action assessments, you might be surprised and even embarrassed at what happens in the midst of a crisis.

Check your values on your bank statement and in your calendar

Nothing brings out the weakness in a company’s core values like a genuine crisis. And these days, who hasn’t faced a crisis in business during the pandemic?

Believe it or not, now’s the ideal time to check-in. If you truly want to leverage a crisis to the advantage of your employees, your organization, and yourself, don’t wait until another crisis happens before reevaluating and reassessing your company’s values.

You might think that you’re projecting values relatable to your employees, but have you considered consulting your employees about it? Do you want to know what you’ve been projecting?

When I think about the values I was projecting to my family, I look at my calendar and bank statement. These are the real values that leak out in hot water. Where was I spending my time and money? How did it add value to my family? Did they think I was present, or did they think I just bought them presents?

When you look at the time and money you’ve spent developing your business, how much of it was spent developing your team? Do they feel valued? If you were to have them in the backseat and asked them to describe you non-physically– like I did with my kids that day– what would they say? Would they be able to tell you your personal and company values, or would they say, “We know you love making a profit”?

If you want to finish well, I’d suggest that you use this moment of crisis to reevaluate your values. It’s not that complicated.

Redefine health and start your journey to finish well

Start by imagining yourself engaged in a hobby. Now think of the outcome. Do you take personal pride in what you’ve accomplished, or are you looking for outside affirmation that you’ve done it well…even exceeded expectations?

When it comes to your hobbies, why would it matter what other people think of your success or failure? If you derived pleasure from the exercise, why would it matter what other people think about your effort?

Now think of your work. Is it a job, or is it a calling? Is it a means to a paycheck, or a vocation?

What about your employees? Do they feel like they’re part of something larger, or a cog in a wheel that functions solely to keep the machine functioning… and simply earn a paycheck in the process?

I want you to think about your vocation similarly to how you would think about your hobbies. If your goal with work is to simply please others or make a ton of money, it might be time to ask yourself: do my reasons for working align with my values? Have money and pleasing others become my values? Additionally, if these are your career goals, your employees will be able to tell– and these will become their reasons for showing up, too. 

If you want to finish well- in your organization and in your life- you must figure out what you value, and you must place what you value at the center of everything you do. Otherwise, you may end up like me– in the car with your kids and hearing them tell you the only thing they notice about you is how much you care about your job.

It sounds morbid, but I want people to show up at my funeral and acknowledge the ways I enriched their lives. I’ve redefined how to finish well. I want to:

  • Finish well in terms of my health– more than just my physical or mental health, I want to honor my emotional, relational, spiritual, and moral health.
  • Finish well in the sense that I know I have run my race, I’ve made the difference, and I’ve added value to the world in ways that only I could.

It’s time to e-value-ate your values. My desire is that you run your race, find the right coaches, mentors, and peers who will encourage you to remain motivated so that you can press on towards your goal and finish well.

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you:

The Important of Communication in Business and Why It Requires Transparency
Run Towards the Roar
Krisis: Reframing Wellness

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The Fortlog Advantage

Organizations across North America have been benefiting from FORTLOG’s Interpersonal Crisis Management, Coaching & Consulting services for over 30 years, counting on John to help shepherd them through their most challenging storms. Today, a growing number of workplaces benefit from John’s proven strategies, systems and speeches that focus on integrating core-value practices “not just policies and procedures''.

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