What if you could make one decision, and that decision would automate nearly every decision you’ll ever make again?
Today we’re going to talk about exactly that. Many years ago, I unconsciously made a decision. I established a set of core values and guiding principles, and in doing so, it became the ultimate decision-making engine that predetermined every other decision for myself. It enabled me to know who I would be and how I would respond to any challenge or opportunity.
In today’s episode, I’m giving you a simple process that will make your life easier, improve your self-discipline, and essentially make most of your future decisions for you. You’ll learn how to access a new level of effectiveness when you consciously articulate, clarify, and translate your core values and guiding principles into writing, and discover how to use them to lower your stress and increase your ability to act quickly, decisively, and effectively.
- Why failing to live in alignment with your guiding principles leaves you vulnerable to other people’s negative energy.
- The difference between core values and guiding principles – and how to define both.
- Why writing out your core values gives you powerful clarity.
- What my core values are and how they’ve guided me through some of my toughest challenges and brushes with adversity.
- Why I refuse to mirror negative energy I see on social media.
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Hal Elrod: Hello, my friends. It is Hal Elrod and welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am feeling good about today. And it’s a solo episode. It’s just me here. Nobody else, although my son was here like two minutes ago, having me sharpen his pocket knife. Other than that, though, he’s gone so it’s just me until I’m interrupted again. But that’s just me and you. And I am looking forward to today because this to me is a topic, we’re going to talk about core values and guiding principles. And I guess you could say it’s two topics but it’s kind of, they’re very closely related and complementary of each other, at least in the way that I’ve come to integrate them into my life. And arguably, the decision that I made many years ago, actually, I didn’t make the decision consciously, I don’t think. I think it was unconsciously. It just kind of happened because I had some mentors that imparted some values that I adopted into my life and then help me translate those values into guiding principles. And in doing so, I had made these decisions of how I was going to interpret the events of my life, how I was going to respond to the events of my life. And in doing so, that decision to establish my core values and my guiding principles essentially made every other decision for me. It made it easier. It made it that when life happened, I had already decided how I was going to respond, I already decided who I was going to be in the midst of any challenge or any opportunity.
And so, that’s what I want to share today is how do you identify and how do you identify your core values, which you may have already done, some of them maybe unconsciously. If you grew up, for example, with parents that establish values for you, like, “Hey, don’t lie.” There’s a core value. Honesty, “Hey, work hard.” There’s a core value and I think what a lot of us do, though, is we might have core values kind of in our subconscious that we’ve learned and then have guided our life without us maybe even knowing it. But I think that we can access a new level of effectiveness when we consciously articulate and clarify, clarify our core values, and then translate those core values into guiding principles which I’ll explain how to do that and kind of what the difference between core values and guiding principles are. But when we consciously actively do that in writing and then we review those, and we establish them and have them so that they’re part of our daily life, the reviewing of those, I think that it can, not think, I know from experience that it can radically enhance our lives, our effectiveness, lower our stress, increase our ability to act quickly and decisively and effectively. So, we’re going to dive into that today.
I’ll tell you what inspired today’s podcast or the topic, I was talking to a relative of mine recently and she said that she was talking about just all the divisiveness on social media, how it kind of bummed her out, how people were so aggressive and mean and angry with each other. She was seeing a lot of that and she said, “Gosh, social media used to just be you’d go on there and you’d see, most of you just see like what your friends and family were up to.” And, yeah, there’s still a lot of that, of course, but she said she’s never seen so much like divisiveness and hate and aggression and anger and people that if your beliefs are different than somebody else’s then all of a sudden people, you post something, sharing what you believe or what your truth is and you’re attacked and you’re vilified and people they’re unfriending you and they’re unfollowing you and they’re just being mean. And she actually that was her specific example is one of her friends had been just really hateful because she had different political opinions and been really hateful on her social media or on my relative’s posts, plural. It would happen over and over and over again.
And then finally, the friend of my relative unfriended her and was like, “I can’t follow you anymore if you keep posting what you believe.” And I think it’s fine to post what you believe. I just that condemning other people for what they believe, I think that’s where potentially it becomes problematic when the hate and that sort of thing is brought about. And so, here’s the point. My relative said that, of course, that bothered her. It always bothered her when this friend of hers was hateful but it really bothered her when she unfriended her and wouldn’t even be open to having differing beliefs and opinions. And so, my relative called her friend. I think like a week went by after the Facebook defriending, which is always a big deal. But my relative called her and she said she was tempted to bring it up and be like, “What’s your deal? Why are you so mean and hateful and spiteful? Why can’t we just coexist with two different opinions or belief systems? Why do you have to insult me and then why do you have to unfriend me?” But she said she decided that she didn’t want to bring it up. That’s not who she wants to be. She wants to be someone that is a force for good and a force for love and a force for compassion and a force for connection.
And she told me this. I got really inspired and I listened to everything else that she had to say. I just said, “Hey, I just want to commend you. I think that’s arguably the most important decision that we can make. One of the most important decisions for sure is, what are our values? How are we going to show up in the world in our relationships? Are we going to mirror? And I’m asking you this right now. How are you going to show up? Are you going to mirror the energy that other people put out? Now, if you do, there are two potential downfalls to that. Number one, you experience that energy. So, if someone’s mean and they’re hateful and they’re divisive, and then you mirror that, you’re like, “Screw you. You’re not going to treat me like that. You’re wrong.” Like, if you mirror their energy, you’ve also heard it called if you stoop to their level but if you mirror their energy, the first downfall is you experience that energy, that hateful, divisive, negative. You experience that energy. And then number two, the second part, that’s the downfall, you project that energy. You project it out there into the world and this doesn’t have to be on social media. Social media is just this grand amplifier of society right now because it’s so easy to post your opinion and then hate other people’s opinion like whatever or love, of course, both but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it and that’s what she and I were talking about is I’ve never seen it so political and politicized and so divisive right now.
Yeah. So, I’ve never quite seen social media that way. I think that when it first started and for many years, it was just like, yeah, let’s log on and see what our friends and family are up to. Now, it can be hard to do like you have to actually intentionally unfollow people and to do that without seeing a whole newsfeed full of negativity. So, back to the point of, I told her I said, “I think one of the most important decisions that you can make is to decide what are your values, what are your guiding principles, and then to live in alignment with them no matter what.” Unwavering. That is who you are. It’s what you stand for. It’s how you’re going to be. And here’s the benefit of that. So, I just told you the downfall. If you don’t make that decision, the downfall is you fall prey to other people’s negative detrimental energy and then you either experience it yourself if you allow it to affect you and then you project it back out in the world and you create more negativity. It’s just this vicious cycle. But when you decide, I’m just throwing out one value as an example, “I value unconditional love and acceptance of all people.” I value compassion, I value understanding, I value empathy. If those are some of your values, then you almost create a force field of positivity, where it’s like, “Hey, if someone is hateful, I’m not going to internalize that. If someone’s mean, I’m not going to internalize that like I’m not going to take that personal. That’s them. That’s their issue.”
If someone is hateful, that’s their issue. If anything, I’m going to sympathize. I’m going to empathize. I’m going to feel for them and not from a place of being on a pedestal. Not in a condescending way like, “Oh, you poor thing. You’re so hateful.” No. Like in a genuine authentic way like, “Wow, man. They have so much hate and so much anger inside and maybe it’s stemming from all the fear that they’re living with. I feel for them.” And then if you go back to what my relative did, she called her friend and instead of mirroring that which she was tempted to do, those feelings welled up inside her like, “Why are you so mean? And why are you that way?” She wanted to ask, “Why did you defriend me on Facebook? Why can’t we coexist?” But instead, she decided that she was going to live her values of love and compassion and empathy and understanding and curiosity and she called her, didn’t mention the Facebook thing, didn’t mention the posts or the comments or the unfriending. She just asked her how she was doing and how her grandkids were and how her kids were. And she just asked her about life and just loved on her. So, look at what happened.
Because she has her core values and guiding principles in place and she decided to live in alignment with those, the two benefits, one, because she projected and came from a place of love instead of the opposite, she experienced love. That phone call could have turned dark. It could have turned into her mirroring that negative hateful energy of her friend and then her friend and it would have just been this that vicious cycle and I’m sure they both would have experienced a very unpleasant phone call. And they probably would have gotten off the phone feeling more hate and more divisiveness. But because the one person, it only takes one person because one person, my relative, decided she was going to show up with that positive, loving, sympathetic, empathetic, kind energy, they had a beautiful phone call. And she felt great. My relative felt great getting off the phone. And I can’t speak for her friend but I’d imagine her friend felt probably better and she might have felt negative emotions. It might have been emotions like guilt like, “Man, I’ve been really mean to my friend like I’ve been really hateful like I unfriended her and she’s still loving me. She’s still reaching out to me. She still cares about me.”
So, if anything, there may have been a little bit of like guilt for that person, I don’t know, but I would imagine she felt overall pretty good because one person, we can’t control other people. My relative can only control one person and that’s her. I can only control one person and that’s me. And you can only control one person and that’s you. And so, deciding what are our core values? What do we stand for? What is important to us? What values are we going to live by and treat others according to? And then getting clear on what are the guiding principles that will guide our decisions and our words and our actions. Again, I’m going to break these down here in a few minutes on what are core values versus guiding principles? How do you differentiate? How do they work together? And how can you identify yours or clarify yours or articulate them or even just get them in writing so you can really look at them and embody them and ask yourself every day, “Am I living in alignment with these values? Am I living in alignment with the guiding principles that I’ve decided will enrich my life and allow me to live the life that I want to live, to be the best version of yourself, to be the person that you aspire to be in every interaction?”
By the way, the other thing I wanted to mention is when you and this is what I said to my relative, I said the other cool part about it is you create like this force filled with positivity where no matter how other people treat you when you kind of remove yourself from, “Hey, they’re just living out of fear,” and you don’t internalize that. You don’t take it personally and you genuinely care for every person. You care for what they’re going through, and maybe you’ve been reached out with that and go, “Hey, how are you doing? How are you doing? I’ve noticed like I felt some stress from you.” You don’t even need to say that. Every situation is different. Every person is different. But the point is when you come from this place of living in alignment with your values and your guiding principles, you kind of create a force field around you where nothing needs to get through it. Nothing needs to get through it. Like if someone’s mean or hateful, again, that’s on them. It has nothing to do with you. Their opinion, their projections, their anger, their hate, even if they direct it toward you, it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with them. That’s a landmark forum principle.
If you ever heard of the landmark forum, my wife and I attended that, I don’t know, 15 years ago I think and that was one of the guiding principles, you could say. There is take nothing personally. Anything anyone else says or does has nothing to do with you. It’s all about them. And I shouldn’t say nothing to do with you. You might have done something that triggered them and you can be if one of your values is to be considerate of others, then you would want to look at that and consider it but you don’t need to internalize it in a way that really is destructive for you.
Hal Elrod: So, anyway, let’s dive in. So, that was the story. Once my relatives shared that with me and I go, “Gosh, I want to record a podcast about that,” like that’s the most important decision that you can make is who are you going to be? What are the values that you are going to live by and the guiding principles no matter what? No matter what’s going on around you, you decide, “This is who I am. This is how I show up.” So, I’m going to define core values and guiding principles here real quick. I don’t think I mentioned this. There’s one item of note, I wanted to mention this. There’s a book called The ONE Thing. You may have heard of it. I’ve had one of the authors, Jay Papasan, on the show before. Gary Keller is the other co-author, the founder of Keller Williams Realty. Two of the most brilliant human beings that I know, by the way, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. And they wrote a book called The ONE Thing and they had in that book, if you’re familiar, if you haven’t read it, by the way, it’s one of my must-reads for sure. They had what they call the focusing question. And the focusing question is this, what’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will become easier or unnecessary? I’m going to say that again. What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will become easier or unnecessary? And that’s today’s podcast, deciding on your core values and your guiding principles, getting real clear on them. And again, they might already be in your subconscious. A lot of them you were probably raised with. You gained core values, you gained guiding principles from mentors, from your religion, from beliefs that were imparted into your life and wisdom that you’ve learned from books you’ve read.
So, our core values are often inside us kind of jumbled around but there’s real value, and when you put them on paper and you get really clear, kind of like the 10 commandments. Like these are my values that I’m going to live in alignment with. And you can borrow them from others, Some of the 10 commandments or all of them might be part of your core values. Anyway, so where was I going with that? So, the focusing question, what’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will become easier or unnecessary when you decide on your core values? That decision to create your guiding principles and your core values is the one decision that you can make. It’s the one thing that you can do such that by doing it, everything else will become easier or unnecessary. If you decide on your values in advance, then when you’re faced with a challenge or an opportunity or any choice, it’s already been made for you. I’ll give you a couple of examples. Some of my core values one is faith or really its unwavering faith. And I translate that into a guiding principle by saying I will maintain unwavering faith that I can overcome or accomplish anything in my life no matter what. There’s no other option. That is my guiding principle around the core value of unwavering faith.
And so, when I was faced with my car accident and the doctor said I would never walk again, I had already established that principle about a year earlier of unwavering faith, where I go, “Oh, I know you’re saying I’m never going to walk again but I have unwavering faith that I will walk again no matter what. There’s no other option.” And then at the same time, I have another core value of acceptance or what I call unconditional acceptance. And that is translated into a guiding principle that says, “I will accept anything and everything in my life that’s out of my control, no matter what. There’s no other option.” Again, that is an unwavering guiding principle that it’s unconditional acceptance for life exactly as it is. So, I had accepted the worst-case scenario, I might never walk again, while I maintain unwavering faith that I could walk again, and both values existed simultaneously. There wasn’t much fear because I always replace that fear with the unwavering faith. And if I got scared of the worst-case scenario, I reminded myself I accept life exactly as it is. I will make the best of it no matter what. It doesn’t matter. And so, those are a couple of examples of how when adversity struck, my values, the decisions of how I was going to respond to that adversity were already made.
Fast forward 17 or 18 years later, when I was diagnosed with cancer, again, both decisions, both values, unwavering faith and unconditional acceptance already made. So, when I was diagnosed with cancer, there was no, “I wish I didn’t have cancer.” I didn’t even think that because I had made 20 years ago, I decided that no matter what happens in my life, I’m not going to wish it were different. I’m not going to wish reality were different than it is because that’s delusional. That’s futile. Reality is as it is. That book I’ve been quoting a lot lately, Byron Katie, Loving What Is. To paraphrase, Byron Katie says she’s a lover of reality because she finds that when she fights against reality, when she wishes it were different, she loses but only every single time. When you fight reality, that’s a battle that you lose every time and you create that emotional pain for yourself. So, when I was diagnosed with cancer, one of my values of unconditional acceptance and my guiding principle, I will accept all things that are out of my control no matter what. Well, cancer was out of my control. I had cancer. So, I was at peace with it. I had accepted it before it even happened. I call that accepting life before it happens. Once you have this guiding principle of acceptance, this core value, you’ve decided you’re going to accept all things no matter what, if they’re out of your control, and no matter what happens, that principle guides you through it.
And then I maintained unwavering faith that I was going to beat cancer. Remember, I had a guiding principle that said, “I have unwavering faith. I can overcome anything or accomplish anything that I’m committed to.” And so, whenever I felt fear, it was quickly almost immediately unconsciously automatically replaced with faith, with unwavering faith. So, that’s a couple of examples of how when you make this decision to identify your values and live in alignment with these values and these guiding principles, and again, by the end today, I’m going to break down how you can kind of do that as an exercise but when you do that, the decisions of how you’re going to show up, how you’re going to respond, how you’re going to react to everything in life, they’ve already been made. And the longer you live in alignment with your values and your guiding principles, the more often you review them which see daily as the ideal amount of the frequency to review them daily and your affirmations during your Miracle Morning, the more often you review your core values and your guiding principles and the longer you live in alignment with them, the more they just become part of who you are and you don’t have to even think about them. The decisions are already made for you.
So, here’s a couple of quick definitions. I kind of got ahead of myself with some examples. We’re going to pull it back a little bit. So, in terms of core values, core values are personal values that guide you in making important decisions. So, I have values around my health, which guide what I’m going to eat. I have values around my morning ritual. I have values around every aspect of my life, values of honesty and integrity. So, when I’m faced with the choice to, “Should I lie right now to get out of this?” I’ve embedded this value of honesty and integrity for so long and most of you probably have like this isn’t rocket science. Most of you were probably taught like tell the truth. Don’t lie. Not everybody, though, of course. Not everybody lives in alignment with that. But that’s an example of a value where the decision is made ahead of time. It’s made ahead of time. So, core values are personal values that guide you in making important decisions. Now, guiding principles, and you could almost say that core values and guiding principles that they’re a synonym for one another but your guiding principles for me it determines who are you going to be and how are you going to show up?
And here’s the simplest way to differentiate between a core value and a guiding principle. This is just one frame, of course, that works for me and hopefully, it will work for you. For me, core values you can define in a word or two. Okay. So, here’s a handful. Just thinking of my head going alphabetically like what’s a core value that starts with A? How about B? How about C? So, here are examples of core values: authenticity, balance, compassion, contribution, curiosity, discipline, freedom, fun, God, growth, happiness, honesty, integrity, inner peace, leadership, learning, love, loyalty, optimism, religion, responsibility, respect, self-love, service, wealth. I could go on and on. These are examples of core values. Now for me, here’s the thing. I’m very affected by language and I think most of us are. The way something is worded is very important. Different language resonates with different people in different ways. That’s why some people read a book and they’re like, “Oh my God, I love this book. This author spoke to me.” And then other people read the same exact book and they’re like, “Yeah, kind of fell flat for me like I didn’t like the voice that it was written in.” Language is very, very important.
And here’s the problem with core values for me is authenticity, core value, well, what exactly does that mean to me? How am I going to live in alignment with authenticity? And the way that I word that in my mind or in my journal and writing my affirmations, whatever, might not resonate with the way that you would word it. So, for me, a core value is that the essence, that honesty. Great. How do you execute on that value? That is the guiding principle. So, a core value is a personal value that guides you in making important decisions and a guiding principle is a guide as to how you will execute that value, how you will live that value. So, I’ll give you some examples from my own life. So, I gave you a couple. I’ll just remind you, faith. Faith is one of my values and not faith in the way that you might think. I’m not talking about a lot of people refer to their religion as faith. That’s not the faith I’m speaking of. A great example of why a guiding principle is very important to expand on a core value because if the core value is faith, that could mean something completely different to you than it means to me than it means to somebody else.
So, then let’s get specific and turn that value into a guiding principle or rather a statement that gives you instruction on how you’re going to live that value. So, for me, I will maintain unwavering faith that I can overcome or accomplish anything that I am committed to. So, that for me is the guiding principle and it’s very specific now of how I’m viewing faith. It’s the faith in myself, as well as the higher power. I don’t get specific in that regard. For me, it’s just the faith. And for me, my faith, it’s a spiritual faith where it’s very all-encompassing. I have faith in myself, faith in God, faith in the universe, faith in the people in my life that will support me. So, faith, there’s a broad faith but the overall is I have unwavering faith that I can overcome or accomplish anything that I am committed to. And so, for me that when you commit to something, I find that that forces in the universe, people, places, things, energies that you can’t predict, come to your aid to help you in making that thing that you’re trying to overcome or accomplish come to fruition. That’s been my experience. And so, that’s where I draw that faith from.
The other one was acceptance. Another example, the core value is acceptance. The guiding principle is I accept all things that are out of my control, no matter what. There’s no other option. I accept all things that are out of my control. And then I’ve expanded on that to say I accept life before it happens meaning no matter what happens in my life in the future, once it happens, and it’s now unchangeable because if it happened, you can’t go back in time and change it whether it was five minutes ago or five years ago, it is as it is. So, I’ve decided I will be completely at peace. I will accept and be at peace with life exactly as it is, no matter what. And because of that guiding principle that I made 20 years ago, both of those I made 20 years ago and I’ve lived them for 20 years, when adversity comes my way, the decision of how I’m going to interpret that adversity, how I’m going to respond is already made. Another one of my values or guiding principles is that every adversity is an opportunity for me to learn, grow, and become better than I’ve ever been before. Every adversity is an opportunity for me to learn, grow, and become better than I’ve ever been before.
So, you’ll see, well, that I just saw the scene I think I mentioned this before but in the Miracle Morning Movie, there’s this scene where I’m at my lowest point. I have cancer. I’ve been on pain management for 10 days. I’m bawling. I am in so much pain. They’ve been trying to manage my pain for 10 days like it was the most painful, physically painful time in my life, and it just went on for 10 days. It didn’t get better and they gave me more like nothing. They tried every painkiller. Nothing worked. They just had to keep the pain as bearable as possible for me and it was a thin line between bearable and unbearable. But here’s the point, you’ll see this scene in the movie where I’m bawling but the words that are coming out of my mouth are in line with my core values. And I say something along the lines of this doesn’t change that I’m grateful for the pain I’m experiencing right now because I truly believe that every experience, every adversity is an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to make us stronger and better than we’ve ever been before. If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. That could be a core value, a guiding principle if you will.
So, the point is even in the midst of like pain or like I’m not thinking straight and we had to cut that scene up a lot because like I’m rambling a lot because I’m in so much pain and I’m on medication and I can’t think straight but even in that, that core value, that guiding principle, it’s that one decision that was made so long ago, the other ones are made for you. When you make these decisions to identify, articulate, review, program, live by your core values and guiding principles, life becomes easier. The hard decisions are already made for you, the important decisions, you make them in advance because you start simply living in alignment with your values and guiding principles. I’ll give you a few more examples and then I’ll dive into giving you some just kind of simple instructions on how to identify these in your own life. So, another one of my major guiding principles is do the right thing, not the easy thing. Now, by the way, the core value there is really integrity. That’s how I define integrity as doing the right thing, not the easy thing. So, the value is integrity but the guiding principle is to do the right thing, not the easy thing.
Now, I would say that typically my core value or values are usually the language is incorporated into the value itself. Meaning like with faith or unwavering faith, it’s I will maintain unwavering faith, no matter what, da, da, da. I will accept all things I can’t change. So, the value of acceptance, the word is usually embedded into the language of the core value. But this is an example of it doesn’t have to be because the value is integrity but the guiding principle is do the right thing, not the easy thing. Now, here’s the power of that. Every food choice that I make, I already decided in advance. To the best of my knowledge, the right thing when it comes to what food I’m going to eat is, to the best of my knowledge, any food I eat that adds value to my health and to my energy levels. That’s how I decide what I’m going to eat. And here’s a little bonus tip on that is I would encourage you to consider most of us value the taste of our food at the top like that’s how we decide what to eat. You go to the restaurant, “Ooh, what sounds good? What looks good? Oh yeah, I’m going to eat that.” I made a decision a long time ago. So, this is a specific guiding principle for food is I will value the consequences of the foods I eat above the taste of the foods I eat. I’ll say that again. A guiding principle for me, specifically the foods, I will value the consequences of the foods I eat above the taste.
So, that stemmed from do the right thing, not the easy thing. When the alarm goes off in the morning and I’m faced with the choice to do the right thing or the easy thing, the right thing is what I committed to do, which was get out of bed and do my Miracle Morning. The easy thing is I feel lazy. I want to keep sleeping. Now, none of this is black and white, by the way. I want to be really clear like I believe that we can live our lives in a lot of ways in the gray meaning if I wake up in the morning and the alarm goes off and I know that I didn’t sleep well last night, I woke up three times and I got to bed later than usual or I just didn’t sleep well then I might make a game-time decision where in this case, the right thing is actually to sleep for another hour. Because I can feel intuitively and physically my body needs extra rest. I can feel that. So, the right thing, I’m making a game-time decision, I’m going to sleep an extra hour but more often than not, the right thing for me is whatever I have identified as adds value to my life and to my other values. It supports all of my values. So, values like selflessness and contribution and love and compassion, the right thing, and health and freedom.
The right thing is what’s in alignment with all of my other values, what I’ve committed to live in alignment with. But the easy thing is usually whatever is not in alignment with my values. That’s how I define it. But same thing with food. I don’t believe in being perfect like I don’t think you can’t ever indulge. So, when it comes to do the right thing is, yeah, put food in my body that’s going to fuel my body with the consequences of what I’m eating at the top of my priority list when deciding what to eat. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t have ice cream or we had pizza the other night. Like I don’t eat pizza every day but it was my son’s birthday. He wanted pizza so I had pizza but I’ve gotten my diet pretty dang impeccable because of those two principles, do the right thing, not the easy thing and I will value the consequences of the foods I eat above the taste. Another guiding principle that for me I identified when I read the book, Love Is The Killer App by Tim Sanders, is selflessly add value to the lives of others. Selflessly add value to the lives of others. This is a guiding principle that if somebody asked me for help, even if I don’t feel like helping them or I don’t have energy, that guiding principle of selflessly, that’s why the word selflessly is in there because I want to be of service to others from a place of pure service. Not a place of I’ll only serve you if it serves me.
I’m looking at, “Well, what’s in it for me? No. That to me, I just made a decision a long time ago. I don’t want to live in alignment with a value where I will help other people selfishly because of what I can get from them. I thought that to me is not really a place of service or a place of contribution. So, how does this show up? It shows up all over the place. There’s that story I’ve told for many years of a friend of mine that called and he was in a really dark, depressed place and I was tired of talking to him to be totally transparent because he was so in such a negative place and no matter what advice I gave him, it didn’t matter. Nothing worked. And then it was literally the day I identified this value, this guiding principle of selflessly adding value for others that he called me. I picked up the phone. I go, “No, not talking to him. I don’t want to be dragged down right now by his negativity.” And then immediately that guiding principle, selflessly add value to the lives of others. I went, “Oh, wait a minute. He’s calling because he wants to talk to me.” So, the selfless thing to do right now would be to pick up the phone and see if I can serve him and add value in any way. I picked up the phone. We had a 20-minute call, 30-minute call, and a few years later, he told me that he was suicidal when he made that phone call, which he didn’t tell me that day.
But a few years later, he told me that when he called, that call saved his life, and that really, he said that he was literally thinking of committing suicide. He was like there. I was one of his last hopes and that conversation that we had, he decided there was hope for his life and he wasn’t going to end it and that really solidified for me that purpose and that principle of selflessly adding value for other people. It shows up in my family like I don’t want to do the dishes but I know my wife, it would add value to her life or I don’t want to do something with my kids because I’m tired or it’s boring or whatever. But that selflessly adding value for others is a guiding principle that I live my life by as much as I possibly can.
And then the last one, I’m just going to close. I just wrote down a handful of these core values and guiding principles that have been really helpful for me and I wanted to share with you not only as examples but some of these, you might go, “Oh, I want to adopt that into my values or into my guiding principles.” A big one is love everyone unconditionally. Love everyone unconditionally. And I feel my own opinion that this is really important right now. It’s important always but when I say it’s important right now, it goes back to what my relative and I were talking about which was how she was saying she sees so much negativity on social media and on the news, of course. But in terms of loving everyone unconditionally, this for me is the mindset, the perspective, I should say, that has enabled me to do that. And I asked myself the question, had I lived their life, is there not a very likely possibility that I would be, do, say exactly the same as they, that I’d be exactly the same as they are? If I had lived their life, isn’t it almost a foregone conclusion that I’d be exactly the same? If I had their parents and their brain, then I would potentially be exactly the same.
And that has allowed me to even look at people that are hateful, that are mean, that criminals, murderers, like it doesn’t matter. For me, I’ve just made a conscious decision to love all people unconditionally. And the best personal example I could give you is the drunk driver that hit me. When I was 20, I was hit by a drunk driver and you guys know the story. You’re probably tired of hearing it but when I went and met the drunk driver in court, I had brain damage, very fresh, I could barely talk. I couldn’t walk and I was wheeled in there and such but I had already forgiven him like I forgave him the moment that I found out what happened. I’m like, “Oh, he hit me? Okay, well.” Because I had decided on this guiding principle of loving all people unconditionally before that. And so, for me, there was no hate. There was no contempt. There were no negative feelings toward him at all. To me, he drank alcohol and then he got in his car and he drove. Why would I hate a person for doing that? In fact, in my younger years, I did that. I’ve done that. You ever done that? You were drinking alcohol and know you probably shouldn’t drive? Maybe your decision making wasn’t great and you did drive? Why would I hate another person for doing something that I had even done? But even if I haven’t done it, to me again, when you decide what your values are, and for me, one of them is unconditional love of all things, myself, life, and definitely people, definitely every other person on the planet, loving them unconditionally. When you decide that, every other decision is made for you.
When I see someone on Facebook, and by the way, but when I see someone on Facebook, I’ll close that thought, and they say something mean, hateful, whatever, I don’t mirror that. I don’t hate them. I love them. The energy I have toward them is compassion and genuine. I’ll even say a quick prayer like I really pray, I hope that person finds peace within themselves. I hope that person is able to transcend the fear that’s causing them to react so aggressively toward people that differ from them. And that’s what deciding on your core values and your principles, your guiding principles ahead of time. You already decided how you’re going to show up. My relative already decided that, “Hey, this person’s hateful. I’m not going to mirror that back because those aren’t my values. Those aren’t my guiding principles. That’s not who I am.” And so, I believe that one of the most important decisions that you can ever make, and again, it’s kind of a set of decisions. What are your core values? What are your guiding principles? And by the way, you don’t have to decide them all in one sitting like this can be an ongoing evolution. For me, it has been.
It’s been 20 years of adopting new values and principles. But those that I had 20 years ago that served me, they still serve me like they haven’t changed. They haven’t changed. They may have evolved. In fact, my original value was to add value to the lives of others and then when I started to notice myself doing it selfishly like I would only do it if it served me too or if I was in the mood or if I felt like it, I didn’t like that. I thought, “No, I want to add value for the purpose of adding value, for the purpose of helping a person whether or not it’s convenient for me, whether or not I’m in the mood, whether or not I feel like it.” I want my life to be about serving others because I just decided and there was a selfish part that I’m like that feels good to me like I feel enriched. When I serve another person and I make their life better, actually, I feel better. So, even though it’s selfless, it is actually selfish too because I like it. I enjoy it. I feel good when I am a force for good in the world.
So, here you go. Let’s get into some actions for you. Hopefully, I gave you enough different examples and perspectives and ideas and things that, hopefully, I got the wheels turning for you. How do you identify your personal core values and guiding principles? Number one, you schedule time for it, right? So, schedule time and you can start with just like 10 minutes. Do it right now. Schedule 10 minutes. And here’s what I would do. I would create two lists. You could draw one piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, you could pull out your phone and make two lists, whatever you want to do. It could be on the same sheet, whatever floats your boat, whatever works for you, two lists though. One for core values and one for guiding principles. Now, it does kind of work nice if you draw a line down the middle and you do it on a piece of paper and you write down a list of core values along the left side. So, you write down a list of core values. Again, authenticity, balance, compassion, contribution, curiosity, discipline, freedom, fun, God, growth, happiness, honesty, integrity, inner peace and harmony, leadership, learning, love, loyalty, optimism, religion, responsibility, respect, self-love, service, wealth. That’s just a handful. Those are 25 that I just randomly wrote down as I was prepping for the podcast today. But you can go beyond. Again, go beyond me like google core values, examples of core values, how to identify core values. I’m going to give you my thoughts and just kind of simple action steps to go beyond this.
So, number one, make a list of your core values. That’s the first step. And number two is to create guiding principles from each of those core values. So, this is a quality over quantity exercise. Let me say that, okay, if you write down 25 core values, well, now you got to write 25 guiding principles and that might be so overwhelming, you might not even do it. I’d encourage you to start with like, what are your top three or top five? And you could start out by writing 25, or 50, or 30, or 20, whatever. You could write a bunch and then look through the list and go, “Okay, if I had to pick three to five, if I had to, what would they be? What would they be? And again, remember, this is all a rough draft. You’re not writing the 10 commandments that are going to be in stone forever. This is just your rough draft. These are your core values today. Tomorrow, you might wake up and think of something different, something to add, something to edit, something to modify, something to delete, whatever. These are your core values and guiding principles today. And this is a rough draft and I encourage you to write out the core values again in a word. And then once you’ve got that list, narrow it down.
So, step one is write out your core values. Step two is narrow it down to your top three to five. And you might say for step one, it’s brainstorm your core values. So, you’d have to try to think of what are the perfect ones. Just write down anything you think of that you feel is important, that you want to embody. I want to embody unconditional love. I want to embody – and you can’t have a qualifying word, by the way. You don’t have to write one word. Instead of faith, you could write unwavering faith. Instead of love, you could write unconditional love. Instead of discipline, you could write self-discipline. So, I mean, don’t feel like you’re in this rigid box. This is a very fluid exercise. There’s no wrong or right way to do it but write out your core values. Write out a list. That’s number one. Number two, identify the top three to five. And again, you could just identify the top one or the top 10. I’m just giving you some direction here but I’m not trying to hold you in a box. And then number three, write out an accompanying guiding principle as to how you will live each of your core values. So, write out an accompanying guiding principle for how you will live each of your core values. Remember, for integrity, my core value is integrity and my guiding principle is to do the right thing, not the easy thing.
And for me, that language works. I learned that do the right thing, not the easy thing from a mentor when I was 19 and I’ve repeated that in my head thousands upon thousands of times for 20 years so that for me really works. That language might not resonate for you. So, you’ve got to create the guiding principles that really resonate for you. And again, remember the rough draft, you can update these, you can edit these. So, another example is for me, the core value is unwavering faith. The guiding principle is I will maintain unwavering faith that I can overcome and/or accomplish anything that I am committed to no matter what. There is no other option. It’s kind of long and then with unconditional acceptance, I accept all things that are out of my control, past, present, and future no matter what. So, that’s another example. And again, I’ve said that a few different ways right now. I’m going off the top of my head and that just shows it doesn’t have to be exact. And when you’ve lived it so long, you can look at it from different angles because it’s become part of you. It’s become part of me. Those values, they become part of me. So, the guiding principle might change according to the situation. You might modify it based on a situation that’s happening now or if you’re worried about it in the future there might be a modification to the language that you use for your guiding principle.
So, again, step one, identify your core values, just a long list of the words or the words with a qualifier like love or unconditional love, faith or unwavering faith, acceptance or unconditional acceptance, optimism or eternal optimism, responsibility or total responsibility. So, a list of core values one to two words. And then once you do that, identify the most important, step two. And then step three is create guiding principles for how you’re going to live each of those core values. And I believe that if you take the time to do this, that this is arguably one of the most important decisions. The decision to create/establish your core values and guiding principles is arguably the one decision that makes all the other decisions for you. According to the book, The ONE Thing, it’s the one thing you can do that such by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary.
Hal Elrod: Oh, I got to drink some water. I love you, guys and gals. Thank you for listening today. I hope this was valuable for you. Miracle Morning Movie is complete. Mark your calendar. It is coming out on 12-12-2020. It is going to be the global worldwide premiere. Tickets are not on sale yet. We’re working on, we got a lot of work to do behind the scenes to figure all this out. It’s been a big project, one of the biggest in my life but I have unwavering faith that that film is going to transform millions upon millions upon millions of lives. And it shows how many of the Miracle Morning, many of you, the members of our community have transformed their lives one person at a time one morning at a time. So, thank you for being a member of the Miracle Morning Community. Remember that the mission of the community and, of course, you can opt-in or out. I’m not forcing this on you but our mission is to elevate the consciousness of humanity one person and one morning at a time.
And the way that we do that, as I see it, is as each of us wake, we each wake up every day and dedicate time to our personal development, to elevating our own consciousness as we learn and grow and evolve and become more aware of the world and how the way we show up in the world and the way we live in alignment with our values and our guiding principles, impacts the people around us. Every life that we touch and the planet and the world and humanity as we individually elevate our own consciousness, the consciousness of humanity is elevated right alongside us. So, I am grateful for you. I’m truly grateful. I’m grateful to be on this mission with you. If you opted in, if you opted out, that’s okay. If you’re on the fence still, that’s okay too. But I love you. I truly love you. I appreciate you. And I look forward to the next time we get to connect. I will see you next week. Take care, everybody.
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