I learned this lesson the hard way, and it has taken me as many years to recover from the devastating results, as it took me to create the problem.
When I began my professional sales career, forty-one years ago this past June, I had little comprehension of the relationship between personal values and achievement goals. I naively believed that as long as my activities were legal, honest and moral, they were fair game for achieving my goals. I truly believed success would be achieved through working tirelessly and consistently in pursuit of my sales objectives. This mode of thinking isn’t wrong, but it isn’t complete. After years of chasing my dreams and goals, I finally gained the perspective that was missing in my life. I wish with all my heart I would have discovered it sooner, but I’m thankful I discovered it.
My great discovery centers on this one absolute truth: “True success can only be achieved when your personal values and your day-to-day activities, while in pursuit of your goals, are in harmony with each other”. Your values and your goals must “speak the same language.” When the two are going in divergent directions, neither one will achieve its full measure of success. You will either sacrifice one at the expense of the other, or you will achieve one and neglect the other. There is only one way to achieve the integrity of your personal values, while at the same time, reaching the pinnacle of success. Finding absolute harmony between your values and goals is the only path.
That harmony will actually create a synergy between your values and goals, concluding in a result far greater than the sum of the individual elements. To put this principle into effect you must first clearly decide what is of most importance in your life. Ask yourself the question, “What do I value most?” and then explain why. Think in terms of how you would spend your life if you knew you only had eight months to live. Now, having determined what you value most and how you would spend your time if you had just a few short months to live, set goals that will be in harmony with those feelings. We have all heard the story of the executive who spent his entire career climbing the proverbial ladder of success only to find that when he finally reached the top rung of the ladder, it was leaning against the wrong wall. He had spent his career in pursuit of those things that ultimately were not of great value to him.
I spent more than seventeen years of my life and career traveling away from home three to four days each week. I earned a great income and never needed to balance my checkbook. There was plenty of money for a fine home, automobiles, vacations, social events and the finer things in life. During that same period of time, three of our four children were born, and guided through childhood by my wife in the absence of their father, who was pursuing wealth and position. I was short of patience with the children when I was home and found it hard to relate to their needs and demands because I was so focused on me. My values were family centered, but my life was career focused. As successful as I was in my sales career, I had derailed the relationship with my wife and children in the process.
I will forever be grateful I finally discovered the truth about goals and values. For the past twenty-four years I have pursued my goals and discovered a totally new level of success. How? By aligning my values and goals in one harmonious day-by-day, consistently focused effort of doing the things that matter most. I have discovered a hidden power that comes through the synergistic result of placing your values and goals on the same horizon. You don’t ever need to sacrifice achievement for values. In fact, your achievements will be infinitely greater when they are aligned with you values. Your values will be magnified when they become synonymous with your goals. The total package of sales success is found where goals, in harmony with personal values, intersect with consistent and effective effort.
If this philosophical perspective helps you put your sales career in balance, please let me know.