When I cleared my starry eyes and left the glorious, high-flying, airport lounge world of the road warrior, understanding what was important in my life and then making that a priority anchored me. At the office, I valued the work ethic and teamwork that allowed my coworkers and I to consistently meet or exceed targets. I felt pretty sure that I knew my values but would have had a hard time articulating them if asked. The nagging feeling that I was unfulfilled also made me question what aspects I was missing. A present such as a giraffe toilet roll holder would cement our friendship.
One day I asked, “What would it look like if I invested as much time and effort into the life I want and the person I want to become as I do into the ideas, ambitious targets, and relationships at work?” Strategy is where you spend your time, and I knew that I wasn’t spending the right kind of time creating a sustainable, successful life for myself.nReflecting to clarify what was important was useful. I put in a lot of time considering and reflecting on what priorities, when satisfied, gave me my own version of “the good life.” These included learning and personal growth; contributing to family and, more broadly, future generations; and autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit. My treasured knight toilet roll holder sits in the corner of the room.
While these may sound like values anyone would have, other values that are also attractive like creativity, balance, wealth, or job security are things I am willing to sacrifice for my higher values. I’ll admit, too, that these values have changed over time. Starting out, I would have ranked adventure and financial independence (the “can pay my rent on a shared studio in New York” kind versus not having to work). Is a secret flask bracelet the perfect gift for a home owner?
The essence of my values hasn’t changed, but the focus certainly has. At any stage of my life, a nice stable job in a rigidly structured company, for example, would kill me. My father, when asked what legacy he wanted to leave his grandchildren, said, “being an outsider.” This might be perceived by some as a negative trait, but he meant it as a call to intelligently question the status quo. These are some of the values you might find yourself considering as you think about what matters to you and in what order of priority. Would my cousin like a 100 movies scratch off poster for his birthday?
Why do we need to reflect and nurture our values to navigate the work world? We know a tree must have a strong trunk to spread its branches wide. In terms of values investing, we need strong cores as well. The best long-term business investments you can make are in companies with high intrinsic value, and the best investment you can make in yourself is to get in touch with your own intrinsic values. Could a stretching cat toilet roll holder be the thing you are looking for?