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I asked my six year old this question and she said things like, “use manners,” “help my friends,” “clean up my room.” As a dad, those answers made me very happy. As common as this question might be for us to ask our kids, it’s not a question we ask ourselves or other adults; however, it may be one of the most important questions you could ask and answer to give you clarity and focus. Answering this question gives clarity to…

  • How you will respond in times of crisis
  • How to spend your time
  • What decisions must be made
  • How to approach everyday interactions
  • How you’ll raise your kids and many other behaviors.

The answer gives a script to your life. When you take dance lessons, there are those mats on the floor that show where to put your feet and in what order. If the mat is not there, you’re bound to forget or get confused by everything you have to think about. Clearly answering the question, “How do I behave?” may not give you the order, but it definitely provides the steps that you can return to again and again.
To start this process for yourself, begin with another question… “What is MOST important to me in my life?” This goes to your very core and the answer is comprised of those things that are non-negotiable in your life.
For my life, the answer includes…

  • My family
  • My relationship with God
  • I thrive when I’m in community and partnership with others
  • Helping people
  • Enjoying life

These are things that pass the “go to jail” test. The “go to jail test” is a decision to spend a night in jail rather than violate one of these. While this wouldn’t occur in reality, it helps to get to the heart of what really is important and gets the list to the essential few.

You can skip right to behaviors from here, but I like to state the themes or values that embody these MOST important things. This is an opportunity to be creative and assign a memorable word or phrase.

The values that represent my most important things are…

  • “It’s not about me”
  • “Be and stay connected”
  • “Have fun or die”

The last step is to state the actual core behaviors that support these values. Here is a sample of the core behaviors that align to my values.

  • Start each task by saying, “it’s not about me” and then asking “who is this about?”
  • Deliver as much value as I can to each interaction I have
  • Choose projects and tasks where I can partner or collaborate with others
  • Rearrange my schedule to only do things I really enjoy or can genuinely smile while doing
  • Make a game out of mundane tasks that don’t allow for collaboration or that I don’t inherently enjoy

To help you start this process for yourself, here’s a free values selection tool where you will identify the 10 values that are most important to you. The next step is to name the themes and behaviors.

In the last blog, you answered, “Why do I exist?” and you’ve now added “How do I behave?” These are two of the six critical questions for clarity in life, work and leadership.

What clarity do you have after answering these two questions?

How does clarity make a difference in how you live and lead?

Jeff Harmon

Jeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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