What Do You Stand For?

By Minji

"Just as companies have core value statements, clearly identifying individual life values can help you live a truly authentic life.  A life that is meaningful and purposeful, not from a third-party standard but from your own unique perspective...Once we name our values and get clear about what we hold important, then we can also start to "walk the talk."  

Last night, I was mesmerized by a documentary about a rock climber who risks his life routinely to conquer the steepest cliffs of the world – this guy climbs only with his hands and feet and without the aid of ropes or other protective equipment. 

It was fascinating, extreme, and gripping – I couldn’t look away.  You know those rare movies that are so good you’re relishing every minute of it, can’t be distracted and almost have lost yourself just being “sucked in” and watching?  It was one of those until something the protagonist said abruptly woke me up. 

When asked why he did it, he said he wanted to do something meaningful and that, "being cozy and happy never helped anyone."  Hearing that, I was suddenly brought back to reality.  I was the epitome of cozy/happy – in my plush pjs, lying in bed, with my husband and Moo curled next to me.     

In that moment, being in awe of his spirit of adventure, my immediate reaction was shame.  I felt slightly embarrassed for my “cozy” life and questioned why I wasn’t on a more daring path.  Maybe not rock climbing, but could I be traveling the world helping orphans … or doing something in Africa to help save the elephants?

Thank god that feeling lasted for just a moment and I was able to come back to my senses.  Even if it’s nothing for him, being cozy and happy is quite meaningful to me.  It links directly to my core values in life and helps keep me on my authentic path to a purposeful life

Most companies have clearly articulated core values.  For example, I can easily go to Patagonia’s website and see that their core values comprise “building the best products, causing no unnecessary harm, using business to protect nature, and not bound by convention.”

Similarly at SeoulofSkin, we’ve set our core values as the 3Is – integrity, inclusion and inspiration.  These core values are the main pillars companies revisit time and time again before making any material decisions to align the brand’s activities to its broader mission and purpose.  Without them, with all the different opportunities or events happening around them, they might easily lose their way and end up scattered and diluted.    

What if we extended this analogy to each of us as individuals – shouldn’t we all have unique core values in life that we set for ourselves and refer back to now and again?  If not, many of us might be tempted to rock climb right now!      

I never thought about individual core values until I attended a mindfulness class on changes and transitions.  There, one of the exercises was to look at a page full of positive values and by process of elimination, identify 3-5 that speak the most to you.  Let me tell you, there are a lot of good stuff we could all be aiming for so, this was not easy.  I had to go through at least five rounds of elimination before I could get mine down to a handful. 

At first, I ended up with family, health, wisdom, altruism and justice.  But then going through life, I realized increased focus was necessary so I further trimmed down to just the three I carry now – family, health and wisdom.

Clearly identifying your values can help you live a truly authentic life.  A life that is meaningful and purposeful, not from a third-party standard but from your own unique perspective.  Brené Brown is also a huge believer in identifying core values to live into and she shares her values list here.  She explains that once we name our values and get really clear about what we believe and hold important, then we can also start to "walk the talk" by taking care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviors align with those beliefs. 

If you haven’t tried already, maybe take a look at the values sheet above and see what jumps out at you.  Will it be risk-taking? Beauty? Or how does patriotism sound?  There’s extra space to come up with your own.

There is no right or wrong since there are so many wonderful life values to stand for, but make sure you put in the effort to narrow down to three at most.  You can keep coming back to them as your fundamental check list for life's most important moments so that you may stay true to your own fabulous story...even when you're utterly dazzled by another's.