Value Centered Path to Happiness and Success
by Leon Miller
How do you unleash the creativity, talent, and energy within yourself in the midst of a crisis (that is not only current but can seem to be occasional and can occur unpredictably)? Why is it that your efforts to improve your life situations seem to sometimes fall so short of your hopes? Is it realistic to believe that there is a fountain of potential within you that can be tapped to provide a healthier, happier and more successful life? Is the key to realizing these things learning to listen to that still, small voice that speaks to your conscious, learning to trust that guiding force and letting it direct your life endeavors? Some of the most inspirational and successful business consultants and organizational managers claim that the answers to these very important questions is a value centered path to happiness and success. The key to dealing effectively with the challenges that you are facing today is the recognition of a value-centered core within yourself.
A value centered approach to personal and professional success is based on being true to your values or living a life guided by your values. In some ways such ideas are similar to what the greatest philosophers and spiritual leaders of history have taught (especially Christ and Aristotle). Similar to Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy” a valued centered approach to success believes that people operate on one of three levels of development: "Dependence, Independence and Interdependence."1 In other words everyone progresses through life from the stage of first being totally dependent on others. When we reach adulthood we become independent and are able to take care of ourselves. As we continue to mature, we become interdependent which helps us to achieve a richer interpersonal life.
A dependent person does not understand how to maintain behavior based on a focus on core values or the inner self. This means that a dependent person is more externally motivated. A dependent person finds fulfillment in the things that society affirms as worthwhile or valuable. Thus a dependent person measures his or her sense of self and success based on achieving things that are socially endorsed. Such a person is also usually very responsive to external stimulus (such as punishment and rewards). Dependent personalities are usually low on the scale of experiencing and appreciating the more deeply fulfilling aspects of life (they could be called superficial).
An independent person is value centered. This person finds happiness in experiencing more of what he or she values. Such a person is self motivated thus needs little external or authoritarian influence. An independent person tends toward what is called “Visionary Leadership.” Such a personal is psychologically mature and healthy.
However the most enriching or rewarding life experience is reflected in the character and lifestyle of the interdependent person. The interdependent person has found that trusting that inner voice provides a type of freedom. This freedom is lived and expressed not only in a way that is socially responsible but also in a way that contributes to the welfare of society. The interdependent person has a deep respect for others and relates in a way that inspires others! This person certainly has all the traits of a Visionary Leader and what’s more creates synergy in relationships. The interdependent person is able to help others become liberated and helps to bring out the best in others.
To break out of Dependence you must develop the habit of being proactive (this is the Principle of Personal Vision). It begins with self awareness. However, with self awareness you become more sensitive to others and the things around you. You also feel a stronger sense of harmony with others (or respect for all others as equals) and a greater sense of harmony with your surroundings. I always emphasize that with this sense of harmony you have a greater feeling of and experience of existence shaping itself into a reality that you are happy with and find fulfillment in (you are in harmony with existence so that reality seems to be in complete harmony with you).
You never again need to be reactive but can genuinely act from the basis your free will. This means that circumstances and others are not deciding your experience. You are sensitive to reality but you are also able to creatively shape the things reality presents to you into a greater experience of what you value. This is what it means to be proactive. Your inner vision actually allows you to be extremely sensitive to how reality is progressing and act first before conditions box you into a situation. You see how reality is progressing and act in a way that aligns (or harmonizes) the progression of reality with your values. This allows you to face the conditions of reality with faith (courage)-realizing that your inner power has widened your circle of influence and has opened you to a wider circle concern.
"Value Centered Leadership” is the ongoing process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with those most important things." The success you are hoping for begins with and is built upon integrity (maintain a focus on your own inner guiding voice in spite of what life throws at you). Your success in life or business will not be sustainable without tapping into the exceptional quality potential that is rooted in your vision and values? A happy and successful life is built on a character that makes use of available knowledge-shaped into skills-that express the quality of your character (your vision and values). Your character is expressed in terms of a particular skill developed in into a certain discipline (art) that you continuously perfect.
The happier and more successful people in life thus have a strong sense of faith that provides them with inner direction. Such people make decisions based on their personal values, their ethics and on their personal guiding principles. People are happiest when they realize and experience what they believe to be most valuable. Realizing such happiness occurs by creating an alignment between your inner values, your inner vision and the conditions of reality. The happier and more successful people in life are constantly reviewing circumstances and emerging through obstacles with their vision, mission, and organizational goals still in focus. These remain the focus of what guides their actions and interactions, the basis of the choices they make thus, the consequences they experience as result of their actions.
Covey says that value centered people lead balanced lives. In the most general terms this means a balance between maintaining a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a successful professional life and experiencing an enriching spiritual life. But this also means that your endeavors for success must be balanced with a rich personal and interpersonal life. Such people are extremely focused thus they take life seriously and act with a strong sense of dedication. They learn from their failures but past mistakes are not a weight holding them back or holding them down (the past shapes your perspective on life but the past is not a burden to be carried around). At the same time they have a good sense of humor, are able to even laugh at themselves and they are “solution focused rather than problem focused.” They have developed a strong sense of faith that prompts them to view challenges as the motivational factor for shaping knowledge into more effective means for experiencing values.