Perfect Alignment

There are numerous obstacles that we encounter along the trail of life. Many are of our own making and some are not. What can we do to smooth out the path and avoid the monsters that jump out of the bushes to bite us? One answer involves a concept that I’ve only recently begun to understand at a deeper level and come to embrace. The concept is that of core values.

In the past I probably would have quit reading by this point and moved on to something that seemed more tangible to me at the time. After all “core values” sounds a bit esoteric and maybe even a bit “psycho-babblish” – not something a macho entrepreneur would be interested in. But after studying and witnessing the effects of core values, I’ve become a believer.

More than a year ago our collection of companies made a conscious decision to change our culture. A Core Values Team was formed and the group did amazing work. They spent countless hours brainstorming and debating the basic values they thought we should epitomize. The result was five core values including Integrity, Commitment, Team Member Fulfillment, Customer Fulfillment and Community Impact. A second team was formed called Building Internal Communities, and worked in tandem with the Core Values Team to roll out the core values to team members across all the companies with locations scattered across the country. Tremendous effort has been undertaken to keep the core values at the forefront and live them accordingly. And it seems to be working in an impressive fashion.

Here’s where it gets interesting. We determined early on that we wanted to make certain that everyone on the team was in perfect alignment with the core values; AND everyone with whom we work outside the organization is also aligned with these beliefs as well. It has become obvious over the past several months that some of our team members don’t completely buy into the core values and they have left (or in some cases, were asked to leave). But what’s even more fascinating is the fact that we can see very clearly that certain vendor and client relationships aren’t necessarily aligned either. In the past we’ve butted heads with these relationships or felt like we weren’t on the same page with them. Through understanding our core values we now have a means of assessing our external relationships to see how well we are in alignment.

The upshot of this process is that we are severing some of the ties that we have with external parties. Harkening back to my opening salvo – why live with the obstacles that stand in our way? This doesn’t mean that the external parties with whom we have been struggling are bad or dishonest. It simply means that we may not share the same values which can cause friction and anxiety. This can be eliminated by building relationships with those external parties where we are in perfect alignment. Gone are the hard feelings and the unrealistic expectations. No longer do we waste time hashing and re-hashing unpleasant interactions with other parties.

Establishing a strong set of core values helps team members become aligned. But of equal importance, working with external parties that share the same values helps make our lives richer and happier.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

flock of migrating canada geese birds

Quiet

Question: I find that when I go to bed at night I have a hundred thoughts running through my head. Sometimes it’s hard to get to sleep. I know that I’m a busy person but is this normal?

Answer: Busy people – especially entrepreneurs – process a lot of information on a continual basis. According to a variety of sources, the average brain has 70,000 thoughts a day. I’m not sure how this was measured but it’s clear that there’s a lot floating around in our brains. So it’s not hard to see how we can become overwhelmed by mind-clutter. We need to find a way to somehow turn it all off.

There is a way. The concept involves spending a few minutes each day in quiet contemplation. Some call this meditation. But it need not be construed as having religious overtones. Instead, consider meditation as a time to block out the hustle and bustle of the world around us and sharpen the focus of our mind. I find that there are times when my emotional state is not in sync with my mental state. I use meditation to align my heart and my head.

I used to schedule this time of quiet right after I got out of bed each day. But I found that I would become too relaxed and fall asleep. What works best for me is to complete my morning exercise routine and then spend seven to ten minutes in solitude.

Here’s the process I use. I sit in a chair with my feet flat on the floor, close my eyes and put my hands in my lap. I concentrate on my breathing, slowly bringing the breaths from diaphragm. Then I visualize the Horizontal Situation Indicator that is an instrument on the control panel of an aircraft. The HSI displays a bifurcated vertical bar with an arrow on top. When flying an instrument approach, the pilot attempts to fly so that the vertical bar and the arrow become one. For me, this is the way I see my head and my heart becoming aligned. Finally, I clear away the constant stream of thoughts in my mind and create a void. When one or more thoughts creep into my consciousness, I gently push them out to once again create a void.

By calming our minds and pushing out all thoughts, we become open and receptive to the powerful flow of positive and creative energy that comes rushing into the void. And we can see the successful results through new ideas and solutions to problems we are working that present themselves throughout the day.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

HSI