YOU define value

Chocolate Dessert. This image is CC0!

All of us have things in life that are important to us. Sometimes we agree with others about these things, but in most cases, there are at least slight differences. Others may tell you what is important in life. However, they will always see it from their own point of view. They are not standing in your shoes. You may tell others what is valuable. And it will be from your perspective. This is nothing bad. Imagine a world in which everybody has exactly the same values. Life would become boring very quickly. Now, look at the first principle of Lean Self:

You are the one who defines what makes your life valuable.

This principle is not about defining goals for your life. There is a difference between a goal in life and value of life. Goals are milestones, set in the future. Values are the underlying priorities.

For example, you could say things like:

  • “I want to become a medical doctor.”
  • “I want to get married and have children.”
  • “I want to buy a house before I’m forty.”
  • “I want to write a book before I die.”

All of these are worthy goals, but they do not define value of life. Besides, once you have achieved them, you will look out for the next goal. To explain the difference, just assume the first goal is something you want to achieve. Let’s ask a simple question: Why? There may be many reasons, like:

  • You want to help other people.
  • You think you will earn a lot of money.
  • You believe that medical doctors are highly respected people.

Once you have identified your own reason, you might ask once more“why do I want that?” (a method also applied in root cause analysis I surely will discuss later). But assume again you stop as after the last answer. This reveals something that is important for you which is not a goal: You want to be respected. So being respected is valuable for you. Give it a second thought. Is this only about your profession? Most probably it is not. Surely you want to be respected always. Besides, having discovered that being respected defines life’s value for you, you might discover that the goal you started with might be OK, but is not the best way to achieve it. Maybe it is better and easier to do something different to gain respect.

Next blog entry will come up with some exercises 🙂

Posted in 5 Principles Tagged with: , , , ,

2 comments on “YOU define value

  1. Delita Wright on said:

    Am reading and using your info. Will write more about that later. Thank you for making cardboard and lean self so freely available. You are writing up things I’ve been learning. Meanwhile, the “look at this” link is broken. Thanks again, Delita

    • Jens R. WoinowskiJens R. Woinowski on said:


      thank you for the kind words.

      I have removed the broken link you discovered.

      I’m looking forward to more comments from you.


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