One of the most interesting traits of any person is the value system by which he or she lives. I wonder how many of us ever take the time to sit down and really think through the moral precepts that consciously or unconsciously guide our lives.
I stumbled across this personal creed of “Daily Dozen Values” by writer Robert Louis Stevenson (“Treasure Island”) many years ago, and I’ve always wanted to write about it because it is as true today as it was in 1875 or so when he wrote it.
What a terrific list! Can you imagine what the world would look like if we all followed such a code?
While I agree with all of Stevenson’s thoughts, I suspect we could all add a thing or two to fit our own needs. And I would encourage you to take some time to do just that in the near future. See if doing so doesn’t help you define your goals and dreams.
What is really important to you? How do you want to conduct your life? What are you willing to do – or not do – in order to have the life you want? Is there a line you will not cross?
It is reasonable to expect that most adults would do their best to do the right thing. And that has taken on a new importance in the world we live in, where our words and deeds are often subject to cameras and shared online for the world to see. But having an established value system goes beyond that – it takes the guesswork out. Because you have already thought about how you want to live, and be perceived, your responses and reactions can often be automatic. You won’t even have to think about your actions.
A remarkable book by retired Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine might provide the inspiration you need to organize your thoughts. In “The Way of the SEAL,” Divine recalls his own experience defining his purpose at Officer Candidate School.
His own SEAL commander asked him what he stood for. His answer, “justice, integrity and leadership,” was not enough for the commander, who pushed on: “What are your rock-bottom beliefs, that stand beyond which you won’t be pushed?”
After some reflection, Divine wrote his personal stand:
So there you have it: two shining examples of personal values that – even though separated by more than 100 years – still ring true. I challenge you to take some time, and take a stand.
Mackay’s Moral: If you live by a great value system, your life will have great value.
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