Core values receive praise within companies, but people often forget that companies are made of people. It also matters what your values are, and they must align with that of a company or else there will be conflict. You need to understand what core values are and how to go about picking them. 


When you pick the right values, you give yourself a moral and behavioral guide. My dad always told me, "If you stand for nothing, you will fall for everything." Having values you stand by is harder than ever in our culture today, but that's also worth it. 

“There are some values that you should never compromise on to stay true to yourself; you should be brave to stand up for what you truly believe in even if you stand alone.”
― Roy T. Bennett

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Why You Need Core Values 

Core values are fundamental beliefs that a person or organization believes in. Core values are important because they dictate how you want to act. Everyone wants to improve and be successful, but your values draw the line in terms of how you will go about doing that.

Many people say by any means necessary, but does that mean you would be willing to kill someone to get what you want? Hopefully, that would go against some core beliefs that you currently hold.

You pick core beliefs that you believe are required to get you to your destination. When people are not acting under their core beliefs or that of an organization, it means you're hurting your chances of success.

You need values because we all lose sight of what is important and who we are. Your core values help to keep you focused on what matters and how you want to be known.

Everyone wants to improve and be successful, but your core values draw the line in terms of how you will go about doing that.

Examples of Core Values  


  • Reliability 
  • Speed
  • Loyalty
  • Commitment 
  • Open-mindedness
  • Consistency
  • Honesty
  • Efficiency
  • Innovation
  • Humor
  • Compassion
  • Adventure
  • Wisdom
  • Learning
  • Courage
  • Wellness
  • Fitness
  • Passion 
  • Respect


  • Service
  • Eudcation 
  • Tougness
  • Patriotism
  • Evironent
  • Social Justice
  • Equality
  • Spirituality
  • Success
  • Status
  • Wealth
  • Securtity
  • Safety
  • Growth
  • Contribution
  • Competency
  • Autonomy
  • Balance
  • Boldness

Picking The Right Core Values  

When you're choosing values, you need to have focus. It would be best if you decided anywhere from 3-5 core values. If you want 1 core value, it can work against you. For example, if you choose the core value of wealth, customers may not like that you don't seem to care about anything. 

Once you get over five core values, it becomes impossible to enforce. Even with five core values, it can be tough to implement if they are all new. If you're doing this for the first time, start with three core values. Three values are enough to make a significant change but also enough to cover the areas that are important to you. 

Now to narrow down your list, you have to be brutally honest with yourself. The problem with core values is that if you don't choose one, it does not mean that you don't care about it or want that in your organization, it just means you won't focus on it. 

For example, say there is an auto shop that has a core value of honesty. It does not mean that others don't care about it, and they lie. It just means this shop will go out of their way to show and prove they are honest. If they find out an employee has lied, they will fire for that offense. 

Picking Your Core Values 

  1. Write down a list of 20 values that matter to you 
  2. Circle the three values that you want to demand of yourself and others
  3. Take the other 17 and throw them away and don't worry about them again
  4. Put your three values everywhere you can so they serve as a constant reminder

Now to narrow down your list, you have to be brutally honest with yourself. The problem with core values is that if you don't choose one, it does not mean that you don't care about it or want that in your organization, it just means you won't focus on it. 

3 Ways to Ensure You Live Out Your Core Values

Picking your values is easy. It's similar to setting up any goal in life. You can set a goal all day, but making it a reality is a different story. 

1. Let it Decide How You Live. 

The best example if can give for this is the Bible. Christians are supposed to use the Holy Bible as their guide through life. If they are unsure of what to do or where to turn, the Bible has answers for all of life's problems.

Core values work in a similar way to how Christians lean on the Bible. You have to use them as your guiding light when you're unsure. There is a customer you feel like is in the wrong, but you have a core value of serving people. You have to get that core value to dictate the action you take. 

If you don't let your values be your guide, they become simple lip service. It's mere talk, and people will realize that. You can tell when this is true with companies or people. 

2. Find The Right People

If you're a company, you need to find people who already have these values. If you set core values, make sure you only hang around people who share these values.

One of the easiest ways to build a culture is with the people you hang around. The problem is if you have different core values, there is going to be a compromise somewhere. Its a mistake to expect others to change. The best solution is choosing the right people from day 1.

3. Do Culture Audits 

It would be best to have monthly and yearly reviews of how you're doing with your core values. Within a company, each employee should know where they stand to the companies core values. If they are essential, they should be a measuring stick that gets reviewed. 

The more frequently you have these reviews, the more critical that they are. You would never go a year without looking at your bank account because you would not know what is going on with your money. The same is true with your values. If you don't review them, you don't get the opportunity to correct where you may have gone astray.

Core values work in a similar way to how Christians lean on the Bible. You have to use them as your guiding light when you're unsure. There is a customer you feel like is in the wrong, but you have a core value of serving people. You have to get that core value to dictate the action you take. 


Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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