I adore the people who really make a difference in the world and like reading their biographies. By reading biographies of some of these greatest leaders on the planet like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Swami Vivekananda, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Steve Jobs and many others; I realized that many of my qualities and habits are similar to those. If you decide to read and reflect on these biographies; you also will discover somewhat similar findings. Then a very obvious question is: why are we not able to make a difference like those leaders?
There must be something which made these people different and we might not have that. Yes, your question is valid. Even, I posed the same question to myself and many other learned people, spent few hundred hours in reading and reflecting on lives of great people. I found an answer which satisfies me; and hope you also will agree on that: They had strong & clear beliefs which guided them in all their decisions and priorities. People whose names I just mentioned and others to whom we consider greats; all had or have few deep beliefs which are clearly defined and are core to their character. Their actions were steered by these beliefs in some particular direction. We call these beliefs as values and we call that direction as purpose. Knowing & believing in their values and purpose made all the difference. For better understanding let me rephrase, ‘Values are the deepest beliefs & sentiments we subscribe to’. Values are actually a GPS for our life – when we wander off the path or lose direction, they bring us back on track. Emphasizing on the importance of values, Einstein once said, ‘I would rather be a man of value than success.’ Values give energy to our actions. If we talk about Mahatma Gandhi- the driving values were Truth & Non-Violence. If we talk about Abraham Lincoln – the values were Fairness & Perseverance. If we talk about Mother Teresa –these driving values were Love & Service. For Nelson Mandela it is – ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’. He wants to see peace in every home and works for this. That was the reason the selection committee of Bharat Ratna went out of the way and honored a non-Indian with nation’s highest civilian award in the year 1990. If we talk about Steve Jobs, there was just one driving value and that was- Excellence. He sought excellence in whatever he did. And he had a purpose which he recited very often, ‘I want to make a dent in the universe.’ That was the reason he could compete and win with giant companies in computers – Microsoft & IBM. That was the reason he could compete and win with #1 animation movies company Disney. That was the reason he could compete and win with # 1 music device company Sony and could do the same to #1 mobile phone company Nokia. His baby, Apple Inc has also been ranked #1 in ‘Fortune 500 list of World’s most admired companies’ this year. Values & Purpose really made all the difference. These leaders changed everything but their values. These leaders did everything but something which distracted them even an inch from the purpose. They did whole lot of things in varying environment and circumstances but never deviated from their values & purpose.
Values are priorities that tell us how to spend our time, right here, right now. Hence, the main benefit of knowing our values is that we gain tremendous clarity and focus which helps us to make best out of our time and make impact. We must use that newfound clarity to make consistent decisions and take committed action towards achieving a big goal. This big goal is also called a cause which is bigger than life or a purpose. So the whole point of discovering our values is to improve the results we get in the areas that are truly most important to us.
Thus having a strong & clear value system and defining a purpose for our life will help us in living a successful & respectful life. On the other hand, one will end up living a mediocre & dissatisfied life in absence of clear value system and a well defined purpose.
If we want to make an enduring and substantial positive impact on the world;
We should reflect and work towards getting clarity on our values and defining a purpose. This will make our life stimulating, exciting and adventures.
Moreover, ‘it’s our duty to strive for excellence, it is its own reward’, said Mahatma Gandhi. Knowing our values and purpose will definitely help us fulfilling this duty by aligning what we do with what we believe in.’