You can certainly head down the road not really knowing what your values are, but it’s never going to get you anywhere good. For many years, my favorite college football team had an incredible coach. He was revered by fans, players, and coaches across the country. He coached the same team for almost three decades and won countless awards, including a National Championship. He valued hiring great assistant coaches; and while there was no mistaking who was in charge, he was a delegator. When he took over his team as head coach, he could see it would never compete well with a running strategy, so he decided he would find quarterbacks who valued passing the ball. He faced teams that could score twenty or thirty points running the ball, but his team could score forty or fifty by passing. So, they won. Several of his quarterbacks went on to play in the NFL, and more than one took his team to the Super Bowl.
He believed in his coaches, in his players, and in his strategy. On game day, he stood on the sidelines with his arms crossed, completely non-emotional as he calmly kept pace with his team from the sideline. If his team won, his expression was the same as those rare times that they lost.
After this coach retired, a coach came in who didn’t seem to know what he valued. His offensive strategy seemed to change from week to week. He would start a quarterback, pull him out, and then try another quarterback. At times, he let his assistant coaches do their jobs, and other times he would take over—sometimes in the middle of a game. When a game was close, he would run up and down the sideline, waving his arms frantically over what was happening. Players and coaches alike didn’t know what he expected of them; and, as a fan, it was confusing to watch the team during this time. No one seemed to know what he valued, and, as a result, it wasn’t long before he was fired. Since leaving the university, he returned to the ranks of assistant coaches where he has had success, but no one has been willing to offer him a job as the head coach.
The most recent coach of this storied team is almost the exact opposite of the legendary coach. He is much more hands-on, to the point where he has functioned as both head coach and defensive coordinator. He is much more emotional. He is much more involved in the community, and expects his players to be as well. And yet, with all the differences, he is enjoying a winning record that rivals that of the man this school’s football stadium is named after. The first coach and the current coach have succeeded with different values systems, but they each have one. And those values were and are crystal clear to each of the players and each member of the staff.
Whether you are deciding for yourself, your family, or your business, the values you settle on will determine your behavior, which will in turn determine what stories will be told about you. These stories will then serve to guide the behavior of those who follow you.