This week, I'm reflecting a bit on goals, and I'll try to say some new things. Typically, we select new goals as a result of our desires and our values. Most of us have more desires than we ought to pursue. Our values help select which should be transformed into goals.
A goal is a guide to action. A value is a guide to action. So, then, what's the difference?
I've written that a goal is a commitment of the will. But then so is a value. A value is a commitment of the will. So, then, what's the difference?
On the simplest level, a goal is a specific commitment and a value is a general one.
But we can say more. A goal is a specific commitment to bring something about - to create or contribute to a certain result in the realm of fact. A value is a general commitment to honor, respect, protect, embody, or enact a quality or concern.
Some people confuse goals and values. They say, "Our goal this year is outstanding customer service." But that's too vague to be a goal. It isn't specific enough as to what fact will be created and how it will be measured or recognized. Outstanding Customer Service isn't a good or proper goal. But it's a great value. It's a fantastic general commitment that can suggest specific goals that are easily measurable and recognizable.
Values generate goals. But here's the equally important news. Values generate other values. For any value that suggests a new goal, there are often other values that lie behind it. And it's just as important to have the right values behind your choices and actions as it is to have the right goals.
Let me explain. If your commitment in the new year is outstanding customer service, if that's a driving value for you, then you should ask yourself why. Why do I value outstanding customer service?
Maybe, on reflection, you will come to realize that you want to be well known, or even famous for pleasing your customers. You want the praise and the reputation that will result. You also may value the financial benefits that often accrue to people who deliver great customer service. These are all common answers. And there's nothing wrong with wanting these things. People can properly value praise, reputation, and wealth. But they aren't the best ultimate values to drive the more immediate value of outstanding customer service.
Here's the contrast. There are other individuals who ask "Why?" about the value of outstanding customer service, and end up with the answer, "Because I really care about other people, and they always deserve the best I can give." That answer expresses the values of altruism and personal excellence. Those are the greatest drivers of more immediate values. Those are the answers that will help you to set, pursue, and stay consistent with the best and most worthy goals. Ironically, they'll also give you a better reputation, and often more wealth, than the guy just chasing reputation and wealth.
The commitments behind our commitments matter. They are where we get our ultimate strength. If you can get your inner house in order, at the deepest levels, you can fly the highest and do the best over the longest time frame. And that's the power of values.