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Values are a fundamental part of our lives. For better or worse, they shape everything we do, from the words we say to the actions we take.

Your life experience sets the stage for the values that you live out later in life. But are these values helping or hindering you?

In this episode, I discuss the profound importance of your values and how you can live out values that improve your life and the lives of everyone around you.

Show Highlights Include:

  • How values influence the actions you take and how to harness them to improve your life (0:59)
  • Why living without clearly defined values is making you miserable and concrete steps you can take to fix it (2:12)
  • How to take back your life from the value-destroying behemoth of social media (2:24) 
  • Walt Disney’s value-based approach to decision-making and how you can use it to improve your life (15:36)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. So glad to be with you today. I want to talk to you about values and I want to ask this very important question: why are values so vitally important to each and every one of us?

Values, as we know, values are the fundamental beliefs that guide our attitudes, our actions and our behaviors. Our values can actually shape the words that come out of our mouths. Values represent the motive behind the action. I see my values as a motivational construct. They refer to the desirable goals that I strive to attain on a daily basis. These values guide the selection of my actions and my words. These values become the lens even for evaluating the behaviors and actions of others. [01:16.1]

Friends, your value system is your accepted standard of choice. In other words, you choose your value system based on experiences in your life, based on influences in your life, and when followed, I really believe that it is our values that will keep us on the right path. These guiding principles are very important. I believe that they determine our growth. They guide our behaviors. They set the standard for daily living and, really, if you think about our values, they're an expression of our best self. [01:54.7]

Psychologists remind us that living without values really does produce a lackluster life, unsatisfying relationships, a life of secrets and deception, a life of lies, a sense of guilt, probably results in us depending way too much on social media as an outlet, and the list can go on and on.

In fact, researchers argue that without a strong set of values, surrendering to the pool of distractions becomes inevitable as a way to numb emotional pain and avoid problems. We enter this downward spiral when we forsake values and give into destructive choices and that, as I know all too well, can lead to compulsive behaviors in every area of our lives.

Friends, I experienced that when I hit rock bottom years ago and I just gave way to the emotional pain. The next thing I know I'm in a downhill kind of dive and values don't line up with how I feel. In other words, my feelings superseded my values. [03:09.3]

What's the point that I'm trying to make? I made a choice to use my feelings as a default and not my values. It always boils down to a choice that we make. I think it's very important to begin with a guiding principle that helps me to make the right choice every day. I believe that the most important principle on which all values are built is really an important standard that we remind ourselves of every single day.

And, friends, I want to tell you this guides my choices. For me, my most important principle, my most important guiding value is this. I choose every day this standard, to become the man God has called me to be, not to work to be that kind of man, but to become Christ-like. [04:04.2]

I believe that becoming a godly man, for me, is the foundation for everything else built in my life. On that foundation, I can now build integrity and compassion, dependability, gratitude, a strong worth ethic.

I want to ask you a question. Where did your value system come from? I think our values come from a lot of our experiences, both good as well as bad. I also think that our values come from the major influences in our lives, and with that said, I think perhaps a more penetrating question is who has impacted your life the most? And I think when you answer that question, you will see that person's values etched indelibly upon the placard of your heart. [04:55.7]

For example, my values, I guarantee you, not only came as a result of trials and tribulations, not only as a result of good times and great jubilation, but my values came from people that impacted me the most, a couple of close friends that taught me compassion and selflessness and humility. I learned discipline from my golfing buddy who lived to be 82 years of age and he taught me just the basics of discipline. I have learned grace from my wife.

But I think the greatest people to teach me the most powerful values in my life other than my wife is my country mother from Oklahoma and my third-grade dropout daddy from Texas. My country mother had a resilience that I have never seen matched. She would quote Henry all throughout the day. “Ricky, if you think you can or if you think you can't, you're right. So, why not think you can be an overcomer?” [06:05.2]

It just was ingrained in me, because not only did I hear her words, I actually watched my mother overcome major setbacks, several miscarriages, a heart attack, a stroke, many disappointments in life. She never let anything get her down and I know that the value of resilience was so meaningful and so significant to her, she was a major force in my life.

Then that third-grade dropout that many of you already know about, he didn't talk much and, as a result, I think my values with my dad, they were not so much taught to me more than they were caught. I caught my values from my dad, values like don't judge. And what was he teaching me? To model respect and dignity.

He taught me to be early. He'd say, “Son, you'd rather be an hour early than a minute late.” What was he teaching me? To be dependable. [07:04.1]

“Son, make sure that you're kind.” What was he teaching me? To always show empathy for others. Remember, there's a difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone.

Empathy is when you have compassion for those that hurt to the point that you want to help in some kind of way, and that was my dad. My dad taught me to be a servant. He would say to me, “Make sure your servant’s towel is bigger than your ego.” I can remember my father saying it's very difficult to be a servant and make life all about you. Come on, somebody. I can remember that and that value of being selfless as a servant was really powerful.

One of his strongest values he taught me was to do my best, to make excellence my benchmark. I'm thinking right now of the great major league baseball player, Ozzie Smith, who said on one occasion, good enough isn't good enough if it can be better, and better isn't good enough if it can be best. [08:11.0]

My father would say it this way. “Son, if you're going to do a job, do it right.” Now, I know grammatically, it ought to be “doing well”, but I love the way that third-grade dropout used to say it, “If you're going to do a job, do it right.” I can remember growing up in Northern California and my brother and I were assigned to cut the grass a lot adjacent to our house. In our minds, back when we were kids, the lot was several miles, but the reality is it was probably a hundred yards.

But, anyway, we didn't have a Briggs & Stratton 3.5 horsepower engine lawnmower. We didn't have a riding lawn mower. We had a push more and what they used to call a grass sickle, and you'd swing it back and forth and knock down the big tall grass. [09:02.6]

It didn't matter what the farming implement was, excellence was demanded, and I can hear my father's voice with a piercing familiarity. “Ricky, that's not good enough. Do it again.” Hmm, no idea at the time that those words, “do it again”, they were training me. They were challenging me. They were placing a demand upon me to always do my best.

Another one of the values from that third-grade dropout was probably the most significant value that my father shared with me and I find it interesting that this value mirrors my mother's resilience as well. At the casket of my first wife, my father was right there by my side and I looked at my dad and I said, “I've lost hope.” I’m holding the hands of two boys. They're crying because their mother is gone. The room is a sea of sadness and I just looked at my dad and I said, “I've lost hope.” [10:05.4]

And he looked at me and he said, “Son, you can't lose something God gave you. You haven't lost hope. You've lost perspective.” And then he said three words that literally changed the course of my life. He simply said, “Son, just stand.” Just stand. And that value may not seem like a big deal and it didn't at the time, but that value speaks of resilience, my mother's resilience combined with my father's courage to make a choice, to keep standing, combined with hope that was in me, whether I felt it or not.

That's powerful, friend. I know that some of you might be listening right now and things aren't going well. May I encourage you? Even though we're talking about values, may I encourage you to keep standing? As a matter of fact, to make standing a value. Don't quit. Don't give up. Just keep standing. [11:08.0]

I think that might be…no, no might to it. I think that is the single most powerful value that I caught from my father, to not quit, to not give up, to keep standing. And look at what it produces. It produces an environment of resiliency where, well, you know what? I made it through this day. Maybe I might be able to make it through the next day. I'll tell you as a widower, you literally live moment by moment. You live minute by minute.

I tell widows and widowers now, and I'm so privileged to talk to them and I share with them, just breathe. Just put one foot in front of the other. Just take it moment by moment and that resiliency is literally compounded as we continue to just live, and then you realize, I'm not just living, but I'm surviving. [12:09.8]

Then at some point you realize, I'm not just surviving, but I'm actually starting to feel things again, and baby steps turn into bigger steps, and before you know it, your heart starts to beat again and it is absolutely profound, and it started with three words at a casket when a daddy said, “Son, just stand.”

I haven't even talked about the hope component that is produced by just standing. It is profound. Hope really was triggered by those three words. I remember thinking maybe a month or two after my wife had died, I remember one day thinking, Maybe I can go on. Maybe my boys won't be sad all their lives. Maybe I can live my life. Maybe one day I'll stop crying. Maybe I'll laugh again. [13:04.5]

Friends, that's hope. No ifs, ands or buts about it, that is hope. I meet people all over the world. They say, I've lost hope. It allows me to say what that third-grade dropout said to me and I add these words. If you're still breathing, you still have hope. Boy, that's good. If you're still hanging in there, you still have hope. Just keep breathing. Just keep standing. Just keep standing. Standing really is the foundation on which hope is built because when you give up, you're basically saying to yourself, I've lost all hope. What a powerful value.

So, friends, this is what I would suggest. Why don't you think right now about the one guiding principle in your life, the number one value that guides everything else, that guides all your behavior? What is the most important value in your life? And then you build your values, your other values, based on that guiding principle. [14:13.5]

I think that's really important and I don't think we think about that enough, but I'll tell you this. It's powerful enough to keep you out of trouble if you can think of the guiding principle on a daily basis and the values that you've built on that guiding principle.

Let me close by sharing why I think it's important to remind ourselves of values.

First of all, it's important to remind myself of the endgame. In other words, I'm not just going through life, but I'm hopefully leaving a legacy. Now, you're going to leave a legacy. It's either going to be positive or it's going to be negative. For most of us, it’s probably going to be a combination, so why not do your best to construct the most positive legacy that you can? I am working to build a legacy in my family, as well as in my community. I want to make my community better. [15:06.3]

I think the second reason that values are important, not only am I building a legacy, but without reminding myself of a guiding principle every day and the associating values on which those principles are built, I have the tendency to go off the rails. It was Walt Disney who said, “It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”

Friends, values do not include what we do for a living. That's not a value. That's what we do for a living. It's how we pay the bills. Values don't include what we look like or where we live, or what our title is. In the words of Jennifer Cruise, “Values aren't buses...” They are not intended to get us somewhere. They are supposed to define who we are. [15:55.8]

And I think in a society and age where we allow everyone and everything to define us, maybe it's time to return to our core values built on a guiding principle. I think it's time to return to those values, to who we are, and live the life we were created to live. What's your guiding principle? What are the values that are built on that principle? Think on these things for the next couple of days.

Friends, what a thrill to be with you today, and until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick asking you the most important question I could ask, how you livin’?

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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