Values-Driven Decision Making

To value something is to esteem it to be of worth. Click To Tweet

Whether we like it or not, every decision we make is driven by the values we believe to be important.

  • The decision whether or not to exercise shows how much we value our health
  • The decision whether or not to learn a new skill shows how much we value our intellect and our career
  • The decision whether to spend money or invest it shows how much we value our finances
  • The decision whether or not to spend time with family and friends shows how much we value our relationships

Even things as simple as deciding to stay up late to watch another movie on NetFlix, read emails on weekends or spend 60-hour work weeks show what we value.

I recently ran a short survey for my blog readers and subscribers to better understand their needs and how I can provide more value to them. While this blog is primarily geared towards SQL Server high availability and disaster recovery topics, it has been my goal to empower IT professionals to lead better lives while working with SQL Server. It’s one of the main reasons why I initially avoided presenting and speaking on topics pertaining to SQL Server at the global PASS Summit and focused more on professional development topics – success, leadership, presentation skills, emotional intelligence, etc.

One question I asked in the survey was about the top 3 challenges that they face at work. I wasn’t surprised with the results since I’ve been in this industry for more than 20 years now (I started when I was fresh out of high school) so I knew what to expect. Here are the top 3 challenges that my blog readers face at work.

  • Not enough time to accomplish work tasks
  • Not enough training/learning opportunities
  • Inefficient/outdated tools and technologies

My initial reaction to the top result – not enough time to accomplish work tasks – was to create a better way to efficiently accomplish tasks and better ways to schedule and plan. After all, that’s what has been done for the past decades – better time management, better calendars, better apps, etc. All of these have focused on being efficient at what we do. I’ll be honest to say that this is how I’ve done it in the past – cramping more items in my calendar to get more work done within the limited time that I have both at work and at home. I felt a sense of satisfaction knowing that I was able to accomplish a lot during the day and that I was checking off items in my “to-do” list as I completed them. Besides, I’m a big fan of automation and working efficiently.

But did it really make sense? When I have spent time with my family as per the schedule in my calendar, have I really been efficient with how I handled my time? I remember having breakfast dates with my wife while constantly looking at my watch to make sure I don’t miss my scheduled conference call. She wasn’t pleased as far as I can tell. Which was why I figured we don’t need a better, more efficient approach. What we need is a new way of thinking. Or maybe we should just go back to the basics.

And, that’s why I believe we first need to define our values.  While I’ve previously written about putting our priorities in our calendars, we need to take another step backwards and start identifying and defining our values. Because what we value will get prioritized, what we prioritize gets scheduled and what we schedule gets done.

When the things that we do and the way we behave match our values, we achieve balance and alignment. Click To Tweet

I think the biggest challenge in this approach is that it forces us to look within – to contemplate, meditate and reflect. The easiest way for most of us is to search for “getting more things done at work” or “time management tips for IT professionals” or anything similar. But when we do the hard work, when we search internally instead of looking for answers externally, that’s when real change happens. That’s when we start making a difference. When the decisions that we make every day are based out of the values we maintain, we create an alignment in our lives and achieve balance. You build integrity and trust over time that gains other people’s respect.

And, then we start doing things that matter. All because the decisions that we make are grounded on the values we believe in.

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