A number of years ago, I documented my values and beliefs regarding how I want to live my life. It was a valuable exercise. Documenting these things, however, is not nearly as important as comparing them to my actual behavior and actions. That exercise has created many “Holy sh**” moments for me. I rarely live up to my own standards, and frequently fail miserably at being the man I want to be.

I’ve discussed this approach with friends and colleagues periodically. When I get to the specifics of my malfeasance, they generally admonish me to “be kind and non-judgmental of myself.” The problem is that inadvertently encourages me not to grow and to make the same mistakes tomorrow that I made yesterday. Personal growth doesn’t require error-free living. It DOES require reflection and change. I still make mistakes, but they’re generally new mistakes.

I strongly recommend that you take the time to do the following:

• Document your beliefs and aspirations.

• Periodically assess how well your behavior and actions measure up.

• Adjust your behavior to bring you closer to your beliefs and aspirations.

It’s OK once in a while to adjust your aspirations, but NOT just because living up to them is just inconvenient. Mine follow:

I am REALLY sentimental, but I don’t show it to everyone. I love dark chocolate (70% minimum). I’m a fitness NUT. I LOVE words. People tell me my enthusiasm is contagious when I’m really “juiced.” I love an audience.

My beliefs, without regard to specific spiritual orientation:

I own my life. I am responsible for my actions and accountable for my results. PERIOD!

This implies living without blaming. I believe that it’s the only way to live successfully! None of us have perfect circumstance in our lives. Blaming is a way of self-inprisonment.

I believe that personal growth is our primary, lifelong mission. If we’re the same today that we were yesterday, WHAT IS THE POINT?!

I believe strongly in self-management and course correction. Wisdom is NOT an automatic by-product of experience. Here’s the formula: Wisdom = experience x reflection x relentless honesty x accountability (accepting consequences with no blame, no finger-pointing, no excuses, no whining, no escape-hatch) x behavioral change. Each of these elements is necessary, but alone, each is insufficient; it takes them all.

I’m sure you’ve heard the adage: “Some people have ten years of experience; others have one year, ten times.” Life teaches us lessons only if we are willing and able to be students.

Our natural tendency, which is one that we must reject, is to associate with people who affirm who we already are, rather than those who inspire us to reach higher and do better. I believe that in order to grow, we must surround ourselves with the kind of people we WANT to be, not those who mirror our own character defects! Also, we must discard naysayers, doomsdayers and dream-slayers. If we want to grow, they have to go!

We all have people in our lives that we regard as friends, who are not. Some of these people validate us, even when they believe we’re on a bad path. As we become more increasingly disconnected from each other because of electronic communication, it’s increasingly important that we find people who have wisdom and insight, and who are also willing to make an emotional investment in us.

Others, out of jealousy or because of their own limited personal ambition or aspiration, try to kill our own. Don’t listen to them or become one of them!

I believe in “acceptance” (giving in to reality). I DO NOT believe in “resignation” (giving up on possibility).

I used to think that “acceptance” was for spineless people; that it was tantamount to “throwing in the towel.” I now feel that, because present circumstances were created by past action, “acceptance” is a prerequisite for sanity. It does NOT imply giving up.

I believe in under-commitment and over-delivery, not the other way around, and that character is both forged and revealed by commitments we make and keep.

At some point, many of us came to believe that “saying yes and doing no” is OK. We say we’ll be somewhere and don’t show up; we set up an appointment and arrive an hour late. Intention must be supported by behavior and action or it’s hypocrisy. I have failed in this dimension, personally and professionally, too many times to count. It’s deadly! I’m now in recovery!

I believe in relentlessly searching for THE truth, and that an absolute requirement for success is our ability and inclination to differentiate from among “OUR truth,” “OTHERS’ truth,” and “THE truth.”

We create our own reality, and then conduct our lives accordingly. The power of seeing this and making appropriate adjustments is life-changing.

I believe in the priority of creating a meaningful life, and that each person must define “meaning” for him or her self.

Your values are not necessarily mine and visa versa.

I believe in the virtues of integrity, honesty, courage and valor, accountability for my actions, perseverance and (especially) loyalty.

Pretty self-explanatory.

I believe that without discipline, aspiration is hallucination.

My definition of discipline: “Doing WHAT needs to be done, WHEN it needs to be done, THE WAY it needs to be done … EVERY TIME!” The key here is “every time.”

I believe that it’s never too late to find happiness, and that it’s worth a high price. One of life’s biggest challenges – maybe THE biggest – is figuring out which bridges to cross and which ones to burn in an effort to accomplish that, without doing too much damage to ourselves or others along the way.

When we decide to “cross a bridge,” we sometimes have to discard what came before. Assessing when to do this and when not to can be a challenging proposition. We have to balance the priority of changing things in our lives with the consequences inherent in doing that. Much of the time, most of us take the safe road and stay stuck.

I believe the formula that many people employ to justify their dysfunctional behavior is this: Doing the wrong thing & a good excuse or rationalization = doing the right thing.

Instead of the aforementioned, I believe that when we feel discomfort from dissonance, we must use it to change rather than rationalize our behavior! Discomfort should instigate action and growth, not provoke inertia or excuses. Personal responsibility must always trump comfort or convenience.

I have failed myself, many times, when measured against my own beliefs. Instead of making excuses, the question I regularly ask myself is this: “When I fail, do I commit to DO better and to BE better?”

Author's Bio: 

Rand Golletz is the managing partner of Rand Golletz Performance Systems, a leadership development, executive coaching and consulting firm that works with senior corporate leaders and business owners on a wide range of issues, including interpersonal effectiveness, brand-building, sales management, strategy creation and implementation. For more information and to sign up for Rand's free newsletter, The Real Deal, visit http://www.randgolletz.com