The Things That Matter Most

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are”

~Roy E. Disney

In his new book No Limits, John Maxwell makes a profound statement worth consideration. He writes, “Today I am far less interested in certainty about many things and much more interested in clarity about the few things that matter.”

The statement comes on the heels of writing about how he relies less on his beliefs, which over the years have become fewer and fewer, and more on values which do not change. He adds, “Every time you learn something new, your beliefs adjust. In my lifetime I’ve let go of dozens and dozens of beliefs that I once possessed just because I learned more or experienced more.”

It caused me to reflect on my own personal and leadership journeys. I can also look back now and see where certain beliefs have changed over time. Clarity of values has brought perspective which in turn has brought much more meaning to life.

Where are you on your journey? Your belief systems are vitally important and I do not wish to diminish them. But perhaps a shift, no matter how small, toward having more clarity over your values is in order. Beliefs will change over time and through life experiences, but your values are your foundation. Here’s why they are important.

Values clarify your why

Your life’s purpose, both personally and professionally, is rooted in your values. Life has meaning and fulfillment when you know why you were placed on this earth. When you have more clarity about why you are here then everything else you do toward that end makes more sense. No longer is it a chore, it’s a calling.

Values clarify your passion

Passion alone is not enough. I can get passionate about losing weight for a week or two, but if I don’t have the discipline to follow through it won’t be enough. Passion is the fuel for your purpose. When you understand why you are here and the purpose behind it, then your passion will be contagious.

Values clarify your character

Maxwell devotes a section to the role that values play in determining your character. He writes, “Our values determine our character, and our character determines the direction we will go in life.” Clarity of values is critical to understanding the kind person you will be because your character flows from it. Whatever station you are at in life – husband, wife, father, mother, executive, leader, etc., what will set you apart is that you are a person of character. In short – clarify your values, clarify your character.

Values clarify your focus

Maxwell said he was far less interested in certainty about many things and much more concerned about clarity in the few things that matter. What great perspective!

What about you? How different would your life be right now if you began making the shift away from wanting certainty about many things to clarity about the few things that matter most? In this stage of your life right now, what are the few things that matter most?

We want certainty because we have a sense of security attached to it, but life takes on a whole new meaning when we can look at it with clarity. That’s when you understand what matters most.


Doug Dickerson
Doug Dickerson
DOUG has been speaking to audiences in the U.S. and overseas for more than 30 years. Doug knows how to spin a story, make you laugh, and how to challenge your traditional ways of thinking about leadership. Most of all, Doug is committed to helping you grow as a leader. Doug is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and studied Clinical Pastoral Education at Palmetto Baptist Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. While his leadership expertise has its roots in ministry and teaching. His background also includes public relations and business. Doug understands the necessity of leadership development and why creating a leadership culture in your organization is critical to your success. He is the author of four leadership books including: Leaders Without Borders, 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders, Great Leaders Wanted, It Only Takes a Minute: Daily Inspiration for Leaders on the Move, and Leadership by the Numbers. As a speaker, Doug delivers practical and applicable leadership insights with a dose of humor and authenticity that endears him to a wide range of audiences. Doug is a John Maxwell Team member.

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  1. Thanks Doug, nice article. I teach a leadership series for frontline supervisors and middle managers emphasizing that becoming a true leader is a very personal and mostly internal journey. Gaining clarity about who you are at your core, what I refer to as foundation values, is the key to your ability to excel as a leader.

  2. Great points. Though, I do my best to not mention the words “my values”. It’s because a lot of the people I work with see the word “values” as being wishy-washy new age mumbo jumbo. So I tend to say “true north” quite a bit.

    What is my true north? Language, history, and acknowledging everything we do is based on incomplete and inaccurate information.