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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

© 2017 Doug Dickerson

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