I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the values I strive for in my work. Three principles keep coming to mind: Do Good Work, Be Honest, Share.

It’s hard to provide an exact definition of these three values. But it’s really easy for me to know them when I see them. Here are some questions I ask myself to make sure I’m on the right track:

 

Do Good Work

  • Do I know my customers? Do I put myself in situations where I continually get to know them better?
  • Have I clearly defined the problem that I solve for my customers? Do I continuously try to find better ways to solve it for them?
  • Have I signed up to serve them for the long haul? Do my actions reflect long-term commitment?
  • Do I focus on making my service the best it can be for my customers? (“best” as defined by my customers)
  • Do I ask first “how can I help my customers?” before I ask “how can I make money?”

Be Honest

  • Do I tell my customers openly when I’ve made a mistake?
  • Do I accept criticism from my market with openness and grace?
  • When I encounter prospective customers do I ask myself what their business problem is, and whether or not I can help them solve it? And if I can’t, who can I connect them with that can solve it. (This one is huge.)
  • Do I make promises that I can keep, and then keep them?
  • When a customer hires me, do I focus on solving their problem rather than just delivering my services?

Share

  • Do I tell people about my work so they can help me connect with people who need my help?
  • Do I put my work in front of the people who need it (rather than only the people who I have immediate access to)?
  • Am I sharing my work in a form that is appealing to my audience (rather than a form that is convenient for me)?
  • Am I sharing my work with patience (rather than expecting immediate action from my audience)?
  • Does my audience truly benefit from the information that I share?

Two Magical Corollaries

  1. You can run your business (or your career) by the values above and you can make a living doing it. It’s not the easiest path but it will work if you’re willing to do it. Pardon the triple negative, but: Just because not a lot of people operate this way doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
  2. If you work by these values, you’ll attract others that do the same.
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