“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Socrates, the author of that quote, lived by a set of values.
In many instances his values contradicted the society of his time.
When faced with a death sentence pronounced by a jury – he refused to back down from what he felt was right and true.
What influences you even before you're able to define yourself?
And much of what we value is passed on from our family and the society within which we are raised.
As a father and a husband the responsibility to shape my family's values rests on me.
In my family we define 12 values with which to live our lives.
FYI – this list is always being refined and challenged. My son helped me add “Honesty” to this list!
These family values act as anchors for us. It helps us set a standard of behavior between members of the family and friends.
By knowing exactly what the Centeno values are, my kids know immediately whether any type of behavior is acceptable or not.
I've even had my kids point out when I'm not living up to them 🙂 Which is humbling (and pretty darn cool!).
The Centeno Family's 12 Values
1. Courage To Make Tough Decisions
Courage is the strength and conviction to face anything you fear – like standing up to that bully in school or disagreeing with something a group of friends is saying, because you know it's wrong.
Recently my son stopped hanging out with a neighbor at school. When I asked him what was going on, his response was, “That guy is a bully and I've seen him push people around and I've had to confront him about it. We're no longer friends because of it.”
My son realized that his friend was doing something that was against our family values.
He had the courage to confront his friend.
In today's busy world – it is easier to get complacent and ignore things that bother. We justifying our non-action by thinking that we can't change things or that it won't make a difference in the long run.
But as real men – that is unacceptable behavior.
We should have the courage to stand up for what we believe in. If you adhere to standing up for others who can't stand for themselves, your kids will take notice and do the same.
2. Commitment To Goals
Commitment is simply doing something even when you don't feel like doing. When you have a goal you need to realize that it's almost always going to be hard.
For my son and I – it's getting up at 5:45am and going to the gym. Normally it's not so bad, but when it's freezing cold outside – we don't always want to get out of bed.
We still do it because one of our goals was to get him to stay in swimming. We realized we had to go to the pool every morning and practice his strokes if he wanted to make it on the State team.
That applies to all your goals – you have to be committed to achieve them. You've got to be able to put in the time and the effort to make it happen.
3. The Importance Of Hard Work
Hard work in modern society has become very unattractive. We're constantly bombarded with “work smarter, not harder.” There is even some truth to it because proper planning and strategies can save you a lot of work.
After that, no matter how well you plan, you have to actually do the hard work of making it happen and that's where a lot of ventures end.
I'll just use the example of snow in my driveway. I could have a truck come in and plow it out and they do a pretty good job and for a few years I did that.
But when my son got to a certain age – I felt it was important that we go out there and do that as a team. It takes an hour and it is a pain in the backside (literally) – but it's also hard work and that is something I want to instill in my children.
There is no substitute for sometimes putting your head down and getting the work done and putting forth the full effort to reach your objectives.
4. Be Honest With Yourself
Honesty is not just about being true to others. I'm also not talking about little white lies here. What I'm really talking about is being honest with yourself.
This is one of the hardest things you can do, because it's so easy to fool ourselves into believing we're better than we are so we're over-confidant, or that everything is going to be alright, when it's not necessarily going to.
You have to have the fortitude to be honest with yourself and to say: “I need to start doing this” or “I've gotta change what I'm eating or otherwise I'm not going to live that long.”
Once you start being honest with yourself, it'll also be so much easier to be honest with the people around you.
5. Taking Initiative To Do The Difficult Tasks
Initiative is doing what needs to be done without being asked to do it. I'm an especially big fan of my kids going out and taking the initiative.
Sometimes they don't, but with my kids I'm always trying to reward them or commend them when I see that they have taken initiative:
*Taking the trash out
*Cleaning something up
*Taking care of their younger brothers or sisters
From a business perspective, I've interviewed quite a few people and I can tell you I won't hire someone if they don't show initiative.
6. Kindness – An Incredibly Attractive Trait
What does kindness really mean? For me, like I explained to my kids, kindness is taking care of those that can never pay you back.
It really is one of the true hallmarks of a gentleman – that he gives to those and makes the effort to help those who can't repay him.
Kindness is considered the most attractive trait in a relationship. A marriage is strong when both partners are kind to each other.
And if you think this is some wishy-washy, new-age, feel-good philosophy you can think again. Out of one family's commitment to kindness one of the largest charities in the world was born:
Anyone know who the Rockefeller family is?
7. Servant Leadership
Leadership seems pretty simple if you think about it, but it's different than just being a boss. This is something I've had to go over with my daughter Svitlana. I've tried to explain to her the difference between being bossy and being a leader and I've seen her step up.
We were ice skating the other day. Svitlana's a great ice-skater. A Badger State Games champion since the age of 6 for two years running. She gets out on the ice and she spins and moves gracefully – I love watching her on ice skates.
There are tons of girls, many older than her, who cannot skate at her level. What I told her a leader does is not to just get out there and say: “Hey, watch me!” A leader goes over there and helps those that need assistance and pulls them up.
A leader does not step on people, a leader reaches down and takes their hand and pulls them up. After this talk I was really proud of her. On our last trip she seemed to have understood and she was going around offering lessons to show people to ice skate better.
8. Live Life With Passion
When I think about passion I think about my daughter, Arianna. She's passionate about everything (except bedtime, brushing her teeth, and sharing toys with her sister Svitlana).
She wakes up in the morning and she's passionate about her babies (her dolls), giving me a hug, the cartoons going on and even about eating something great for breakfast.
You have to have something in your life that makes you JUMP out of bed in the morning.
And FYI – you rarely just find this passion – you often have to build it through work and persistence 🙂
My passion is helping men all over the world through RMRS – I love what I'm doing here and that's what keeps me motivated.
If you don't have something you're passionate about, find something and build from there.
9. Positive Thinking – Seeing The Best In All Situations
I'm an optimist. If you're a pessimist – research has shown that you're going to have a harder time in life.
I always try to find a silver lining because when it comes down to it MOST of us are incredibly fortunate.
We have our health, family or friends that love us, and have time to improve our situation if we take the action to do so.
My wife's grandmother spent a couple of years in a Nazi work camp. That always puts things in perspective for me. She used to always say,
“At least there is no war.”
I'm sure you'll agree. Unless you are in a combat zone or living in a war-torn country……… you have a lot to be thankful for.
Even if you're not in an ideal situation, try and find the good in your life. You may be healthy, have a decent job, a loving spouse, wonderful children, amazing friends or a supportive family.
These are all great things to be optimistic about and will help you improve your outlook on life.
10. Respect People Of All Ages
Respect is something that we show to other people who have earned it. I try to work with my kids about this and insist that they call men “Sir” and women “Ma'am”.
It's also not just just about showing respect to those who are older than you: you have to respect people that have put in the effort to accomplish their goals.
Sometimes you may be put in the situation that you're working under someone that's younger than you. But if they've earned their stripes it's something that you have to accept and look at what that person has to offer.
We live in a big world and there are a multitude of religions out there and a sea of different viewpoints. Yet one of the big problems we have today is a lack of tolerance.
I'm not going to say that you have to convert or accept what another person is saying is right, but you should be open to listening to them and let them express their point of view.
Once you know what they believe and stand for, you may just find you have some things in common.
This may lead you to some unlikely friendships or business contacts because understanding what motivates others will help you understand to accept others for who they are, without compromising who you are.
12. The Value Of Thrift
My definition of thrift is not being wasteful. You shouldn't be going out there and spending money that you don't have and buying things you don't need.
You should also try not to waste what you do have. We have a limited amount of resources on this planet and I try to impart on my kids and my family that we need to take care of what we have.
Now that you know what my family values are and why they're important – use this list as a guideline and create your own.
You need to sit down and figure out what values you want your family to adhere to. Shared values bring people closer together and it's NOT about being perfect – it's about resolving to commitment and trying daily to be the best you (and family) you can be.