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While sometimes it isn’t easy to take the high road, it is important that we ensure our values are driving our everyday actions. And because our everyday actions impact the stability of our finances, having defined values is important to finding your financial footing. 

In my course MPower for Couples, one of the lessons is about reflecting upon influences and experiences as a way to define your values. One of my core values is that people are important, much more important than a budget. To show this value, I try to act in a way that says I am more concerned about a person than I am about things or even over my own wants. 

This is a core value of mine because I honestly think the world would be a better place if we all try to do this. I know that I can’t expect others to act out of a caring place if I do not practice it myself.  

My value in action

I recently had an experience where, like most of us, I could have reacted in a negative manner; however, my value system and my perspective completely guided my behavior. 

See, I had a hair appointment scheduled. It had probably been four months since my last appointment, my grey roots were two inches long, and my highlights were extremely grown out. I was looking forward to the hair appointment; I was looking forward to a bit of a refresh. The appointment was scheduled for first thing in the morning. I arrived about five minutes ahead of time, but the salon door was locked and the salon was dark. 

So, I headed back to my car to wait a bit. 

I kept my eye on the door, but didn’t see it get unlocked. I texted my stylist saying: “Hey, I’m here but the door is locked. Just want to make sure you aren’t waiting on me.” I thought perhaps she was in the back and just didn’t realize the door was locked or was running a minute late. 

So, I waited a few more minutes and still didn’t hear from her. The obvious reaction was to become frustrated and be mad. 

But then I thought about another experience I had …

Another test on values

About five months after we moved to Los Angeles, my friends and family back home wanted to host a wedding shower for me. We set a date for the shower and I asked for a couple of days off work to travel back to the midwest. 

Then shortly after it was set, we needed to change the date. Luckily it was before invitations had gone out, so it wasn’t a big deal. 

When the weekend of the shower finally rolled around, I headed back to KC for a long weekend. 

I returned to work on the Monday or Tuesday after the shower weekend. My boss promptly called me into his office. I figured he just wanted to check in.

Instead, I got a lecture about abandoning my job, not showing up to work and how unprofessional that was. I was in shock. I just sat there and listened, but was completely taken aback. I went back to my cube where I’m sure just looked at my computer for a second. 

Then I realized that I hadn’t notified work of the change in dates. It was truly an honest mistake. 

The original dates for the shower were still on the calendar as my days off. I immediately walked down to my manager and apologized profusely. I explained the situation and told him I would ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

I then went back to my desk and started reflecting on the situation, becoming increasingly upset. The fun of the weekend came to a crashing halt and I was a little perturbed by my boss’s reaction. I decided if I was ever in his shoes, I would handle that kind of situation differently. 

I would have shown a bit of concern for the other person instead of it seeming like a “gotcha” situation.  

Future-proof your perspective

I decided in the future when I was in my boss’ shoes, I would first think about the other person in the situation instead. I would consider: Is this a quality person with whom I want to maintain a relationship? 

Everyone should have known that I valued my job and truly cared about the company I worked for. I was invested and would never just not show up without advance notice or a call on an unplanned sick day. So, the fact that I didn’t show up completely for two or three days was out of character. 

Instead of jumping to a conclusion about me abandoning my job, I thought my boss should have picked up the phone. I was newish to Los Angeles and Mark was my only local support system at that point. Showing a bit of concern for me, and making sure I was OK, would have been reasonable and built rapport between us. 

So while I don’t think his reaction was wrong (we can’t just not show up for work after all!), it was a clear moment for me where my perspective was affected. I had been on the receiving end where I felt like the company was the value, not the individual, and that is not my value system.

And so waiting outside the salon, I thought about this moment with my manager and how I vowed to put the other person first. Instead of getting more frustrated, I counted out the things I knew for certain: 

  1. My stylist hadn’t arrived which is out of her character as I find her to be very responsible;
  2. She also wasn’t responding to texts when she’s normally very responsive; and,
  3. I know she is single and lives alone.

So, my follow up text had nothing to do with my frustration, it was showing her compassion. 

I just said: “Hey, hope you are OK. We can completely reschedule for another time.” 

She responded back quickly apologizing profusely and letting me know she was just running a bit late. So, I waited a few more minutes, got my hair done and all was good. I told her the story of my boss and how that just gave me perspective that me piling on does nothing. 

Someone running 15 minutes late for a hair appointment when it had never happened before is not worth the energy to get upset over. 

My hairstylist felt so bad she compensated me by giving me a discount on the haircut. While I didn’t think that was necessary in any way, I greatly appreciated it. I made sure to voice that. So, while I was positively rewarded financially for the choice, I think the more rewarding thing was that my stylist and I will have rapport going forward. 

It is not a relationship burned, and that is more valuable to me than 15 minutes or the discount on the haircut. 

If you want to work through defining your values, I encourage you and your significant other to take my MPower for Couples course! 

MPowered Affirmations: 

  1. Money isn’t everything. 
  2. Having a value system will positively impact my financial well-being.