illustration of My Core Values

My Core Values

How my core values of sustainability, growth, and independence influence my everyday choices and fuel my entrepreneurial spirit.


The good thing about having to attend all these funny leadership courses is that there is some amount of professional introspection happening over time. The probably most important thing I managed to really nail down about myself is finding out what my core values are, and also how they are ranked.

Knowing them helps quite a lot in every day situations!

Why it matters

For any given idea or situation, I can already predict how much I will agree or disagree (and others could do it, if they would care), or how much motivation I will have (or how fast it fades over time). Also can pinpoint very quick if I feel a sudden flash of anger coming up, why that is the case (violation of one of my values), and being able to communicate better my issues.

But on a more general view, it it also the major driving force about my day job. More specifically, if I stay at a given company or make a switch, and where to go next given a pool of options. Company environments always change over time, leadership folks change directions, the social factors change, and so on… and I can directly check everything against my values immediately and can predict how my emotional self will react down the road before it happens. Its like a “Thinking Fast”-style heuristic, whereas actually feeling that change might take a while.

Long story short, here are my core values, ranked:

1. Sustainability

I really hate to produce waste, even if its only digital stuff. And I also can not really stand any efforts that consume more input than the output they produce, or have an obvious/immediate glass ceiling in effectiveness.

In corporate environments, this most of all is all kinds of stupid actionism or “doing things for the sake of doing things”, the type of activity most bad managers tend to default to. Also any type of symbolic politics, where it is often known that an activity won’t have any significant desired outcome, but still requires effort, and people will call out “team spirit”.

Whatever the thing, I will support it if it: won’t produce (too much) waste along the way, is actually effective and efficient, and can be repeated if needed because the required resources are not too scarce.

2. Growth

Stagnation is hell for me personally, I always look for situations where the chances of tomorrow being better than today are reasonably high. I also have some inner voice forcing me to become a better version of myself every single day… my worst days are the ones where I didn’t learn/experience anything new. Also I personally simply love to scale things up and see stuff grow.

But this is strictly below Sustainability, because I will not support parasitic growth attempts. The only thing that really has Growth above everything else is known as cancer (and some viruses, …). Things that destroy the environment they need to live in order to grow recklessly are universally bad and will produce harmful outcomes.

3. Independence

Important here: not freedom. It is okay it I can not do everything I could possibly want right away for me, it is also okay to make some personal sacrifices for the bigger picture. The crucial thing is that I don’t want to have to ask anyone for permission.

Its very hard to accept situations when anyone can decide something for me and I have to follow suit. Feels like hell, and I’ll have strong urges to change that situation.

Exception to these rules are my other higher ranked values, Sustainability and Growth. So I will tolerate (without much effort) some leadership decisions as long as I and the company will grow sustainable because of it. I will also just accept some personal freedom restrictions if its for a good higher cause, even if really inconvenient.

Heuristic Examples

For me it has become kind of automatic/emotionless to switch jobs once the values are violated, like when the company isn’t growing (or even shrinking) or starts doing actionism - usually these situations go hand in hand. Ever heard of leadership calling out “team spirit” and tells sports team metaphors? Yeah, thats the second I pick up linkedin right away. It rarely gets better after that… not always a peak company situation, but very often. Heuristics are fast but not very accurate.

I also won’t join companies that are burning through their bank account without a reasonable sign of turning the cashflow around. For some people it is okay to work in these startup-type environments, but it conflicts with Sustainability too much for me. I always will strongly prefer profitable companies over very high growth but losing money, because chances are much higher to be around for more than some months and all the efforts (including socializing) don’t go to waste quickly.

But ultimately, there are obvious limits and signs that being an employee (even leadership/executive level) isn’t the long term solution for me. I am thinking of going down the solopreneur rabbit hole on the side and see if I can have success. At least on paper this sounds like complete alignment with my core values, and I don’t mind high stress or lots of work.

  • Number of words: 873
  • Reading time: 5 minutes
  • Posted: 1 months ago

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