OK, I’LL ADMIT IT: Sometimes my own foundation feels a little uncertain.  Despite the fact that I’ve been building this momentum for 15 years now and have been seeing considerable success in the last year, I still have my moments of doubt.

I think it’s part of the human condition.

EarthquakeWhat do you do when you’re starting to doubt your values and principles?  Here’s some exercises I do with my clients:

  1. Cut yourself some slack.  We all have doubts and frustrations, so it doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your way.
  2. Go back and review some of your prior work.  If you developed a vision, mission, or set of values, dig that out and really immerse yourself in how it felt when you created them.
  3. Recapture, in new words, what that foundation is.  When I did this exercise recently with my own coach, I discovered that it’s nearly the same as what I wrote a few years ago.  But there’s a few words which really capture a new energy and dedication to this powerful purpose, so it feels both fresh and familiar.
  4. Talk with your supporters.  Many times, others won’t be distracted by those passing issues, and will help you become grounded again.  The question, “Tell me again why I’m doing this –?” is scary, but with someone you trust, can become a wonderfully energizing conversation.
  5. “Fake it ’til you make it.”  This works for some people, but not others.  When you go out and display confidence, sometimes that will also change your own outlook.  I wrote an article about how this worked for me and changed the way I interact with people to this day.

How do you know when it’s time to change your foundational values?  First, don’t do it quickly.  Your emotional state can potentially do great damage of you’re over-reacting to short term problems.  And if you have employees and partners, deep changes can totally change their view of you, your company, and why they’re associated with you.

Second, be thoughtful.  You’ve learned a lot since you started, so take all that in and learn from it.  Think through the implications to customers, employees, partners, suppliers, your leadership team, yourself, and your family.  If you’re changing the foundation, it will likely affect every one of those people.

And third, work with someone who isn’t so tied into the emotions.  This is one of the roles I can play with my clients, helping them to think more long-term and big-picture.  But if big changes do indeed need to be made, I can help them do that more carefully.

I find that foundational values rarely need to change.  They’ll become more refined over time and better articulated, but the origins are clearly still there.  Despite industry downturns, loss of key customers, and other emotional earthquakes, those deep values will persist and make you strong.