Letter No 83 - What do you value the most?

Dear friends,

What do you value the most?
Have you ever thought about it?
Why do values matter?

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a poor farmer named Hari. He lived with his wife and children in a small village. One day, while plowing his fields, he found a large pot of gold buried in the ground. The temptation to keep the gold was great, but Hari knew that it didn't belong to him. He decided to take the pot to the village headman and asked him to find the rightful owner.

The village headman was impressed by Hari's honesty and decided to give him a small reward. But Hari refused to take the reward, saying that he did what was right and that was reward enough. Word of Hari's honesty spread quickly throughout the village and beyond.

One day, a rich merchant came to the village looking for a trustworthy person to manage his business. When he heard about Hari's honesty, he offered him the job. Hari accepted the offer and worked hard for the merchant. He was honest and loyal, and the merchant trusted him completely.

Over the years, Hari's hard work paid off, and he became very successful. He built a beautiful house for his family and lived a comfortable life. But he never forgot the value of honesty that had brought him his success. He continued to live his life with integrity and taught his children the importance of being truthful and honest in all their dealings.


Ok. I would like you to take a pause here. Think about what you are thinking right now. If you can, write down your thoughts on a piece of paper (or your phone before moving on).

I'm willing to take bet you have had at least one of these thoughts:
  1. 'Ahh, all this is good for childrens stories. This is not how real life works'.
  2. 'Why not, he should have taken the money. He did not steal it.'
  3. 'The world has changed. It is not so simple.'

Am I right? And I'm sure there is also a part of you that wants to believe the story.


Here's one more story excerpt from the Harvard Business Review magazine.

"Vineet Nayar, CEO of the Indian IT services giant HCL, likes to rock the boat. Asked what he wished his greatest legacy to be in five years, Nayar responded without missing a beat: "That I have destroyed the office of the CEO." He led the charge that gave rise to the company’s bracing motto, "Employee first, customer second"—an idea that would give many managers hives. And he invited employees to evaluate their bosses and their bosses’ bosses; then he posted his own review on the firm’s intranet for all to see, and urged others to follow his lead.

What’s Nayar up to? Pressed to explain, he told us that he sought enough "transparency" and "empowerment" in the company that "decisions would be made at the points where the decisions should be made"—that is, by employees, where the company meets the client. Ideally, he said, "the organisation would be inverted, where the top is accountable to the bottom, and therefore the CEO’s office will become irrelevant."

Nayar might be dismissed as a loosely tethered idealist except that his company, with nearly 55,000 employees and a market cap of $24 billion, is growing even faster than India’s red-hot economy. He’s doing something right, and, as we found in a yearlong study of Indian executives, his leadership approach is closer than not to the norm among India’s biggest and fastest-growing companies."

Nayar lived by his value system of 'empowerment' and designed his corporate HR strategy around it. He didn't just leave it as a word in the mission-vision presentation.

Read this article in HBR here: https://hbr.org/2010/03/leadership-lessons-from-india


Here is one more story I found online written by the founder of remote working app 'Lighthouse' that really touched me.

'One day, my father was meeting privately in his office with a staff member. They were discussing a number of issues important to them when the phone rang.

My father ignored it.

After 3 rings, she looked at him and asked, "Aren't you going to get that?"

He paused, and remarked, "No. I don't know whether that call is important or not, but it can wait. I do know this meeting is important."

Feeling valued, she got a big smile and they continued the conversation with new energy.'

This is a story of value-ing people's time, and being fully present.


My father told me a story of a property transaction he did in which he had the opportunity of getting a few extra square of land by drawing the map a little differently. The buyer hadn't noticed and would probably never know. But my father promptly shared the flaw in the drawing with them and let go of the extra buck he could have made.

I have heard people say to be about my father - I would trust him with my money blindfolded. And several people have.


I am not attempting to be a preacher of moral values here.

What I am saying is that it is important to ask oneself what the values I wish to live my life by? It is a choice we must make. And then it is a series of decisions we must make. Sometimes (often), living by values involves sacrifices and giving up of short term gain.

But living by values can help personally and professionally in many ways:

  1. Better and quicker decision making. E.g. if I live by the value of first commitments, then I won't keep changing commitments when it become more convenient to me.
  2. Increased mental resilience. Clear values help ride through challenging times with strength and clarity. If my value system is based on respect, then no matter how difficult the situation, I will choose to handle myself with graces, even while I may have to take tough decisions.
  3. High trust relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust is built on predicability. Predictability happens when I have a way to handles certain types of situations - i live by a set of values.
  4. Sense of fulfilment. To me this is probably the most important benefit. Today we live in a world where we have an abundance of opportunities, of entertainment, of relationships, of leisure, of learning, yet we feel dissatisfied and not good enough. Living by values creates it's own sense of fulfilment. I'm sure you felt it when you did something and felt glad about it even if it was not beneficial in the short term.

Values make sense. Think about what are the values that are important to you. Ponder of them. Reflect on your current life situations and see what does 'living by your values' mean.


One of my life values is to be 'playful' and fun. To have fun in whatever I do, and to make people have fun. To be light-hearted and relaxed even in the most dire of situations. LIght hearted does not mean casual. Fun does not mean unprofessional. Playful does not mean results are not important.

Hence I named my Instagram handle @playful_ceo. The playful is obvious, and CEO means I get shit done.

But lately I have not been living by my value. The last few minutes have been high pressure for me. We are doing some new things, and taking some bets at our workplace. I myself lost focus on a few things over the last year, and now the results we wanted are not there. It has been quite difficult. I lost my playfulness. I lost my sense of humor. I stopped living by my values. Forget anything else, I am not feeling good about it. And in the process I have managed to bring down the energy of people around me who truly believe in me and what we are doing as organisation. Bringing down their energy is good for nobody. And it just reduces our chances of success.

I'm writing this letter to you, dear friend, as a reminder to myself to live by my own values.

Thank you for reading this till here.

Please share a story you may have heard about values. I would love to read and be inspired!

In Fratitude (friendship and gratitude)