My values to live by

Written on October 18, 2020 5 minute read

Recently I've been thinking a lot about what my values are. Working in Tech companies, we've always had a set of values that have helped guide decisions and goals, but I realised that I'd never actually sat down and written my values down. The behaviours that I want to display in everyday life, both in work and in my social lives.

Here's a stab at them. I might come back to this and change them as I work to put them into practice.

Do no evil

Doing no evil seems vague, but I think that this is actually a really easy one to live buy. It's also one that's most likely to play out in a work setting. I want to make sure that my actions, or my job, don't contribute to evil in the world. Some examples of this could be working for a company which promotes war, or works with organisations which are known to promote hate (think Breitbart). Where this gets hard to measure is when you look at companies such as oil producers, or social media companies or massive conglomerates. Whilst they don't set out to be evil, a lot of evil is manifested through their platforms. This is one to come back to if I ever have to weight up working for one of these businesses in the future.

One of the things which I really value about working for Taxi for Email is that everyone who works there is really aligned to this value. It's a really open, and nice bunch of people, and I'm proud to work on a day to day basis with such a great group of people.

This translates into shopping habits as well. In 2018, I set my new year's resolution to be to use less plastic, and be kinder to the environment. Since then I've not had a plastic toothbrush, and I've continued to buy my toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap, which has no plastic packaging. Supporting local businesses has been something I've really been trying to do during the pandemic, and hopefully talking about this publicly has helped others to think about this before buying stuff from places like Amazon.

Be kind

Being kind is both surprisingly easy, but also quite difficult, both at the same time. Being kind is easy, because you have to just be nice to people, and that costs nothing. But it's hard, because human nature is to be defensive, to massage ones ego, to engage in juicy gossip. Resisting these, and changing your behaviours here is hard. It's something I need to do better at.

To be kind, I want to make sure that I'm always supporting my friends. Cheering them on. Celebrating their achievements. Something I learned from Charlie Dark at Run Dem Crew was that as adults, we don't have the cheerleaders that we used to when we were at school, and this is something that we need to replace in adult life. Next time your friend does something amazing, let them know.

Turning up 100%

I think it's important to always turn up 100% to a situation. I want to make sure that when I choose to invest my time in something, that I'm giving it my full attention. I firmly believe that you get out of a situation what you put in. As a part of this, I want to make sure that I give a situation my full attention. Trying to spend less time on my phone is an easy, but small, change to make to help this.

Have passions and opinions

I wish I knew this when I was a teenager. I remember dropping out of a lunch time club because it wasn't "cool", changing a subject I was going to study at A Level and hiding these kinds of passions away from peers. Often these fears were to avoid someone's comment about how I was a nerd or something similar.

One song that really resonates with this is "High School Never Ends" by Bowling for Soup, which infers these attitudes still exist in adult life. That these attitudes to what is deemed as "uncool" still exist. One change I vowed to make in my life when I moved to London was to remove these people from my life.

I also decided to throw myself into any activity or hobby that I was interested in. I decided to be unashamedly a "nerd". I run. A lot. I play video games at 30 years of age. I taught myself to code. I joined the Labour Party. I wish I could tell 16 year old Ben to go and study computer science and maths.

Something else I decided I wanted to do was to have more opinions on different subjects. Too many times in the past I noticed myself feeling apathetic towards subjects that were being talked about.

Next steps

This post might have sounded boastful, and I guess in a way it is. I wanted to spend some time getting my thoughts and feelings on this together, and it turned out being a post about the changes I've made to my behaviours over the last 7-10 years of my life to try and make myself a better person. I'm going to try and apply these, where I'm not already living these values, and work on shaping them to be practical, but beneficial to me.

But I need your help. Please, call me out if I'm not following these values! Being accountable for your own behaviour is the most challenging aspect of your life, so please help me do this.