In the not so distant past, phones were solely an audio tool. Today, not so much … as they’ve evolved into much more of a visual device. And when used in the right place, at the right time for the right reason … they can be a valuable asset. Yet, that same phone can be very costly when it becomes an appendage of unconscious, bad or simply routine habits.

At a minimum, it can be distracting. At worst, it can be destructive … to our productivity, our relationships, and ultimately to the trajectory of our journey. That’s what happens when a tool becomes the focal point. Random becomes the routine. And the routine becomes an addiction.

I’m sure most of us have experienced glimpses of this when we randomly pull our phone from our pocket and aimlessly dive into one, two or a few apps. I know I have … more times than I want to admit. If you haven’t, just look around in any crowd and you will see what I mean. When the tool becomes the focal point, it comes with a cost.

The same is true of our behaviors, wants and needs.

Behaviors, wants and needs, in so many ways, are just tools. Yet, for many, they have become the focal point. One definition for “focal point” is the central or principal point of focus. This focal point is the object of your attention.

As I delved deeper into my work on core values, I had no idea what a roadblock our focus on needs, wants and behaviors would be in understanding and embracing core values. It’s not that they aren’t important … it’s the undue importance that we have come to put on them that can get in the way.

Paying attention can be a great thing unless it’s void of an intention from your core. Unintended attention can lead to a lot of useless activity … like randomly checking your cell phone! And it can lead to a lot worse when it comes to our behaviors, wants and needs.

Attention without the right intention leads to core tension.

In our fast-paced world, we seem to give a lot of attention to behaviors, wants and needs. Just take a sampling of corporate training programs or self-help books. At the same time, most don’t give near the same attention to their core values. While totally understandable, this combination eventually dilutes any sense of real intention. Behaviors, wants and needs are tangible and visual … and therefore a little closer to our comfort zone. Yet, much like checking our cell phones, they can become quite random. Band-aid solutions in many cases.

In fact, so much attention has been given to behaviors, wants and needs, that many a list of personal and organizational core values are simply words or phrases reflecting valued behaviors, wants and needs. Not actually core values. Behaviors, wants and needs should be a reflection of our core values. Not vice versa. It’s a little tricky and actually very fluid.

So, the direction of the flow matters!

Intention, grounded in a set of core values, fuels a more valuable sense of attention … and in-turn you get a whole different level of value from your needs, wants and behaviors. When the flow is moving in the wrong direction … that is behaviors, wants and needs unintentionally defining core values rather than core values fueling needs, wants and behaviors … you end-up experiencing an unhealthy tension at your core.

Yet, when your core values are the fabric of your intention, you create a healthy tension amongst your needs, wants and behaviors. And, who knows, it could even help you use your cell phone in the right place, at the right time for the right reason!

There is no telling what kind of value that could bring our world!!

It might be worth spending a little front porch time taking a look at your core values. Are they really core values … or just a reflection of behaviors, wants and needs that you value? In building a return on integrity, we are not looking for what we value … we are looking for what are our values. It is a lot more than just a play on words.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts below!