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True North and Your Dreams

by David DeFord

On a recent flight from Dallas to Omaha, I found myself struggling for ideas as I worked on an article about “possibilities.”

Noticing a mid-twenty-something young man seated beside me, I asked him if he would help me a little. I asked him, “If success was absolutely certain, what would you wish for in your life?”

Tony thought long and hard—fifteen minutes or so. Then he surprised me with his answer.

I expected him to project his level of affluence, notoriety, or super achievement.

But this young man, standing at the cusp of his future, answered my question like this, “I want to be able to look back on my life and say, like Paul in the Bible, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith.’ I want to know that I have lived my life with total integrity.”

Wow! My eyes misted over as I heard this young father and husband discuss his striving for integrity, not for riches or acclaim.

I’m so glad I asked him about his dreams.

Some of us head for particular dreams, and then get lost in the means to the end. We want security and happiness for our families. Obtaining these dreams requires us to work hard and strive for a measure of prosperity. In our professional strivings we forget our original desires.

When we let this happen, we focus only on the chase for prosperity and forget the reasons we wanted it—security and happiness for our families.

Many families fall apart in such pursuits. So the means become the ends.

How can we keep our original dreams alive?

How can we make sure we continue to seek for what’s really our most important dreams?

We need a compass—an instrument than always points to true north.

That instrument is the collection of your values.

True north values don’t shift with expediency. They always point toward the north. No matter the difficulty of the climb, we must not trade our values for a lesser accomplishment.

No matter the shifting popular views, our true north values always point north.

If we value honesty, we will not lie to make ourselves look better or to get ahead.

If we value integrity, we will attain our successes without taking unfair advantage of others.

If we value our families, we will never trade them for worldly acclaim or financial attainment.

Our values represent our true north.

Tony, my young seat mate, impressed me with his sense of true north. I asked him if he knew anyone who lives in such a way that they can look back and say, “I have lived with total integrity.” Sadly, he said that he did not.

I challenged him that in twenty-five years from now, if his son will sit beside someone like me on an airplane who asks him if he knows someone who has lived with total integrity, he will immediately answer, “My dad.”

I issue to you the same challenge. So live that those around you know that you live true to your values.


No true victory requires the sacrifice of our values. David DeFord

The height of your accomplishments will equal the depth of your convictions. William F. Scolavino

True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what's right. Brigham Young

No man loses credit by being true to his principles. George Q. Cannon

When your heart speaks, take good notes. Michael Angier

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