Your Choice. Be Real or Go With the Flow

Dr. Jolene Church, SCP, ICF-MCC
4 min readMay 18, 2022


The Key to True Meaningful Relationships

photo credit: shutterstock

If core values had a motto, it would be: “Do not cross this line!”

Your friend calls at the last minute and lets you know that she can’t help you move this weekend. You were counting on her and the move has been planned for over a month.

Your boss promised a raise following the successful completion of the project you spent the last year on. Because of your hard work and dedication, the project was a huge success, but the promise goes unfulfilled.

You spend the entire morning waiting for the plumber who was supposed to show 4 hours ago. You promised your son that you would come to his school assembly and now it looks like you will be a no-show.

Life can be full of frustration, disappointments and irritation, but what if I told you that within those things that rub us wrong are the keys to living a life of meaning and fulfillment?

Yes, it’s true.

Why is it that we get irritated, frustrated or just flat out pissed off in the first place?

It’s simple. A boundary is crossed.

We all have boundaries and a violation of our boundaries set off alarms of emotion. So how does this connect to meaning and fulfillment?


When a boundary is crossed, it violates a core value that we hold. A core value is something that holds great meaning to us. Core values are rooted at our core.

If core values had a motto, it would be: “Do not cross this line!”

The list of core values is vast and may include anything from respect, punctuality, ethics, and integrity to family first, innovation, teamwork, or autonomy may hold very special meaning to us. Yet most of us haven’t taken the time to sit down and define our values. We certainly know when the line is crossed.

It is important to know what matters to you.

In the workplace, well-defined missions, visions, and core values are the norm. Business leaders understand their importance and significance. They help serve as a compass to drive the business.

So why aren’t we doing the same to drive our lives in the direction we desire?

We haven’t made it a priority because we don’t see how it matters.

When integrity is something you value, everything you do will be with integrity in mind. When someone acts with little to no integrity, it gets under your skin. The alarm goes off.

Defining your core values, what’s most important to you and why, will help you consciously live a life by design. Your values are the foundation of your authentic self. Additionally, boundaries are an important aspect to our directional compass.

Our values provide us with “do not cross this line” boundaries. If we choose to overstep our own boundaries, going against our own values and better judgement, the trajectory of journey is changed as we run askew from our authentic self.

In the workplace, you may feel pressured to stay after hours because that’s what everyone who wants to get ahead does. If you hold a core value of putting family first, staying late doesn’t feel right and you feel guilty. You cross your line.

In your personal life, you don’t speak up when your friend hurts your feeling over a broken commitment. If you hold a core value of reliability, not speaking up doesn’t feel right and you silently sulk. You cross your line.

In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, author Bronnie Ware shares the greatest regret of the dying patients interviewed was, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

We have to have the courage to speak up, not people-please, and refuse to accept societal pressures and expectations to go with the flow.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real” Brene Brown.

We are meant to be connected and networked with others. That is how we live a life bigger than ourselves. Life is not about being self-centered, it’s about being centered and balanced so that we can share what we have to offer the world with others; that takes being authentic.

Being true to ourselves by identifying and standing firm by our boundaries is one of the greatest acts of self-love that we can do for ourselves. It increases our confidence, our boldness, our courage, and helps us avoid, regret, resentment and other elements that erode deep and meaningful connections.

What are your core values?

All great engineering starts with a plan.

“It all depends on what you visualize.” Ansel Adams

Make a list of your core values. Brainstorm as many as you can think of.

Over the course of the week, refer back to your list and circle the top three core values that stand out to you and seem to be the most representative of you.

This is the beginning of your becoming crystal-clear on who you are, the real you, the authentic you, and establishing clear boundaries that cannot be crossed.

This is the beginning of your amazing new bold and courageous journey.



Dr. Jolene Church, SCP, ICF-MCC

Executive coach and workforce optimization consultant. Member of the Forbes Coaches Council. Best-selling author and speaker.