By Younas Chaudhary
In life and in business we are defined by our core values and beliefs. We see everything through those lenses, and everyone associates us with them. Our values are influenced by our upbringing, family, friendships, culture, beliefs, education, society, and interactions.
I would like to share with you 5 golden values that have helped me in business and in life:
1. Just be you
An important value that I have learned in life is to always “just be you.” As an immigrant, I grew up in a remote village in Pakistan and moved to a highly advanced Western society in my young age. Taking on this new society’s habits and mannerisms would have helped me assimilate into it more easily, but I never pretended or aspired to be someone different from who I was. To be sure, I adopted and embraced many virtues of the new culture. But I did not transform myself from a Pakistani into a Westerner, as I just wanted to be simply me, Younas Chaudhary.
In life, we are often tempted to act like someone else, in order to fit in better into the environment, gain acceptance, and advance in business. But you should never feign your identity. All of us are equally important individuals with our own cultures, upbringings, education, beliefs, personalities, ways of life, and so forth. So, a core belief in my life has been to just “be me.” This has allowed me to be frank and straightforward in my dealings and conversations and to be genuine in my relationships with other people.
For instance, when I started writing my memoir “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold,” several people including some close relatives urged me not to reveal certain things about my life, such as my roots, my businesses, my cars, my homes, and my wife’s debilitating disease. Yet I did not take their advice, because I wanted to be open and frank about my life. I wanted to be me, plain and simple! And I’m glad I made that decision.
In short, always be true to yourself. This will anchor you solidly and give you a stronger footing in life.
2. Be an early riser – the early bird catches the worm.
Business books and podcast gurus often preach the advantages of rising early. Over the last four decades, I have consistently woken up at the crack of dawn, and my early morning hours have been the most productive. Growing up as a child in Pakistan, I saw farmers tend to their farms shortly before the morning Islamic call to prayer (fajr), at around 5:00 a.m. The weather was very hot in my village, and farmers took advantage of the early morning hours to finish some of their best work.
My parents were also early risers, and I likewise developed the habit as well. Later, in the Army and in my numerous hustles in Canada and America trying to survive, I made early rising a core belief and habit. Despite now nearing my retirement age, I still wake up early every day and do my best work in the morning hours, keeping my mind fresh, sharp, and alert.
3. Work hard consistently and predictably.
I love hard work with consistency. I’ve made it my lifelong habit, and I value it greatly in others. You deliver the best results in your work when you work rigorously and consistently. Take the example of these weekly blogs: Three weeks ago, I had a painful medical procedure, and my doctor instructed me to take full rest. But I believed in getting the blog out on time each week, as I have done consistently for the past 29 weeks, and I especially did not want to break the habit while I still had fresh ideas in my mind. So, I collected my thoughts and ideas and put them together as usual. I did not want the consistency of my efforts to be impacted by my personal pain and discomfort. I did not want to let you down, my readers!
For over three decades, I have maintained a consistent work ethic. I worked hard from dawn to dusk on the weekdays and half-days on Saturdays. I did not start this way; I was never a studious kid and did not read much. But I was a good listener and learned this good habit from others.
And this work ethic together with the preplanning of my day, week, and month that it required has yielded great dividends. Others have criticized me, saying that “hard work with consistency” is a recipe for boredom and stifles creativity. But in my life, consistent hard work has paid off at least 90% of the time!
4. Be fearless.
Like many of you, I have struggled with fear over the years. But instead of yielding to it, I have embraced fearlessness as a core value in my life. We all struggle with fear, fear of losing our jobs, being robbed, losing a home, losing a car, losing a loved one, and so forth. However, I have learned to fight fear with a sense of detachment, accepting that I have no control. Whether good or bad happens, I recognize that I have no control over things.
I have never brought anything into this earth, I cannot take anything with me when I leave this earth, and whatever I have here is simply a huge bonus.
So, your best course of action is to manage your inner fear by embracing your lack of control. Simply use good sense and intelligence in your actions, be present and enjoy your current day, present moments, and be content with whatever you have. Over the last six years, I have been dealing with my wife’s debilitating Parkinson’s Disease. This disease and its attendant memory loss have caused her to behave like a small child, and all I can do is provide the best care for her. I cannot control the progression of her disease, and there is no point in fearing what tomorrow will bring. I simply provide her my time, her medicines, and the needed 24/7 caregiver services.
5. Embrace thrift.
In a dilapidated strip mall in Houston, there is a tiny barber shop where I go to cut my hair. I have been going to that same place for over 20 years. I could get my hair cut at the highest-end salon in the best part of town. But why do I instead go to the strip mall? It’s because thrift is one of my core values. Thrift is not being cheap, as most people think it is. Instead, it is being careful with things of value, taking care to preserve them rather than waste them. And I believe it is something that comes from your upbringing.
As a child, we were cash poor. For breakfast, on most days my mother would make 3 rotis (round flat bread) for me, and on some days, I would eat only two and leave the third in the plate. This would make my Ma unhappy with me because she knew how hard it was for our farming community to bring food from the farm to the table. On most occasions, I saw her eat what was left over the next day, and she taught me the deeper value of preserving things rather than wasting them, especially food items.
I had just one or two shirts growing up, and I was forced to repeatedly wear them on multiple days because of (1) I had to wait for the next Eid (Muslim religious holiday) to get another one, and (2) the more you wash clothing, the more it would shrink and get spoiled.
These five golden values are just a few of the many core beliefs that have helped me succeed in my life and in business.
You can read more by purchasing my best-selling memoir “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.
Stay tuned for Blog 31 for a summary of my 16 tips to negotiate deals.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.