Training Message: Establishing Underlying Axioms

Mark Brown

Mark Brown

By Mark Brown

In our Max Living training and in the Max Living System Guidebook, we emphasize core values, and with good reason. The core values you identify for yourself should serve as a personal compass, guiding you in the ways you use your time. Or, perhaps a better way to put it is that your core values should represent the “ideal you” that you can constantly measure yourself against. When you find yourself drifting from the ideal, you make corrections.

A future message will devote more time to identifying core values. This message is about axioms that guide behavior. You might almost look at core values as atoms, and axioms as the protons, neutrons, and electrons that make up those atoms.

So, what is an axiom? One definition is “a generally accepted proposition or principle, sanctioned by experience.” Because the concept can be considered “self evident,” proof is not necessary. Axioms are, by definition, true; using axioms as you identify core values therefore helps you live according to true principles.

On the Max Living blog, I recently reviewed Snow Rising, a book that had a profound impact on me. The central message of this book was the power behind four characteristics that the author labeled “axioms”—compassion, humility, gratitude, and conscience. (Axioms don’t have to be one-word concepts, but you get the idea). Most rational people would accept these four axioms as something everyone should demonstrate in their lives. The value of living according to these axioms should also be self evident, making them worthy foundations for core values.

As one passage of Snow Rising explains it, “The strength of my beliefs and values, the power of my convictions, is defined by how closely what I believe to be true mirrors the axioms, or what is actually true.” Shortly later, this illustrative idea: “Life isn’t necessarily easier when I believe gravity to be a true principle, but it is a lot less dangerous. So, first: axioms; and second: beliefs and values.”

In other words, gravity isn’t something we “believe in.” Rather, it simply is, and when our actions conform to its existence, things work out better for us. The closer your core values adhere to axioms—to truth—the better it will work out for you. Working against principles we believe to be true will only create cognitive dissonance—an internal realization that we hold conflicting ideas, or that our actions do not reflect our beliefs.

To resolve the discomfort caused by cognitive dissonance, we rationalize and typically surrender some or our beliefs. This is entirely contrary to the concept of core values. If you establish core values that aren’t based on truth, you will eventually find your actions, and therefore your life, drifting from truth.

By acknowledging axioms, you can more effectively define your true core values that sustain you over time. This process can help us really know ourselves, which is what personal development is all about. And of course, the Max Living System is designed to help you identify and—more importantly—focus on these core values in your everyday actions.

Post from: Max International Blog