Circle of Success – Core Values

Success if a process. Success doesn’t happen only once in a lifetime. Success is like a circle that goes around and around continuously because one must keep it going. In the circle of success, it may stop or even end on an event, project or period of time. However, it begins again, sometimes on a new event or project, and other times it picks up again from a past time. None the less, when it begins, the steps to success must contain the above six steps to be a success. Before you disagree, let me explain.

Values – Who am I?

In leading and leadership, “Knowing Thyself” sets the foundation of one’s core values, i.e. honesty, integrity, work ethic, courage, commitment, trustworthiness, fairness, respect of self and others and several of the other twenty-plus character traits and core values. Furthermore, one’s spiritual intellect and values contributes significantly to the personal value system of people. Other concepts such as strengths, weaknesses, emotional intelligence levels, physical fitness practices and ability to communicate – oral and written – adds to a leaders ability to understand oneself.

Wisdom is a process as well, also a crucial part of growing as a leader. The premier leadership trainer in the world, John Maxwell says, “To grow yourself, you must know yourself.” Therefore, the Delphic Oracle of “Knowing Thyself” is critical to leadership and leading others, and enables one to read and understand others with whom they interact and lead. Core Values are foundational to knowing oneself and growing as a leader.

Core Values

To be properly and intrinsically motivated requires that leaders and those being led have deep-seeded core values. Core Values are not just simple beliefs. They are time-tested and accepted beliefs that are based on philosophical thought and practice that have been proven to apply to a more than just a few individuals. They are valued and accepted as truth, they are known to make a difference in the life and behavior of individuals, and they are used by an individual as foundational beliefs and guidelines for righteous and principled living.

Core Values are not subjective! Core values are objective values that are morally and ethically proven to be in the best interest of all people, that are based on intrinsic behaviors that treat people respectfully, and that result in a caring nature equal to all mankind.

The derivative ideal (philosophy) of morals and ethics is the Natural Law, which as Aristotle points out in his Nicomachean Ethics, centers on the ideal of “doing good.” Doing good is also related to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The philosophy of human affairs centers around the idea of happiness. The virtue of happiness goes well beyond the feelings and pleasure of the moment. Ultimately the intrinsic reward of happiness is found in the excellence of human moral principles and ethical behaviors. In other words, the very base of who we are and of what is our make-up.

Natural Law according to St. Thomas Aquinas is an ordinance of reason towards the common good. Ordinance of reason signifies rules or virtues based on the innate reasoning of the ideals of God; in other words, the Laws of Nature. Therefore, all laws today are supposed to be ideas stemming from the Natural Law.

St. Thomas Aquinas in his writings identified seven basic goods in the quest of happiness:

  1. Life – Self-preservation. Drive to sustain life;
  2. Reproduction – Make more life with another, including sex drive;
  3. Educate one’s offspring – importance of schools, lessons in morality and survivability;
  4. Seek God – instinctive desire to know God;
  5. Live in Society – Man by nature is a social animal who has a desire for love and acceptance.
  6. Avoid offense – basic good is not becoming offensive, and we feel shame when we don’t do good (shame has been removed from our society today);
  7. Shun Ignorance – Nature of man is to become smarter about things and life.

Aquinas also proclaimed that we don’t need the Bible, or religion or church to understand the Natural Law. He says that we violate our innate human nature due to ignorance and emotion. Ignorance by seeking what we “think” we should without reason as to what we know we should be doing. Emotion by letting our feelings and desires overcome what we know we need to be doing, causing us to fail to do what we know is right and good. As such, the following Cardinal Virtues are based on the ideas associated with the Natural Law of Man.

Cardinal Virtues

The four Cardinal Virtues – Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice – were first identified by Plato as essential requirements of living a happy and morally good life. Aquinas defines virtue as a “Habit that disposes an agent to perform its proper operation or movement.” He believes that the Cardinal Virtues provide a foundation of all moral activity.

The word Cardinal means “serving as a hinge” of other words. In other words, in the case of Cardinal Virtues, all other virtues, i.e. values, are hinged upon or related to them. Here are some brief statements from various sources on each.


  • Restrained desire for physical gratification. Moderation of physical pleasures such as eating, drinking, and sex.
  • Restrain what Aquinas calls “concupiscible passions” – the appetite of desiring pleasure and avoiding what is harmful.
  • Due restraint upon the affections and passions which renders the body tame and governable.
  • Frees the mind from the allurements of vice.
  • Avoid excess and peer pressure to behaviors of pleasure counter to the divine principles of Deity.
  • Exercise self-control and keep worldly passions within limits of the good and honorable.

Fortitude. (Courage)

  • Ability to undergo pain, peril and danger.
  • Rational reasoning to avoid cowardness and irrational behavior.
  • Courage to demonstrate the mental, physical and moral courage to do good toward all mankind.
  • The Grit, Perseverance, and resilience to overcome evil with good and keep going when the going gets tough.
  • Endure the pain and discomfort of achieving the human good.
  • Restrain the fears that prevents reason for enduring dangerous circumstances.


  • Ability to make good judgments on proper behaviors.
  • Regulate our lives and actions with proper and good reasoning.
  • Regulate the present and the future that leads to happiness.
  • Decision-making that discerns between right and almost right behaviors.
  • Discernment between the irrational and the rational end goal – happiness.


  • Governs our relationship with others – Golden Rule for example.
  • No consideration of personal gain but about community and organizational gains.
  • Render to others their just due – caring about their progress and betterment.
  • Render assistance and aid to depressed individuals regardless of other thoughts.
  • Includes all other virtues that are directed to another person for their good.

As noted above, to be a leader, you must be a person of character, character that is based on the Cardinal and other hinged virtues (values). This means that you are ethical and principle-centered. This is an important quality in an individual, especially a Christian. It will prove beneficial to the development of the leadership team and organizations Vision, Mission, and Goals to have a deeper, fuller understanding of this concept.


Character is defined as the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual. Human rectitude is defined by Natural Law moral and ethical principles, which is also encompassed with several other core values defined by St. Thomas Aquinas and other. Character Counts outlines Six Pillars of Character as the core ethical values. The Virtue Project lists 52 other virtues that are related, hinged, to the Cardinal Virtues. These traits are behavioral expectations of all people. A short review of these concepts is at times necessary to remind us of our base behavior toward mankind. Included are pertinent scripture reference. Character is driven by “a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).


The base of Core Values – Morals – is defined as the most important code of conduct put forward by a society and accepted by the member of that society. Morals are the principles and guidelines that we follow to restrain our Ethical behaviors. Morals refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons. (Bartlett, Robert and Collins, Susan. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The University of Chicago Press, 2012)


Ethics is defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation; the principles of conduct governing an individual or group. Ethics are the practices we exhibit in our daily conduct of doing good, doing what is right, and the rectitude described in our moral standards. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at

Several organizations and writers have described several attributes or practices under the title of core values evolving from Aristotle’s moral virtues.

Natural Law Morals + Leadership Ethics + Uncompromising Core Values = Authenticity – Trustworthiness – Relationship Building Expertise. Elements of true Servant Leadership.


Published by Compass Leadership

Retired Navy Officer; Retired Navy Junior ROTC Manager & Instructor. Professional Public Speaker: Focus is Servant Leadership Principles and Practices, Organizational Development - Leadership Circle of Success, Customer Service, Mentoring, Team-Building concepts and personal life coach. Vision: Recognized as a "Making a Difference" Leader. Motto: Developing & Equipping Leaders who Develop Equipped Leaders. Lead by the "Law of Service", which says if one want to live long, one must serve.

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