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Q) One month ago, I left a highly regarded national consulting firm because I was opposed to its value system. Values embraced by senior management, such as: billable hours and the way they treat people, are totally different from mine. I know that my insistence on principles will hurt me financially in the short term. What I am beginning to question is whether my values are hindering my career.

A) Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” If you had stayed around this company, you would have paid a very steep price. You would have increasingly taken it on the chin from upper management. You are already starting to question your own ethics and honesty. Personal integrity is too important to ever think of compromising it. Looking back over time, I personally know of no one who regrets leading his/her life by a strict set of values.

During the course of your career, you have probably encountered co-workers who have become chameleons, adopting the values of the company and of their boss, particularly in companies where disagreement is viewed as a betrayal. What happens to them? Their spirit slowly dies. As the saying goes, “All that goes around comes around.”

What you’re currently experiencing is short-term pain for long-term gain. Before you commit to your next job, try to ascertain its value system. How do you do that? Look at its reward system. This will reveal what is truly valued in that organization.

- Joe Hodowanes, Career Strategy Advisor

J.M. Wanes & Associates

Joe Hodowanes, M.P.A., SPHR, is a nationally recognized career coach, syndicated columnist, and president of Tampa-based J.M. Wanes & Associates, J.M. Wanes & Associates is a career coaching, outplacement, and executive search firm specializing in executive-level opportunities.