Values Rock!

Each of us has our own set of values that we live by. Sometimes we deliberately reflect on them but most of the time we don’t even think about them although they are humming along in the background, leading us when they need to.

I still remember, back in 1992 when I went through my first deep look at my values. I didn’t understand their relevance before then but once I went through the exercise of identifying and prioritizing them, it was like a light bulb of ah ha went off inside of me. I could suddenly see and even better, understand why I made decisions that I made. It has been that way ever since. In 1992 Integrity was my #1 value. I saw how important it was in my life soon after.

I was an executive of an organization where many on the board were asking me to run for Vice President at our upcoming election. I mulled it over, spoke to various board members, community leaders and family and decided that I would accept the request. The person running for President and I were on very good terms, meeting often regarding strategies for the furthering of the organization that we had.

Many were excited about the spirit and ideas we would bring to the organization. But the outgoing President did not see it that way. He did everything he could to dissuade us, to talk other members against us and even used a few rather egregious tactics to stop our momentum. His tactics finally worked on the person running for President. The night before the election, something happened because the next morning the outgoing President read a note he had just received from the person running for President, saying that he was resigning from the Board. All he said was that his work would require more of his time.  Talking to him later I was appalled at the tactic employed against him only the night before that caused him to decide to retire from the Board only hours before he was to be elected President.

So now, I was in a dilemma. Although I knew I had the strong support of a few board members I also knew the outgoing President could easily change other board members’ minds, those with whom I had had support. The outgoing President asked for and it was decided that the vote be suspended for two weeks so a new slate of officers could be established.  After thinking about what I should do, after talking it over with other Board members and the member who had been running for President and left, I made a tough position. Although I was really looking forward to enacting the ideas many supported, I knew that this was not going to be the right place for me to be the leader, not with what I had learned was going on behind the scenes. So I also handed in my resignation. Only, instead of referencing work commitments as the reason for leaving, I talked about the pollution on the Board. I had to. It was my integrity that mandated I do that if I were to live within myself with respect. The main urban paper, already aware of the issues in the organization picked up on a great local drama unfolding. My integrity also told me not to get down to the base level on this issue so I declined an interview with the paper and turned them to my resignation letter which would eventually find their way to them anyway.

It was a turning point in my life where I realized how critical and fundamental values are and play in my life. I learned the importance of being rooted with my values. It was liberating. It also brought with it a tremendous sense of responsibility.

Among the benefits I have fostered since then, is the ability to step away from an emotional context and look at the value (or principal) necessary to conduct myself appropriately. It has made a huge difference in the way I am and the way I listen to conversation, engage in conversation and approach projects and meetings. It allows me the room to connect more deeply because my intention is set on the values to advance rather than only the emotional content of a relationship, project or meeting.  There is nothing better than living from one’s values.

If you haven’t already, I recommend you try it, you might like it. And if you do, let me know how your values strengthen your life.

PS-To end the story, the Board reelected the outgoing President but the seeds had been sown and the organization went through a tremendous overhaul the folloiwng year.

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