I was talking to my cousin last week and in our conversation he quoted an individual who stated “Core values are something you are willing to be punished for.” (Checking the internet, this quote may belong to Patrick Lencioni) This got me to thinking about our stated values. If I asked you to list your core values, what would you write down? If I were to ask those closest to you to list your core values, what would they write down? What about those in your neighborhood? At your church or workplace? Would there be a disparity between their list and yours?
The unexpected opportunity to spend the summer at home with our kids has underscored this issue for me. You see, I have discovered that my daughter is deaf. Maybe you have a child like this too. You squat down to her level and start talking — and initially she makes eye contact somewhere in the neighborhood of your face. But pretty soon here eyes are wandering all over the room and she starts to fidget. Well, ok, she’s not really deaf, she’s just not listening to me. In the midst of my attempt to express a core family value, she has decided to take a little trip to her happy place. Why? Honestly, I don’t think kids care much about what we say. They care about what we do. And they believe in what we are willing to stand up for. What we are willing to be punished for.
I often fall into the lecture mode with my kids, believing I can dazzle them with my knowledge and wit only to see their bright little eyes begin to glaze over with boredom. Ouch. And while they aren’t really listening to me, they are listening – to what I say to others and about about others. And they are watching me – to see how I will act when the pressure is on, when the chips are down, when things go wrong. And how I will act when they let me down. They are watching me to see if I am willing to be punished for my values, or whether I jettison them when things get tough. And I think what they really, really, want to know is will dad stick with his core values, even when I am the one doing the punishing?
If I’m brutally honest with myself, there is too big a gap between my stated values and what I live out when the pressure is on. I think/hope/believe that each year I am closing that gap, but it is still unacceptable. There are things that need to change, adjustments that must be made.
What about you? Do you have a gap? Does something need to change? Tell me what you think Use the comments. Or send me a message via the contact page.