Ten Values You Can Build Upon
The last five miles of the marathon were grueling. The muscles in my left leg were screaming, “STOP!” The encouragement of the anonymous crowd kept me going and I finally crossed the finish line. I discovered that I had omitted one detail in my training that was the cause of the pain. You can be sure that detail was included in my preparation for the next marathon.
Marathons are a parable of life—your preparation is with a view to crossing the finish line. There are ten core values that will enable you to finish life well.
Keep your word — Anyone can make an impressive label. The real issue is the content of the container. Let what you say be a definition of what you will do. Character is what you are in secret – integrity is your willingness to be measured by your word.
Admit your wrongs — Be willing to declare, “I was wrong!”— No excuses, no blame shifting, or whitewashing with extenuating circumstances: just a clear recognition of where you missed the mark. Most people are willing to extend mercy when there is a clear ownership of wrong. Admitting wrong opens the door for growth in areas of weakness.
Look for the gold in the rock — When teaching this I will often hold up a sheet of white paper with a small black dot on it and then ask, “What do you see?” The majority of people answer, “A black dot.” A man involved in gold mining told me they would mine two ton of rock for one ounce of gold. When you look at people do you see the rock or the gold?
Know the limits, rules, expectations and consequences of your life — In other words, know to whom you are responsible for what. Look realistically at the impact of your life. In the ears of a child, the small aside comment can have as much impact as the main point of your conversation. Your followers will take what you do in moderation and use it to condone their excess.
Distinguish between “person” and “performance” — Person has to do with an individual’s identity. Performance relates to the ability they bring to a given task. We must learn to differentiate between an episode of poor behavior (performance) and the individuals intrinsic worth. To evaluate a person’s work with a statement like, “Do you have a full deck of cards?” calls their worth into question. On the other hand you could say, “Are you pleased with your performance?” That challenges them to assess their performance relative to their ability.
Perform anonymous service — It is one thing to serve upon request, but quite another to serve an anticipated need without being asked. A servant will focus on the task assigned. A person with a servant heart will focus on the person being served and fit into their need. In fact, the servant heart might go as far as to: pick up the paper someone else has dropped; put money in the “time expired” parking meter; cover the cost of a strangers meal; rake the leaves on a seniors lawn, and the list goes on.
Anchor relationships in common ground and expand your world in the differences — Focusing on our common point increases our attachment and strengthens loyalty. It provides the foundation for learning from one another’s differences. In that way, our points of divergence can become doorways of development.
Know the difference between an arrow and a voice — An arrow points the way. A voice leads you. While travelling on Interstate 5 in the USA, I was looking for signage that would direct me to the airport. I saw planes on approach to the airport but no signs. I pulled off the freeway at a rest stop and asked a man for directions. He looked at me and said, “It is rather complicated. I have the time – just follow me.” He was a voice not an arrow. Let your life experience build a reservoir of potential counsel so that you can be a voice not an arrow.
Reward open, honest expressions and questions — Too often we punish displays of honesty by upbraiding, judging, belittling, or embarrassing the person. The fact that people have trusted us with their opinion needs to be honored. Why they hold that opinion is more important than the content of their words. We honor them most by trying to understand them before we express disagreement.
Live with the law of love — The lofty goal of any relationship should be, “I will seek your good at my expense.” People react when they feel used to fulfill a vision or meet the needs of a company, spouse, or any other relationship. Love does not seek its own, boast about its accomplishments, retain a list of past offenses or use its place, power or possessions to impress, manipulate or control. Love holds us in relationships, has an eye for the gold, keeps us anchored in integrity, gives us a sane estimate of our assets and sets us on course to cross the finish line triumphantly.
Let me conclude with a statement of Dwight L Moody’s: “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”