April 4, 2014
How We Spend Our Lives, by Bethany Graybill
Earlier this week I had lunch with a dear friend who recently lost her mom to a very short and courageous battle with cancer. I asked what she missed most about her mom and if there were any special reminders of her mom or small mementos left behind in her care. Her response:
“My mom wasn’t a collector, so I don’t have a lot of things that remind me of her. But I do have stories. Stories of the way she impacted other people’s lives. Stories that make me think about the way I live my life… about the choices I make and the things I value.”
Writer Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” What you do says more about what you value than what you say you value.
So, how do you spend your days? What do you value?
At North Group, we define values as “beliefs that drive our actions.” So, let me ask you again: What do you value? What beliefs are driving your actions?
If you have a hard time defining your personal values, pause for a few moments and give this some intentional thought. You have some choices here – either you define your life or you allow life to define you. I understand that not all circumstances in life are your choice; but the responses to the circumstances are your choice. So what choices do you make in life and how do those choices reflect your personal values?
It may be easy for you to define your values and yet there is difficulty in living out these values. Pat Murray illustrates this difficulty by saying, “If you want to see someone in real pain, watch someone who knows who he is and defaults on it on a regular basis.”
One of my favorite books is Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. In this book, Susan encourages the reader to think through their own set of personal values by answering the following questions:
Where am I going?
Why am I going there?
How am I going to get there?
Am I realizing my full potential?
Am I fully extended in my capabilities?
Is there value and fulfillment in my work today?
When what you believe on the inside aligns with the actions you live on the outside, you have discovered your own personal values. And when you anchor your life in those personal values, you live with integrity…you live with a consistency and a cohesiveness that brings strength to everything you do. You are a force.
Companies have values too. Whether written or not, there are unique beliefs that drive behavior within your organization. And it is your role – as a leader in your organization – to model those values and make sure they are communicated and understood and lived out. Every. Single. Day. It is your job to encourage a consistent and cohesive culture that brings strength to your people and your mission.
Define your values, and then let your actions articulate those values.