Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Importance of Values and The Penn State Tragedy

I must admit that I was once a skeptic of the whole idea of knowing and living out your values but I am now a full fledged believer. I confess that during the process of trying to define my own values and values for my church, I don't think I fully comprehended what values were and their importance.  What difference does it really make that I know these values?  But two recent developments helped convince me how important it is to know and live out your values.

Maybe you've asked the same thing when you were pressed to memorize your company's values.  What's the big deal with these values? And I've heard several people share that their church leaders go through the process of naming and proclaiming their values by rote because it's the current thing to do, not fully understanding the real value of values.

The first thing that helped open my eyes was reading the book Fierce Conversations. Author, Susan Scott explained that when your values and the way you live are not in alignment, you experience an integrity gap.  If your behavior contradicts your values, your body knows and will actually be affected on a cellular level.  You can become depressed, angry and prone to disease.  You will feel out of kilter, experiencing  emotional, spiritual and even physical discomfort. Your immune system can actually be weakened when your are not living out your values and you can be more prone to illness.
Much like the body, when the employees or members of organizations and companies are not living out the values of the place where they spend 1/3 of their time, their lives and the organization suffer.

The second thing that convinced me of how important it is to live out our values is what happened at Penn State.  I've heard over and over how much Penn Stare values moral character.  But the leadership's walk didn't match their values when they chose guarding their reputation over doing the right thing.  They chose to look the other way and sweep the ugliness under the rug instead of making the hard decision to turn in a fellow coach and face the scrutiny of NCAA investigators and image police.  The leadership was "out of integrity" and it certainly hurt them and lots of others because the leaders didn't live out their stated values of integrity and character.
Understanding the importance of living in alignment with your values puts a whole new light on the value thing for me. And if values are this critical then as a leader of my family, a company, organization or church, I must:
  • Identify just what is important.
  • Communicate the values effectively, 
  • Hire people that align with your values. (companies)
  • Encourage my employees, members, family to live them out. (celebrate and reward)
  • Model them myself.   
Take an integrity gap checkup.  What are your values? Ask yourself how well does my life life actually match my values?  If there is a gap between your values and your lifestyle, you are out of integrity.

I am successful to the degree that who I am,
who God wants me to be,
and what I live
are in alignment.

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