Values are actions, not ideas...

Posted 27-09-2007
One of my colleagues told me that many mornings, just as he left for work, he would vomit. It was a classic case of someone's core values being at odds with the values of their job. There is always some conflict when we are employed; life is not easy, and issues are rarely clear cut. If it's like that at home, why would it be different at work?

I'm not talking about the difficulty of a job, but the values attached to a job. My colleague was in a difficult job. He was in the billing complaints department. That is difficult country, by definition. The problem was the total lack of sympathy with clients, and the complete refusal of any compromise, which was required by the employer. He was there to get the money, anyway possible. In the end, he left.

If we seek to run a business that is at odds with our core values, or work for a business at odds with our core values, we cannot be happy. We will always be in tension with our inner self. We will be in a constant state of moral conflict. But it will not remain static. Water always runs downhill, pressure between two points always seeks to equalise. In conflict situations we always seek to reduce our pressure, too. Where we are at odds with the values around us, we change the business, or the business will change us. It may not be obvious, and it may not feel better, but over time we will find that we have changed something, or been changed. If we have not changed the values of what is around us, we will likely have become inured, jaded, or just plain 'used to' what once troubled us.

Values are not something static that we can pay lip service. They need rehearsal by living them out. What we do today is a practice for what we do tomorrow. And tomorrow we will do it a little easier.

We would laugh at someone who claimed to be an atheist but religiously followed their stars everyday. We are not what we claim to be, we are what we do.

It is true that we are always compromised; it is part of the human condition. But we can aspire to values beyond where we are now, and if we act them out- if we move towards them- practise will make better. If our job or our business plan requires us to deny our valves, and we capitulate, practise will not make perfect. Instead, we will become someone else.

If we never think about our valves then we are controlled by our job, and do not know who we are.


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