A follower on Twitter recently asked me to clarify my bio. Since my bio says I’m interested in “applying Christian principles in business,” he wanted to know what biblical principles I applied in business. In effect, he was asking what I value. I couldn’t get it in 140 characters. In fact, I’m still working on it.
Can you articulate what’s important to you? What do you value? What do you appreciate?
In the Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, the authors state that “to stand up for your beliefs, you have to know what you stand for.” The things you stand for are your values. The more clear your values, the easier it will be for people to associate with you, or follow you.
Some values are close to you personally. I used to be in the transportation industry. Serving as the General Manager of a branch office of an over-the-road trucking company, I learned to appreciate truck drivers and what they had to endure to earn a living. Since they’re paid by the mile, any time they’re not moving, they’re not being paid. Therefore everything that happens costs them money. That includes traffic problems, weather problems, communication problems and a host of other issues. The very people who labor to provide the vast majority of goods we buy every day do a very hard job in a nation that doesn’t appreciate them. Much like teachers, it seems like those on whom we depend the most, we reward the least. As a result, I grew to appreciate and value people who commit their life to the success of a company. People who do a good job no matter what are important to me. I like helping people who line their life up in support of a company. Some companies aren’t worth it. However, I value people who do a good job no matter what. I don’t know teachers as well as truck drivers, but I’m sure they are much the same. Professional over-the-road truck drivers are the backbone of our economy.
Later Kouzes and Pozner also state that you have to know what grabs you. In Holy Discontent, Bill Hybels called that your Popeye moment. You may be too young to remember Popeye. Popeye the sailor man, was a cartoon character with a bully for an acquaintance and a slender vixen for a girlfriend. Eventually in every episode, Popeye would get to the point where he couldn’t take the abuse by Brutus the bully any longer. He would exclaim, “That’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more!” Then he would down a can of spinach and clean house. Hybels stated that leaders see something, realize they can’t stand it any more and they do something. For me, that’s making a positive difference. I can try to make a positive difference every day. I don’t have to fix everyone, just me. We all get tempted to be swept away by our own desires and greed. But I choose to resist the pull of selfishness (however poorly). Back in the mid 1980’s I was a member of the Jaycees. The last line of their creed reads: “Service to humanity is the best work of life.” We always said it with emphasis on the word “is.” I quoted Fred Smith Sr. the other day on Twitter. He said that service was the rent he paid for the space he took on this earth. And Zig Ziglar has a famous quote as well that states that you can have anything you want if you’re willing to help enough people get what they want. In the Bible, Jesus said if we give a child a cup of cold water in His name, we will be rewarded. Jesus values service to others so I choose to value service to others.
I value helping people improve their life through their job.
I’m sure I have other values and I will continue to work on defining and refining them. Once you’ve defined your values and can articulate them, people that share the same values will draw near to you and possibly join your team. And, because you value the same things they do, you’ll support them, rather than directing or micro-managing them. Shared values become the glue of teams. Goals alone won’t do. Values keep the team together, focused and helping one another become better versions of themselves.
So, what grabs you? What are your values? I really would like to know. Care to leave a comment and share them?