My core values are essential to me. Writing about them has brought clarity to how I approach life. My six core values are compassion, creativity, humility, wisdom, joy, and excellence. I will define them, explain why they are important to me, and measure whether my core values align with my current actions and behaviors.
My Core Values Defined
Here is how I would define each of them.
Compassion is an expression of kindness. It is giving others the same kindness that God has extended to me. It is based on the conviction that, If everyone has value to God, I should value everyone I meet.
Creativity is having a vision of how things could be and giving tangible expression to these ideas and concepts.
Humility is seeing my value to myself, others, and God correctly.
Wisdom is strategic thinking. It is the ability to see alternative ways of approaching a problem. To see potential solutions and obstacles and then acting on that information.
Joy is the moment-by-moment decision to laugh at oneself and life’s circumstances with a view toward a better tomorrow.
Excellence is giving your best effort at everything you do, at all times, and in all circumstances. Some would refer to this as a good work ethic.
My Core Values are Important because…
I saw these values in action in my role models. I wanted to be like them. I spoke about role models generically previously. Today I will give some specific examples of how my role models impacted my core values.
Dr. Fred White was my faculty advisor in college. He was a humble man. He was a man of accomplishments who gave God the glory. He thought rightly about himself. He did not diminish his own self-worth. He understood that all men were created in the image of God and were of infinite value. He was a strategic thinker and problem solver who would never let us forget that people were more important than any project. He was witty, intelligent, and had a self-deprecating sense of humor. He was a compassionate advocate for me my entire life.
My father was a gifted and creative communicator. He wrote poetry. He understood and utilized the power of the story. He exerted influence. Dad once told me that people’s attention spans we’re about 20 minutes. Then, he led a week-long revival where he preached 40 minutes every night and captivated the audience. Dad had a strong work ethic and would not tolerate laziness. Dad had an incredible sense of humor, and it permeated every conversation. He loved to make people smile.
Most people I know would describe my mom as one of the most loving people they have ever met. My mom is a compassionate advocate. But it wasn’t always that way. She was greatly influenced by the change she saw in the husband of a dear friend. This husband had been obnoxious and rude to his wife. But he had changed. He became compassionate and respectful to his wife. Mom decided that she wanted to be more loving and pursued this core value relentlessly. So I learned that core values could be changed.
Two athletes, Arthur Ashe and Rayfield Wright, had a lasting impact on me. Arthur was a compassionate advocate with a strategic vision. He spoke out against apartheid in South Africa. He also traveled to South Africa at great risk to himself. Arthur Ashe’s victory at Wimbledon over Jimmy Connors was a triumph of strategy. He outplayed Connors. But he also outsmarted Connors by playing a clay court style of tennis on the grass courts of Wimbledon.
Rayfield Wright was an offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s. I met him when I was about seven years old. This giant of a man was humble, kind, and winsome. He didn’t brag about himself. Instead, he emphasized working as a team. He didn’t verbally challenge racism. But his kindness to me spoke louder than words and broke down walls of prejudice. His actions led me to seek out friendships not bound by race, and my life is so much richer for it. I cried when he finally was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Core Values were important to my role models. I want to be like them. I still see a need for these values today. This world needs compassion, creativity, humility, wisdom, joy, excellence, and so do I.
My Core Values – are they in Alignment with my actions and behaviors?
It was about six months ago that I began to develop and rewrite my core values. Recently I began to evaluate my progress in each area. Here are some examples of my thought process.
Compassion is my strongest core value. I believe that showing compassion to everyone is very important. Everyone includes strangers, those closest to me, and myself.
I am very conscious of how I interact with strangers. I want to demonstrate the same unconditional love and acceptance to them that I have received. I am striving to become a compassionate advocate for others.
But sometimes, I am not compassionate with the ones who are closest to me. Instead, I can be coldhearted, blunt, and impatient. When this happens, my conscience bothers me, and I am driven to seek the other person’s forgiveness. It takes priority over everything.
I sometimes forget to extend compassion to myself. However, I understand that I have not received it if I cannot extend compassion to others.
Creativity is important to me. But outside of the blog, what am I doing to value creativity? How is my value of creativity demonstrated with others? Do I celebrate the creativity I see in others? For example, creatively worshiping God at the piano always leaves me fulfilled. But I haven’t played in months. I need to take corrective steps and schedule a time to play.
Humility. I struggle to navigate the extremes of worthlessness and pride. I have days when I feel worthless. I am aware of my failures and question my inherent value. I have other days where I think God really got a good deal when he chose me to follow him. (That last sentence was painful to write.) I can claim false humility and not take action to use the gifts that God gave me.
Wisdom/Strategic Thinking. I am building mentoring relationships with others. I need to be conscious not to overbook my schedule. I need to pursue vocational opportunities that let me express my core values and strengths.
Joy. I am making a conscious decision to smile every day. To find one thing that will make me laugh. I noticed that I had become too task-focused and was not being present at the moment. Writing in a daily journal helps me to keep the right attitude and perspective.
Excellence. I am working at being the best blogger, husband, tennis player, and potential employee that I can be. However, I recognize the danger of procrastination in the pursuit of perfection.
I hope this was helpful to you in examining your own core values. Here is an additional resource—a talk by Andy Stanley on the importance of discovering what you value.
Would you consider taking time for an inventory of your core values? What are your six core values, the ones that you cannot abandon? How do you define them? Why are they important to you?
Once you have answered these questions, copy the results in a calendar appointment six months into the future. In six months, ask yourself about your progress in each area. Are your core values reflected in your priorities and actions? Then rinse and repeat.
Until next week.