Simple Truths: Good to the Core

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Copyright © 2009 Simple Truths, LLC Published by Simple Truths, LLC 1952 McDowell Road, Suite 300 Naperville, IL 60563

All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Design: Rich Nickel Edited by: Stephanie Trannel Illustrations by: Wilkinson Studios, Inc. iStock Photos: 5, 18, 24, 28, 35, 57, 67 Getty Photos: 73, 83, 93, 107 ISBN 978-1-60810-226-6 (800) 900-3427



DEDICATION To my friend, Rick Jeffers, and his dedication to living his life based on his values. While his life was cut short, he lived it to the fullest. If a genuine smile and the ability to make others feel better about themselves were not on his list of personal core values, I would be surprised! Rick and his example of living his core values will be tremendously missed. Also dedicated to those brave souls who strive to live their core values in every breath of their life ‌ regardless of the cost.

Contents 6.............Introduction

Section One

INVESTIGATE the Value of Values

14...........Chapter 1

Applesauce ... or Not

20...........Chapter 2

Opening the Drawer

26...........Chapter 3

Knowing vs. Understanding

30...........Chapter 4

Under the Sea

36...........Chapter 5

More Than Orange Balls

40...........Chapter 6


Section Two

INDICATE Your Own Core Values

50...........Chapter 7

Pausing to Pick

54...........Chapter 8

The Formula of Why

58...........Chapter 9

Getting From Me to We

68...........Chapter 10

Finding Values in Heroic Proportions


72...........Chapter 11

Strolling Through the Orchard

74 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Row 1

Center Yourself

84 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Row 2

Own Your Work

88 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Row 3

Renew Your Spirit

94 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Row 4

Engage Your Potential

Section Three

INTEGRATE Your Values and Actions

102.........Chapter 12

One Step at a Time

108.........Chapter 13

One Final Thought

110.........About the Author


Introduction t wasn’t a life and death situation. It wasn’t going to cost him millions of dollars. And his job wasn’t on the line. But as a soccer coach with a 0-0 tie, a game against one of the top-ranked teams in the state was on the line. The referee made a call that set up the perfect free kick that could put his team in the lead with only 10 minutes to go. But he knew the ref had made a really bad call … in his favor. Instead of having his star forward slam the ball at the vulnerable goalie, he instructed her to rather softly roll the ball to the goalie so she could simply pick it up and put it back into play. Victory was certainly important to him. Just not as important as his values.



I have yet to meet anyone who would say they didn’t want to operate from a position of a solid set of values. I think most of us want to be good to the core. On the surface, the concept of values is intellectually easy to understand. And so I assumed, and maybe you do too, that most of us understand and try to live by our values. 6


An assumption can be a dangerous thing. Especially when it comes to the core. And trying to live something that at best is vague, or at worst doesn’t actually exist, is virtually impossible! I had always assumed you could give most professional adults a blank sheet of paper and ask them to write down their core values, and with minimal effort they could list them. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Very few can. My assumption that outstanding college students know their personal core values delivers similar dismal results. When you ask most professionals to write down their organization’s values … the likelihood of them listing the values correctly gets even slimmer. I am not the only one making an assumption. In fact, many of us just assume we know our values. Some will say, “I have a gut feeling about my values.” Or they might say, “I generally understand my company’s values.” I would say a “gut feeling” or a “general understanding” is a dangerous formula in a world that is moving exponentially faster each day. It is dangerous for both you and for the organization where you work. 7

When it comes to corporations, associations, universities or any other organization, the bottom-line is that values are valuable to their “bottom-line.” It impacts mission, vision, retention, service, and ultimately the very culture of the organization. Even so, many organizations are winging it! There are many examples of organizations with stated values. A subset of that group may even put great emphasis on employees knowing those values. A subset of that group might have gone so far as to create a culture that encourages (or even demands) everyone live and hold others accountable to the stated values. And a subset of that group truly measures and rewards employees based on the organization’s values. But very few organizations probe deep enough to challenge employees to introspectively discover their own values.


When personal values and organizational values align … exponential value is realized. 8


It is more challenging than it would appear to be on the surface. In leadership workshops all over the world, I have seen the stunning realization people face when they are given a blank sheet of paper and challenged to write down their own core values. What I have also seen, among very busy people, is once they begin to think about it—once their inner flame is stoked—they have a natural burning desire to reconnect to their values. They are inspired when they reconnect to their core. And it is good. Very good! My hope is this little book will challenge you to search inside.

1. To investigate the value of knowing your core values. 2. To indicate your own core values. 3. To integrate your core values into the fabric of your life.


In doing so, I hope you become an orchardist who plants seeds of your core values into the culture of your organization.


Most importantly, I hope you will be inspired to truly live your core values.


As you turn the pages of this book, my intent is to certainly challenge you, but my greater desire is to walk with you through the orchard of your mind, heart and soul on a journey back to your core. I am convinced when we arrive there, you will be exponentially more valuable. I hope you can simultaneously experience this book on two different but related perspectives. First, from a personal perspective: exploring your personal core values. In doing so, you will be more valuable to your family, your community and certainly within the organization in which you work.


Second, from an organizational perspective: thinking about the values that are the fabric of the culture in which you work. Do they exist? How well are they known? How consistently are they lived? Most importantly, my wish as you read these pages is that you experience a sense of hope, desire and confidence. Values have a way of revealing the truth. As truth would have it ‌ we build value through values. And the real truth is we can all be good to the core. Read on!


Section One

INVESTIGATE the Value of Values

Section One

INVESTIGATE the Value of Values


Applesauce ...or Not had never really thought about it. Apples are one of the fruits that have been used for numerous symbolisms.


Apples started, at the beginning of time, as the forbidden fruit on the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. Ironically, it would have taken strong values—a real core discipline—to avoid them. But man failed. Apples have been the symbol of knowledge. Ask yourself which fruit symbolizes the month of September and the start of a new school year. It’s an apple for the teacher! Apples have been an icon for good health, for an apple-a-day keeps the doctor away. And an apple also symbolizes what we cherish when we say, “You are the apple of my eye.” 14


But apples, at their very center, also stand as the backbone for values. Core values.


While growing up in the South, once in awhile I would hear someone being described as rotten to the core. It was the lowest of low in terms of character reference! Beyond behavior and beyond wants and needs, the essence of the accusation was that it was their foundation, the very middle, the deep inside core of that person that had spoiled. Their core values had become corrupt. In other words … they had rotted. Even if it was true, it was more likely an evolution rather than an intentional choice. Not many people want to intentionally rot at the core. Applesauce is mushy. I love the taste, but hate the consistency. When it comes to our core, consistency is everything. It’s the core of the apple that makes the rest of the apple all that it is. The apple core is not the “good” part. Just the most critical part. The core stands tall and holds the very seeds of the future. 15

Section One


INVESTIGATE the Value of Values

The core is at the center of everything.


And without it, there would be no apple. There’s an insightful idea that has surfaced in the lyrics of many songs from Country to Rock. These lyrics celebrate a quote that originated in 1947 from the Chaplain of the US Senate, Peter Marshall. He simply said, “If you don’t stand for something … you will fall for anything.” How often do we find people who don’t stand for anything and therefore fall for everything? How often do we look in the mirror and find ourselves confused on where we stand?






What stands tall within you?

Where are you currently vulnerable to falling?


“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.� BRIAN TRACY

Section One

INVESTIGATE the Value of Values


Opening the Drawer illiam Graham Sumner (1840-1912), a highly regarded Yale Professor, described reality quite well when he said, "I have never discarded beliefs deliberately. I left them alone in a drawer. After a while I opened it and there was nothing there." As I mentioned, I used to think it would be easy for any adult to sit and write down their core values. For ten years, I had the opportunity to co-instruct a leadership workshop in various countries around the globe. Through that experience I discovered how difficult it is for adults and students to clearly define their core values.


In the Leadership Workshop, my co-instructor taught the module that focused on core values. Consequently, it gave me a lot of time to think about what was being taught on core values and what I observed in numerous sessions. Dave Houser was my co-instructor, good friend and one 20

of the earliest mentors in my career. Dave did a terrific job of describing the concept of core values and then sent the participants away for what they thought would be an easy 90-minute exercise: to write down their core values. Over the years, we came to know the difficult nature of this assignment. The participants would confidently begin by thinking they could write forever. Most participants were surprised at the challenge they faced in finding the right words ‌ or any words. Some participants wanted us to provide a list of values so they could simply check the words that seemed to apply to them. We would laugh with them as they searched for an easy out. We never did provide that list. We wanted them to open the drawer of their heart and soul and search inside. Most didn’t like it. But as they sat down and started the hard process of genuinely searching inside, eventually they seemed to love it! There is something of a miracle that unfolds when we reconnect to the goodness of our core. I remember when I first moved away from the city 21

Section One

INVESTIGATE the Value of Values

where I grew up. After a career transfer took me away from my childhood hometown, I remember going back to visit my mom. She still lived in the home in which I was raised. I slept so soundly in that little twin bed I had slept in for thousands of nights in my youth. There seemed to be little as comforting as going home to my childhood room. I think that is what took most of these participants from discomfort and dislike to comfortably loving it:


They were returning home to the goodness of the core they were born with.





Imagine opening the drawer of your core ‌

it be dusty and look forgotten, or 1 Would would it be clean, fresh and relevant?


What do you think you would immediately see inside?


“Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed. ROBERT H. SCHULLER

Section One

INVESTIGATE the Value of Values


Knowing vs. Understanding n the surface, the concept of “core values” seems easy to comprehend. So easy that we think we understand what they are all about. The concept seems to be blindingly obvious. But maybe not.


I think, for most of us, we understand the concept of core values. But that doesn’t mean we understand our own core values. We have to be careful in what we assume … both individually and within the organization in which we work. Core values are like seeds. They must be tended and cared for to meet their full potential. They flourish when they are planted in soil that is watered, fertilized and periodically weeded. I have a friend who is diligent 26

about watering the garden of potted plants on his condo balcony. But the magic of his garden lies in his Miracle GrowÂŽ fertilizer he mixes into the water. His garden flourishes. And with a miracle mix, our personal and organizational core values can flourish as well. Values are most alive when we have specific words to describe them, and when we remain intentionally connected to them. It sounds so simple, but in reality, few of us make a practice of routinely making this connection.


It is the difference between cognitively knowing and genuinely understanding.


It is not the concept of values that is so difficult. The difficulty comes in the day-to-day world where we have to live them. We live in a world that is moving faster each day. This causes us to constantly make decisions ‌ usually very quickly.


Section One

INVESTIGATE the Value of Values

Ultimately, what is important is how our understanding translates into our decisions, actions and interactions. Our values must be lived in order for us to flourish. They are our “miracle grow.” In the end, it is the difference of living reactively vs. living intentionally. The value of values begins to exponentially increase when we are living them consciously, intentionally and concretely.

Consciously Intentionally Concretely Remember … be careful of what you assume you know. Knowledge is only a tool. I have a tool box in my basement that I haven’t touched in years! While tools hold enormous potential to build things and make broken things useful again … unused tools become rusty and useless. Unused, they lose their potential. Values are just like tools! They build value. 28




How consciously, intentionally and concretely are you connected to your own values? Do you think you are truly living your values?


How consciously,

intentionally and

concretely are you connected to the values of the organization where you work? Do you think you are living your organization’s values? Does the leadership of your organization live your organization’s values?


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