It isn’t easy to maintain our bearings with everything breaking and shaking around us, but I would venture to bet that one thing is certain. Our values will prevail.
What we held dear in February 2020, we will hold dear in February 2021. And even better, our values, if they are strong, will enable us to shape the kind of future we want.
We cannot control events or circumstances, but we can control how we react to them and how we move forward through them. With that in mind, here are the values that I believe we need not more than ever.
Integrity. With upheavals comes confusion and sometimes chaos. It can be hard to discern what’s real and what’s not. That is why it is imperative (double-underscored) that leaders hold a torch to shine a light on what’s right and what’s not. Leaders must reflect on our moral compass.
Truth. The discernment of the way forward is rooted in the truth. Again, when everything is askew, it can be easy to favor the quick over the steady, the easy over the heard, and hard over the soft. The arbiter of what must be done is truth. Without truth, there is only muddle.
Humility. The future is unknown. The “new normal” may not be entirely new or entirely familiar, but it will be what it will be. Humility is a reflection of vulnerability; it is the self-giving itself permission to say, “I don’t know everything.” A leader who admits that is a leader who draws people toward her.
Reason. The ability to hold oppositional thoughts in mind is critical thinking. A leader must weigh the options using reason to discern truth and make decisions anchored within logic but rooted in love.
Courage. What is courage but an expression of bravery? A willingness to stand defiantly in service of a greater good over venality and mendacity. A courageous individual sets an example for others to be for something to achieve something better.
Humor . Is humor a value? Well, if it’s not, it should be because only by looking on the wry side of life will we be able to deal with the darkness and dread that encroaches. The release of humor is laughter. And it is laughter that affirms that we are alive. Why? Because we can look at all that’s around us and find lightness. Laughter is a release mechanism. Like letting air out of a balloon, laughter shakes the tensions and thereby relaxes us.
Grace. A gift without strings that we pass along to others, and in doing so, we help others and, in turn, help ourselves. Grace is the ability to give generously, to forgive readily, to show mercy, and to love without conditionality. Grace lubricates living.
Lest this reflection turns into a sermon, let me add that these virtues must be coupled with the business drivers that will enable us to put our people back to work cooperatively and collaboratively. Such drivers include acumen, accuracy, agility as well as accountability and responsibility.
The emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius could have been reflecting on times like ours when he wrote, “Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live it properly. What doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness.” Good words for all of us. We ponder what to leave behind and what to take with us on our journey forward.
By no means is this values list comprehensive. Feel free to add your own. Please do because it means you are thinking of what you hold dear so that you will be certain to take it with you as you shape your new normal for your team, your family and yourself.