Core Values

I am very blessed to work for a company that truly has it’s priorities in the right place.

In a bad economy, most organizations are focused on:

“What can we do to improve the bottom line?”

Where I work, they are focused on:

“What can we do to elevate our employees?”

As a result of this mentality, I get the opportunity to participate in multiple leadership development workshops and training sessions every month. On a weekly basis, the various front-end departments come together to collaborate and align on coaching practices, leadership tactics, and strategies to use to help develop and motivate employees you serve.

While I enjoy these sessions, my favorite event that we host is actually a monthly, front-end development session focused on the mindset behind leadership versus the practical techniques.

For example, our session last week focused on core values.

What exactly are core values?

Core values are the fundamental beliefs and practices that dictate how we act and how we behave in the world around us. They are the values that shape our decisions and the measure by which we judge our own life choices.

Core values define the person you want to be, that you strive to be, and the person that you HOPE the world around you sees when they look at you.

I’ve never really sat down and determined if I had core values. I’ve just kind of… lived. I have my code of ethics, my “standard operating procedure” for life, and my personal inclination towards certain decisions, but I’ve never understood how or why that is.

It was just me.

How did I figure out what my core values were?

We went through a series of exercises to determine what’s important to us and what factors contribute to our life’s decisions.

After breaking up into groups of 4 or 5 [acquaintances, not close friends], we were first set to the task of determining what FOUR people we would want as our own personal “advisory committee” for our life decisions. They could be alive or dead, celebrity or commonplace, fictional or real as rain – there were no restrictions. I could chose whomever I wanted to advocate and advice me for the future.

So, who did I pick?

  • My father, who passed away in October 2006.
  • The female CFO of my company.
  • My best friend, Delonna Ramoutar.
  • Jack Kerouac, the deceased author of On the Road and Dharma Bums, two of my favorite books.

In the next exercise, we were asked to describe, using 5-6 adjectives, WHY we chose these people.

My Father:

  • Intelligent
  • Hard-working
  • Compassionate
  • Perserverant
  • Passionate

The Female CFO:

  • Intelligent
  • Tenacious
  • Beautiful
  • Strong
  • Empathetic

My Best Friend:

  • Intelligent
  • Passionate
  • Kind
  • Loving
  • Tenacious

Jack Kerouac:

  • Intelligent
  • Passionate
  • Never-satisfied
  • Desirous of life
  • Observant

Once we had these laid out, we were told to circle the adjectives that seemed to repeat themselves among our four chosen advisers.

As you can see, the same qualities pretty much stood out for everyone on my list.

Passion, intelligence, and a balance of love and compassion.

In the next exercise, we were told to choose six adjectives that we felt represented our core values now that we had a chance to see what we valued in others.

Then, we had to shave the list down to three.

Then to one.

That final word, which I will reveal in a moment, became our “name” for the day – quite literally, we wrote it out on name tags and had to go around the room and introduce ourselves by that word for the remainder of the session.

So, what was my word?

Hello, my name is…

TENACITY.

I have to admit, most people gave me a funny look when they realized that my core value, the concept that drives my life and my decisions, is tenacity.

“Isn’t that a bad thing?”

Yeah, someone asked that.

Let me explain what tenacity means to me.

Tenacity is the passionate and enthusiastic pursuit of everything: of emotions, of success, of failure, of friendship, of enemies, of life itself. To be tenacious is to be hungry, always hungry, for what life has to throw at you. To be tenacious, you must be strong-willed, passionate, and optimistic.

Pessimistic people are rarely tenacious – they stop trying once they feel that life has shut them down.

The word tenacity describes everything that is important to me in life. A good attitude. A hunger for learning. A value for intelligence, hard work, and for zeal in anything you do.

My core value in life is tenacity. It’s what drives me, it is what I aspire to be, and it is what I hope people see when they look at me. Jack Kerouac, the author I mentioned above, has a well-known quote that I feel captures my belief in the power [and beauty] of tenacity far better than I can:

β€œthe only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road.

The author I aspire to be - Jack Kerouac.

The author I aspire to be – Jack Kerouac. Image source: http://www.twitter.com/Jack__Kerouac

So, yeah.

My core value is tenacity.

What’s yours?

Optimistic you’ll find your answer,

~ Victoria Elizabeth

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