I’m stuck, and I doubt I’m the only one. I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead with my leadership team over the last several months. It’s full of great information and techniques for leaders, and everyone else who wants to live well. One part has me stuck, and I think it’s a place where me being stuck might give some insight to you who may also find yourself stuck. This section deals with values, and I am stuck in identifying my values. I’m stuck because Brené introduced me to a quote from Jim Collins. “If you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities.”
Google “values list”. Go ahead. You’re reading a blog. I can wait while you do that. Did you see the lists of 50 to 500 come up as options? I did. There’s a list in Dare to Lead too. I’m overwhelmed by the words and their ideas. I want them all to be my values. Well, maybe not all, but certainly more than two or three. I feel like Frodo when Bilbo told him that it was a dangerous business going out the door, because you never knew where your feet might take you. I feel the pressure to find the core values that speak to me. The things that best define me. That describe who I am at my best. The things that filter out my hard decisions. It’s work, and that’s good. It is also hard. I’m stuck, and I’m probably not the only one.
I understand cognitively what my values should be, but I will not be satisfied with anything less than what my values actually are. This means I need to set aside the judgement language of “should” to get to the core of my very being. As a pastor I feel like faith or spirituality “should” be values for me, but I don’t think they are. At least they aren’t core values. I love nature, creation, and the environment. As a parent, I want to say that family is core. It isn’t. These do not define me. Nor are they characteristic of me when I am at my very best. So what might I use to define my values? Is there a tool that can help me identify the two or maybe three?
I’d love to say, “Yes, and here it is.” I can’t. Instead I can tell you that the work I’m doing now has led me to quiet places of reflection. I am spending more time praying, more time meditating, more time reflecting, and more time listening. I’ve become curious, well more curious, about the decisions I’ve made. I can’t say that it has yielded results that are conclusive, but I can say that, for me, I’m getting a bit of clarity to this end.
The two things which seem to be my core values are Truth and Understanding. It may sound weird from a pastor because you’d think that spirituality or faith might be core values (maybe they should). For me the search for Truth is about spirituality and faith. What I believe, I believe because I think it to be true. What I believe helps me to understand myself and others as we navigate reality. This value for truth is core to who I am because it’s the filter through which I experience the world.
If truth is core to my quest, it is core because of it’s partner; understanding. I’m not sure if Understanding (as a value of mine) is a subset of truth, vice-verse, or completely separate. For now, I’m treating it as separate. The interactions I have with myself and with others drive me to reflection because I want to understand. This whole blog entry is about my quest for understanding. I want to know more deeply who I am through the lens of my values. At the very core of who I am at my best is a child who stands there looking at you, asking “Why?”
Tomorrow I may think differently. Today, this is where I am at in discerning my core values. I’m stuck in this philosophical loop trying to get at the truth of who I am and understanding why that is, what that means, and how it plays out in my interactions with reality. Brené isn’t the first author to talk about how important this clarification is to a fulfilling life. Therefore I continue to work at this. I’m stuck, but I won’t be forever. I hope my rambling has invited you to begin the quest as well that we may both be set free to be whom God has created us as we live out of our core values.