Three values important to you

This is not easy to write. And I am not entirely sure why.

One reason could be the deceptive levity of the word ‘values’ compared to the depth of influence the word has in our world, and in our every day lives.

What, then, are values? A question that philosophers, writers, poets, politicians, creators and common folk have contemplated since the concept came to life a very, very long time ago.

Wikipedia says: personal values provide an internal reference for what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, constructive, etc. Values generate behavior [...] and provide answers to questions of why people do what they do and in what order they choose to do them.

But we don’t really need those definitions, do we. Because we inherently know what values are. We feel what they are much more clearly than we can probably describe them. Values reside in a place deep inside us. Deep inside the individual and the collective self.

I think the reason this post was not easy to write is because of the very nature of values themselves —of their deep seated place within ourselves and within in our society. And reaching into ourselves and wrapping language around what we find, can sometimes be, well, challenging.

When I put myself and a few colleagues to the task of naming three of the most important values for us, I was met with silence, smiles, pursed lips, searching eyes and groping for words. Everyone eventually came up with three, but the effort it took intrigued me. I wanted to know more.

So, I hit the streets of Barcelona on a weekend afternoon with a digital recorder wanting to hear what people’s most important values were —people I had never met, randomly chosen. The question was not easy to construct, nor was the answer easy to convey, though, interestingly, every single person I approached seemed sincere in their desire to answer, everyone took the question very seriously. The basic question I asked was this: What are three values, important to you, that you look for in others or in society?

And here is what a few people said:

So, if you were to take a moment to answer that same question, what would you say? What are three values, important to you, that you look for in others or in society?

1._____________
2._____________
3._____________

Now let’s turn to your project, organization or business. Are any of the three values you have just named clearly reflected there? In the mission statement? In the objectives? In the relationship with your public? Do they guide you in your daily management?

They could be reflected in your project in a number of different ways. Why?

Because our projects are extensions of ourselves. And our values ‘show up’ in our projects whether we plan it or not. They are inextricably related to our objectives and goals, and they are intimately related to what people identify with. Every person that reads our words, visits our organization, sees our publicity and navigates our web page understands intuitively what our personal values are. They may be explicitly stated in our mission statement or hidden silently between the lines of content or rows of products. Whether we name them out loud or not, our personal values are communicated in every stroke of the pen, in every decision and in every action.

This is why it is important to identify and consciously choose the values we communicate in our projects, the values that shape and give meaning to our particular enterprise or organization. This way we can be sure that those are the values that our public sees, feels and is inspired by. People will clearly choose to engage with our projects because of this and there will be no room for confusion or doubt.

So, I say, with a clear voice, feet firmly planted and arms extended, the vast blue sky behind me, (much like Julie Andrews singing from a mountaintop), let our values be clearly defined, infused with life, and heard!

For that, our projects are the perfect vehicle.

. . . . . . . . . . .

(Notes on audio*)

Sex, age and place of birth of people recorded: females ages 22, 20 from California, USA; males ages 25, 26, 28 from Paris, France; female age 44 from Germany

One young French man says “braver” and means to say “bravery” and another says “altruism”.

*If you understand Spanish, you may want to go to the Spanish version of this post and listen to what a different mix of people have to say.

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