In today’s supercharged world of Vision, Mission and Value Statements, it can be difficult to ascertain what a person or small businesses’ real beliefs are. Let’s face it; every company has a vested interest in sharing positive-sounding core beliefs in an effort to connect with their target clients. I find that nowadays, many favorable attributes are being misrepresented as values.
As most of you reading this article are small business owners, you are your business and as such, you are the primary one to set, share and show your company’s values.It’s easy to write what we’d like to aspire to —being honest, ethical, compassionate, and client-focused —but writing them and doing them, especially when nobody is watching, are two entirely different things.
Two Recent Reminders of Telling vs. Showing
I love sharing personal stories, so I hope you’ll indulge me for just a few minutes. The first example occurred just a couple of weeks ago. Early for my meditation group, I stood alone at a window watching a young man throwing a ball to his dog. He was standing in a small park from which he threw the ball into an unoccupied tennis court. Where we were situated would not be what you’d call the “best area of town.” As well, the dog appeared to be a Rottweiler or Pit Bull. As an unabashed animal lover, I had this nagging feeling that this young man might be cruel to his pet. I prayed that I was wrong. So I watched, hidden from sight. Not only did he love this dog but the dog clearly loved him. Even when the enthusiastic canine wouldn’t bring the ball back to him, and the man had to go take it from the dog, his gestures were full of love, patience and compassion. His values remained constant when nobody was watching.
My second example is a little closer to home — in my home to be exact. Recently, we had a fellow staying with us who had been here before but only with his wife. We thoroughly enjoyed his company on his previous visit but we were somewhat shocked to observe that he conducted himself quite differently in our home, in his wife’s absence (notice how non-judgmentally I worded that). He was like a completely different person and it left us flummoxed to say the least. His values changed when (someone in particular) wasn’t watching!
The Litmus Test of Your Values
Many of us believe that you have to have integrity, honesty, trust and respect in order to be successful. And of course, we’d each like to believe that we possess these qualities. But do we always?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does your honesty and integrity stay constant when you are between a rock and a hard place, financially?
- When you gossip about someone or spread news that you don’t know to be true, are you exhibiting trust?
- When you listen to another person with a mental agenda of how you can gear what they’re saying to what you offer, are you showing respect and compassion?
- When you are caught in a lie or a big error in judgment and look for someone to blame, are you being honest and transparent?
Please, this is not intended to be a lecture. Quite the contrary; as I write this I’m reminded of times when I would have to question my own values and commit to being more worthy of integrity, honesty, trust and respect on a consistent basis.
Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept It
1. Have some fun and figure out what your values are.
An exercise that my former coaching clients loved doing is one designed by Sophfronia Scott, Executive Editor of The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. Here is her website link where you can download her Values Exercise: http://www.doneforyouwriting.com/valuesguide.html
2. Become both the observer and the observed.
Catch yourself in daily habits that you do alone but wouldn’t do if someone was watching. Are you okay with the contradiction? If you are, that’s great. But if you’re pouring yourself one too many glasses of wine, raiding the fridge at night (been there, done that!) or acted in a manner that is quite different than when you’re in the presence of your beloved (or your clients), it might be time to have a little chat with yourself.
3. Be gentle with yourself.
Nobody expects you to be perfect (well, they shouldn’t!). As with anything, it’s about being mindful and turning challenges into opportunities to grow and to be better partners, mothers, friends and businesswomen.
Until next time, remember to be authentically YOU and be mindful of matching your actions to your values – when nobody’s watching!