Leap Year Lesson #70: Know the Values That Drive You

Posted: March 11, 2012 in Values
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Yesterday I attended a debate at the South by Southwest conference around the topic “Should Social Sites Allow Anonymous Users?” It was a very civil discourse on the subject with each of the debaters presenting her arguments, asking questions, presenting evidence (or lack thereof) to support her position.

I didn’t leave my chair in the middle of a long row to wiggle past others to get to a microphone at the end of the debate to ask this question, but what I wanted to ask was “What one or two or three underlying core values would each of you say is driving your stance on this topic?” For example, the woman who was in favor of having sites authenticate users seemed to be most concerned about there being accountability for what is said online and for having a way to help those who are harassed or bullied anonymously. So maybe her values were accountability and protection for the oppressed. The other debater seemed driven by the right of free speech and the need to protect unpopular speech, so perhaps her core values were free speech and individual protection.

It made me think about how we can spend an awful lot of time disagreeing on subjects in politics, religion, corporations and home life, but fail to take the time to clearly articulate what core values are driving us to the positions we hold dearly. It would be interesting if, for example, both of the debaters yesterday claimed individual protection as a core value, yet they were choosing how to implement it in different ways. Perhaps that could have provided some common ground to agree on some solutions rather than just assume the two sides are worlds apart and must remain that way.

Think about why you believe the way you do on controversial matters. What are the core foundational values underpinning your position? If you can articulate those in just a few words, you may be in a better position to determine where you stand on a host of issues without spending so much time bickering over more detailed arguments with those who hold opposing values.

Leap year lesson #70 is Know the values that drive you.

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