Archive for the ‘Values’ Category

worthwhileIf you’re like me, you do a lot of different things throughout the day. Some you do out of habit without thinking. Others you do because you must. Yet others you choose to do because you find great joy, comfort or satisfaction in them. Then there are some moments that happen unexpectedly because of what others do that affect you.

As I reflect on what tends to bring the greatest satisfaction to my days, it is usually the smaller, simpler moments – unplanned, unexpected and serendipitous – that are more meaningful. Most of our days, though, are focused on the big, time-consuming aspects of work or other ongoing, major responsibilities. If we aren’t careful, we may miss the smaller and potentially more significant moments.

For example, here are some moments that have made a few of my recent days meaningful and memorable:

  • My 2.5-year-old granddaughter feeding me a tiny piece of a French fry she dipped in ketchup;
  • Getting an email from a colleague saying that my blog post on reconciliation motivated him to take action to repair a relationship with a family member;
  • Hearing a funny story from my Dad on the phone;
  • Being told by a colleague in the midst of changing jobs that another recent blog post about taking chances helped her in the days surrounding that change.

As I look at the above list, none of the meaningful moments directly deal with the work I spend 10 hours a day performing. None are connected with anything I’m paid to do. Rather, they relate to relationships and/or making a positive difference in the lives of others. I didn’t plan any of them – they all happened at the initiative of someone else. I may have played some role in the chain of events that led to the moments, but the meaningful moments themselves were handed to me by others.

My fear is this – that I will be so consumed some days with the big blocks of time-consuming, planned activities that I either don’t allow time for the simple, meaningful moments like those above, or that in my rush of activity I will miss them.

A reminder to myself and anyone else who may need to hear it: make room and time in your life for what brings meaning to your days. Remember that success as the world defines it and true significance may be (and probably are) very different realities.

Know what makes your days worthwhile.

GlassesI want to say “thank you” to some mystery person at the Kentucky State Fair today for doing the simple, right thing.  I have no idea who it was or anything about this person other than that it was a female.

Here is what happened…

I enjoyed a morning at the fair in Louisville with my parents who drove up today from Winchester, KY.  After we walked through the many exhibits, it was time to eat some of that famous fair food.  Dad and I each had donut burgers (burgers that use Krispy Kreme donuts for the bun) and Mom had a chicken pita.  I followed the donut burger with a jalapeno corn dog just because I can.  (Hey, it’s the fair.  Don’t judge.)  We sat on a bench to eat and I, of course, had to take a picture of Mom and Dad with their food.  Dad removed his eyeglasses and sat them on the bench while I took the photo.

Fast forward about 30 minutes and Dad realized when we were nearly home that he had left his glasses on that bench.  He didn’t want to go back and see if they were still there, so we went on to my house from where Mom and Dad then headed back to Winchester.  Of course, there was no way I was going to stay home and not try to get Dad’s glasses, so I returned to the fair.

I went first to the bench where we ate, but the glasses weren’t there.  An information booth was nearby, so I asked the lady there about them in hopes that some kind soul took a few steps out of his or her way and turned them in.  Fortunately, the lady had been given the glasses by some other woman, and then the information booth lady turned them in to the security office nearby.  She pointed me in the direction of that office and a couple of minutes later I had the glasses in hand.  (Then I got a cherry funnel cake, but that’s another story.  I said, don’t judge.)  I tried to offer the kind lady at the information booth a reward, but she wouldn’t take it.

So I was soon on my way home again, thankful that some mystery lady had taken a little effort to do something kind for someone she didn’t know in hopes that a pair of eyeglasses and their owner would somehow reunite.

I wonder what went through that lady’s mind when she saw the glasses on the bench?  I suppose a few options quickly presented themselves:

  • Leave them there in hopes that the person who lost them would come back and find them.
  • Take them for herself.
  • Throw them away (I know that’s a strange thought, but a trash can was within reach of the bench and some people are just plain mean.)
  • Turn them in to someone official.

Fortunately, she did the simple, right thing and turned them in.

Doing the right thing isn’t always simple, of course.  She could have been in some far off corner of the fair nowhere close to an information booth, making the decision much harder.  The glasses could have been found in an animal stall half covered in manure, making the decision to handle them much tougher.  She could have needed a pair of glasses herself and discovered that the prescription was perfect for what she needed, choosing to keep them while thinking “Finders keepers, losers weepers.”  If doing the right thing is simple, though – a few extra steps, some simple action, a little time, a phone call or a few words spoken – then the cost to the individual is minimal and the reward can be great.

Of course, we ought to do the right thing, whether it’s simple or not.  I believe most of us know right from wrong.  We have God-given consciences according to Romans 2.  Those consciences kick in regardless of education, religion, or other factors unless, of course, we have violated that still, small voice so many times that we no longer even hear it, much less let it guide us.  In a world where people can kill others for the fun of it as we heard this week regarding some conscience-seared teens in Oklahoma, it’s refreshing to be on the receiving end of someone doing something nice for a stranger.

Thank you, mystery fair goer, who turned in the glasses.  Thank you, information booth lady, who gave them to security.  Thank you, security, who gave them to me.

May each of us be that person for someone else daily by making the conscious choice of doing the simple (or not-so-simple), right thing.

Corporate ValuesHow do you make work-related decisions?  Do you fly by the seat of your pants and do what seems expedient at the moment?  Do you go down the easiest path?  the hardest one?  Do you do what you think will get you the most attention, glory and upward mobility in the organization?  Do you have some clear goals, objectives and strategy in mind by which you evaluate the pros and cons of options?

There are many processes and criteria people can use to make decisions at work.  Some are more noble than others.  Some are more effective than others.  I’d like to share with you some thoughts about values-based decision-making that stems from some discussions and communications at my company about our corporate values.

Recently, five simple values were presented by senior leadership to all associates.  To be more accurate, many associates at all levels were involved in the process that resulted in the set of values, but the final communication about them to everyone came, naturally, from top leadership.  I’m very impressed by them, and especially by their clarity and simplicity:

  • Inspire Health
  • Cultivate Uniqueness
  • Rethink Routine
  • Pioneer Simplicity
  • Thrive Together

Nearly all companies of any significant size have a variety of statements they tout from mission statements to purpose statements and value propositions and guiding principles and mottos and blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum.  I never was able to figure out the difference in all of those types of statements.  Too often they sounded like corporate-speak mumbo-jumbo that nobody outside the little cocooned offices that unveiled them really cared about.  So it was with a slight bit of skepticism that I listened to and read communications from our leaders and others about newly defined values.  Was this just the corporate-speak du jour spawned by a change in leadership, or was it more substantive than that?

I’m glad to say I think it’s substantive.  Yes, promotion of the values is being championed by our new CEO, but he believes in them, speaks often and convincingly about them, practices them, and expects others to do so as well, all of which is very encouraging.  The five values are simple, easy to remember and communicate, and something the average employee can buy into, keeping them in mind as we do our work and as we make decisions about what we do and how we do it.

For example, one cause I’m championing right now at work is opening up our internal social network to allow all employees to use the vendor’s excellent mobile apps on their personal mobile devices so that anyone can access the network simply, quickly, and effectively from anywhere, anytime, without losing any functionality they expect from the app.  That isn’t possible currently because of security measures and access processes in place.  Some clunky and inadequate workarounds make the current mobile experience so dreadful that nobody uses them.  Consequently, leaders and others on the go rarely participate due in part to the lack of mobile access.

Looking at the five values above, I have to consider the “pioneer simplicity” value when looking at possible solutions to this matter.  Do the current workarounds pioneer simplicity?  No.  They take complexity and user-unfriendliness to extremes.

What would happen if the stakeholders involved with coming up with a solution sat around a table with each of them buying into the idea of pioneering simplicity?  I am confident we could reach a solution that meets the security needs of the enterprise while maintaining the simplicity, user-friendliness and full functionality demanded by those who use the internal social network.  As we have future calls and meetings about the matter, you can rest assured that I will, if needed, respond to suggestions of complicated solutions with the legitimate question, “How does that mesh with the corporate value of pioneering simplicity?”

And that is where the beauty of having clear, simple corporate values can come into play for the average employee.  If I challenge a complex solution, it isn’t because I’m being a grumpy old man or I have some personal vendetta against others involved.  It is because I believe in the value of pioneering simplicity, and I think living and making decisions accordingly is in the best interests of the company, its employees, and ultimately its customers and stockholders.

As individuals, we have deeply-held personal values that are inseparable from decisions we make in our personal lives.  Such values are what guide us day by day in decisions big and small.  So why should we not also have a few simple, important values undergirding our business decisions?  I think we should.  I’m willing to adopt and promote the five values above as appropriate for my company.  Your organization’s values will likely be different and in accordance with its unique purpose.

Do you know your organization’s values?  Do you agree with them?  Do you consider them when making decisions?

Life Matters

Posted: January 23, 2013 in Values
Tags: , , ,

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the U. S. Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion on demand.  Since that fateful day, over 55 million unborn children have had their lives snuffed out prematurely –  55 million!  That is nine times the number of Jews murdered during the Holocaust in World War II.  We rightly despise what happened to the Jews then, yet we turn our heads at nine times that number murdered to date in our own country.  That is more than 3000 deaths per day every day of the year.  Every second of every day another 2-3 innocent lives are willfully taken.  The terrorist attacks on the U. S. on September 11, 2001 killed fewer than are killed every day in America through abortion. Take a few minutes and watch the video below to see just how large the number 55 million is compared to the population of the United States.

This is unthinkable in a so-called “civilized” society.  It is unimaginable for a people who claim to care about children.  It is the ultimate hypocrisy for a president who surrounds himself with children while signing gun control legislation, saying “If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try,” and who yet supports every pro-abortion initiative that presents itself.  He may take an oath of office with his hand on two Bibles, but he scoffs at its teachings and wags his finger at the face of God who is its author by supporting legislation and funding that kills innocent children made in God’s image.

I unapologetically believe abortion to be the greatest sin and crime of our time.  The fact that it is legal does not mean that it is morally right – not by a long shot.  It is against natural law, against God’s law, and against any reasonable sense of human morality and decency.  It can only be defended by those who choose to blind themselves to the obvious truth that human life is in that womb.

I do not understand how anyone – male or female – can come to the conclusion that what is growing in the womb is mere fetal tissue when it has a beating heart and will indisputably result in a precious child in a matter of months.  I do not understand how anyone can claim they value choice and yet murder the most innocent and dependent of victims who obviously have no choice in the matter.  Apparently, the only real choice they care about is their own.  I do not understand a society that sits by and allows 1.2 million such deaths per year, and I sure don’t understand Christians and churches who ignore this annual holocaust.  For that matter, I don’t understand how anyone, regardless of faith, can allow it.

Others brighter and calmer than me have written articles and books that attempt to avoid emotionally charged language.  If you want to read those, then I invite you to explore the resources linked at the end of this post.  I do not believe, however, that it is always the right and necessary path to strip emotion from issues, especially when it is the deliberate murder of 55 million children we’re talking about.  We should be angry about that!  We should be emotional about that!  God help us if we are not!

Those who fail to take a stand against evil are complicit in its occurrence.  I will fight against this tragedy in word and deed and I plead with other like-minded individuals to do the same.  For many years I have taken with me into the voting booth resources from the Kentucky Right to Life Association – an affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee – to help guide voting decisions.  I have given away hundreds of copies of Randy Alcorn’s book Why Pro-Life?  I will donate time and talents and money to the cause.  The selfishness, irresponsibility and decadent, godless immorality that promotes and encourages abortions must be confronted with every ounce of strength and with every resource available from those who genuinely care about children and their unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

When will those who mourn at the loss of whales, seals, spotted owls and the tiniest of animal and plant species similarly mourn for the loss of young children who are of infinitely greater worth than any other species or part of nature?  When will society realize that one’s control over one’s own body does not extend to killing the innocent life of another?  When will the false rationalizations of removing “unwanted” children give way to the realization that through adoption those very wanted children can be placed in the loving arms of parents eager to adopt them?  What will it take for some to see the horror?  Will abortionists have to start using guns in their killing in order for some to object?  When will Christians and churches and other concerned individuals take action to intervene in the lives of scared, frightened women unsure of which path to take, counseling them and nurturing them and guiding them down a redemptive path that does not result in the death of a child and in the woman’s own emotional scarring for life?

How long will Americans tolerate hundreds of millions of tax dollars annually going to organizations like Planned Parenthood, the number one source of abortions in the country with about one million deaths to its shame in just the past three years?  How long will we buy the lie that those funds do not contribute to abortions when the primary service they provide is abortion and not other services such as contraceptive distribution and breast exams?  How long will we overlook the racist history of this organization’s founder Margaret Sanger and the long, dark shadows of that past that still reach to the disproportionate quantity of inner city locations with predominantly minority populations, contributing to the grotesque disproportion of minority abortions compared to white abortions?

In any abortion discussion, some are quick to try to carve out exceptions to opposition, so let me briefly address these.  Some may ask, “What about in cases of rape, incest, deformity, or to save the life of the mother?”  For me, it is inexcusable to punish a child by death for the sins of it’s parent, so I do not buy the rape or incest exceptions as valid.  In such cases, adoption is preferred if the parents do not want to keep the child.  In no instance should a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome or other abnormalities be cause to squelch a life that may result in great blessing and joy and learning for many.  In the unfortunate circumstance that multiple qualified medical doctors agree that carrying a child to term is very likely to endanger the life of the mother, then I leave that decision in the hands of that mother and father to do as they see fit, understanding that they may with great mourning decide to assure the life of the mother by aborting the child.  Still, even in that circumstance, some remarkable parents have risked their own lives for the sake of the child.

This issue has polarized the country for four decades and will likely continue.  Somehow, in the midst of the extreme emotions present on both sides of the issue, we must promote education and basic morality.  We must do so in decent and honorable ways, showing genuine compassion for those who disagree, but never forgetting our role as advocate for those silent voices who cannot speak for themselves.  We must work tirelessly for the cause and for the yet unborn.  We must let the many millions around us who have had abortions know that what they have done in the past is not an unpardonable sin, but that it can be forgiven by a God who loves them and who tells them in response to repentance and faith “go and sin no more.”

For those who have not followed the story of the original “Jane Roe” of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, her real name is Norma McCorvey.  Over twenty years after the court decision, she became a Christian and wrote in her 1998 book Won by Love the following: “It’s as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth — that’s a baby!  I felt crushed under the truth of this realization.  I had to face up to the awful reality.  Abortion wasn’t about ‘products of conception’.  It wasn’t about ‘missed periods’.  It was about children being killed in their mother’s wombs.  All those years I was wrong.  Signing that affidavit, I was wrong.  Working in an abortion clinic, I was wrong.  No more of this first trimester, second trimester, third trimester stuff.  Abortion — at any point — was wrong.  It was so clear.  Painfully clear.

People disagree on this issue because they give priority to different sets of values.  They live by conflicting absolutes.  My hope and prayer and what I will work toward is the day when more will give highest priority to that most basic value of all – the gift of and right to life.

For further reading (far less emotional than my comments above), please, please, for the sake of 55 million children and counting, read, view and explore the following:

I suspect that many of us prefer to live in a world where the majority of others agrees with us on significant matters.  Unless you’re unusually driven by conflict and controversy, you have a strong affinity for those who are a lot like you.  That’s understandable.  It’s a fact of basic human nature even if not politically correct.

One of the frequently discussed aspects of Tuesday’s election exit polls is the changing demographic of the American voting population.  It’s less white than it used to be.  It’s less religious than it used to be.  It’s less conservative as well.  That would appear to be a trend that doesn’t bode well for the future voting success of someone with the philosophical leanings of this white, conservative Christian.

America believes strongly in the idea of majority rule, although we go out of our way to make exceptions to that when we want to protect the interests of minority groups.  We say we believe in diversity, yet we tend to limit that appreciation to categories of physical, ethnic and sexual differences rather than diversity of thought and values which are not tolerated well by those on either side of the aisle.

If we learn much from Tuesday’s election, we at least learn this isn’t your parents’ America any more.  It may or may not be the America you want it to be.

As I reflect on the election, I come back to the simple thought that I can’t expect people who do not share my beliefs and values to think and act (and vote) the same way I do.  To expect otherwise is foolish.  If a majority are not conservative, then I can’t expect conservative positions and candidates to prevail.  If a majority are not Christian, then I shouldn’t be surprised when the results are at odds with traditional, biblical Christianity.

It is pointless to fret or fume over what I believe is my new minority status.  It is what it is and I will be who I am and I will stand for what I believe regardless of the consequences.

Therefore, leap year lesson #310 is Don’t expect those with different values to be or act like you.