Values are not things

The values you’ve declared for your organisation are not things that you can put on your wall, or lock away in a safe. You don’t have them, and you can’t own them.

You can’t even, in all truthfulness, say ‘these are our values’. Because values are, more accurately, works-in-progress, ongoing commitments to something that can never be completed.

You don’t have fairness, dignity, compassion, justice, creativity, honesty or service. You bring them about, most importantly when they’re least in evidence, when they’re most challenged, when they’re most called most into question by the complexities and compromises of life. And in each moment of action they are already in the midst of disappearing again.

When you relate to values as things they become things. The objects of lip-service. Inert, lifeless, hardly practiced.

Remember instead that values are a state of affairs that you’re actively working to bring about. Then they’ll have a chance of remaining alive in your hands.

Photo Credit: charlesdyer via Compfight cc

4 thoughts on “Values are not things

  1. Values are notions that we live by that theoretically, guide our actions. Although, you and I know very well that isn’t always the case. Most times we are guided by impulses, immediate rewards, and group-think. Values require constant reflection and conscious integration so that they are our natural reactions.

    Thanks for the thoughtful reflection.

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