The best methodology for making a profound change sometimes comes from where you might least expect it. Ironically, this insight can come from something that wasn’t designed to deliver the answer to your specific need. It’s when one, seemingly unrelated, simple option reveals to you a helpful hint (if not the answer) to another apparently complicated scenario. Most surprisingly, it’s hard to connect the dots because the source would never seem credible enough. While, not worthy of being the answer to such a formidable business issue, it somehow still becomes noteworthy. Especially when the insight is packaged in a formula as simple as A-B-C.

More specifically … Do-Re-Mi.

In this case, it’s especially true as a song that begins with the advice that you have to start at the very beginning. In fact, it advises that’s a very good place to start. Ironically, it seems contrary to all the advice on having a vision. Certainly different than Stephen Covey’s 2nd habit in  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People … to begin with an end in mind! Yet, it is precisely the way of identifying and living core values.

The Sound of Music introduced Do-Re-Mi as Maria’s song with a purpose. A teachable moment, you might say, with a roadmap and directions. It was simple and it started at the very beginning. Yet, it was a song that escalated into a major musical production. It was about structure and flow. Although simple in nature, it held the very seeds of complexity … of creating and supporting things more complex than itself. Its simple approach was about mastery and mastering. It didn’t advise you to begin with an end in mind … because there ultimately is no end. Just a journey.

Do-Re-Mi doesn’t use a destination. It just teaches what creates a destination. It didn’t talk about where they were going … rather it just took them there … teaching and building along the way. It was designed to evolve what would be needed. Maria sang it this way … they are the tools we use to build a song. She doesn’t show them the end “song” … but teaches them what builds it. In fact, you might say that Maria lives it by showing them … not just telling them … through a simple song about Do-Re-Mi.

That’s because Do-Re-Mi comes first. It is the only place to start. Obsession with the end will keep you from ever getting there. Do-Re-Mi doesn’t obsess about getting you “there” or getting you “anywhere.” In fact, it only takes you back to the very beginning.

Do-Re-Mi only leads you back to Doe!

Do-Re-Mi is about Do-Re-Mi. And core values are about core values. But let me be clear … they hold the potential of everything. Systemically interwoven, they create. The Do-Re-Mi’s aren’t the great thing within themselves, yet no song exists without them. Nor is any song ever better than its notes. And so it is between core values and an end measurement.

Let me put this in a practical but important perspective. I was recently talking with a leadership team. They had reached-out to me to learn more about how core values build value. Through the conversation, it became clear to me that all they really cared about was achieving a certain performance measure. Granted, a variance in this performance measure converted to a difference of thousands of dollars one way or the other. They wanted to know how I guaranteed that core values would deliver this measure. It became clear to me that they really could care less about core values … unless they knew values would deliver this performance measure. I knew they wouldn’t like the answer, but I shared it anyway. I simply said, “I’m convinced that core values are the fuel you need to get where you want to go. However, paradoxically, as long as your real focus (motive) is the performance measure rather than a commitment to living your core values, it is unlikely the core values will deliver for you … because you won’t deliver them.”

The beginning won’t get you there. It’s just a very good place to start.

Wanting the masterpiece, desiring the masterpiece, envisioning the masterpiece in the minds-eye can all serve a purpose. But, ultimately, it is the Do-Re-Me that allows it to happen … that makes it possible.

When “achieving something” or “getting something” becomes more important than the Do-Re-Mi … that “something” might be momentarily achieved. But, eventually it doesn’t sing. It goes “off-key” or becomes out-of-tune. Harmony becomes impossible. Harmony is achieved only when everyone has mastered the Do-Re-Mi. The complexity of harmony depends on the construct of the basics. It is achieved and maintained when all the components trust everyone’s commitment to the Do-Re-Mi.

This is the way of core values.

The end is only a mirage without a core. You may feel like you’re getting there … but without commitment to the Do-Re-Mi, it is only an illusion.

It’s just that simple. If you make note of the notes, you will eventually create a noteworthy harmony!

Today’s post is the featured article from the April 2014 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.