A friend of mine used to quote her grandfather as saying, “Nothing truly great happens quickly.” It’s insightful wisdom that has stayed with me for over two decades. It may also explain why most stop short or settle for less.

In a world of rapid change and an obsession for the short-term, this quote seems to run counter-cultural. When you combine this with the desire for immediate answers or “silver bullet” solutions, the essence of both patience and persistence get thrown out the window.

And so does the possibility of greatness.

I have found this particularly true when it comes to one’s exploration of their core values … whether it’s a group of leaders exploring an organization’s core values or an individual discovering their own. This process of discovery is, in fact, a trying exploration.

It’s more like taking a stagecoach, rather than a jet, to your destination.

When challenged to name our core values, many find it unsettling to simply start with a blank sheet of paper. Initially grasping for words and concepts can seem daunting. Most would prefer to be given a list of 30 words and pick a few that seem to resonate. I get that and can easily fall into the same desire to want to make it quick and easy.

But quick rarely leads to what is great … and almost never to what is true.

The discovery of our core is a bit of a wrestling match. It can get sloppy and confusing long before it ever gets clear and concise. The wrestling, sloppiness and confusion are what define the nature of our stagecoach journey.

In a world focused on efficiencies, one might rightfully ask … when a jet is available to get you to the destination, why in the world would you ever take a stagecoach? It’s a really good question … if greatness is defined by arriving at the destination. In discovering our core, greatness is created along the trail. The trail can be rough and sometimes the stagecoach gets stuck. And so we are forced to stop. In defining our core, I always recommend frequent stops along the trail. Work on it a while and put it away. Work on it some more and put it away. Eventually you arrive at a “version 1.0” and you set-up camp for a while and try it out and then you find yourself working on it some more.

The conditions of the trail and the weather along the way are constantly changing as we slowly begin to discover what is stable within us.

When something is “easy” we tend to simply “use” it.

Yet, we ultimately “own” what we fully experience. The discovery of our core values is an experience to be owned. And core values only become valuable when we fully own them.

It’s the wrestling match along the journey of the stagecoach ride that’s the price of ownership. Picking a few words, that resonate from a list of 30 options, is like renting. No matter how many rent payments you make, you never own anything.

The stagecoach journey demands patience and persistence.

Patience and persistence pays the mortgage. When we realize the journey to the core can be a rough ride … and that getting stuck, confused and wanting to give-up many times along the way … is a normal part of the experience. In finding the will to keep going, we ultimately arrive at our core.

It doesn’t happen quickly. Which is precisely why it can lead to greatness!

Today’s post is the featured article from the November 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.