From the very beginning, the sole purpose of THE PORCH has been to create a space to ponder the subtle issues of business and life. In the almost 250 issues, no two issues have been alike – well, until last summer’s reflection series! The SUMMER REFLECTION SERIES returns this summer as we circle-back to three of the most popular articles. As Jim Finley, a psychologist and one of my favorite spiritual teachers, often says: Repetition is not redundancy. I hope you find this to especially be true in these summer months as I pull from the archives of the first decade of “The Porch” AND with a gentle brush slightly fine-tune the original expression. No doubt, you will be seeing each of these summer issues from a different moment in your own life … which always gives us the opportunity to see it in a new way. When I first wrote the original version of this, over a decade ago, I had no idea that Artificial Intelligence would be so real, relevant, front and center — making the need to anchor in our own core (individually and organizationally) more important and valuable than ever. real and spontaneous — and a ton of fun to produce in so many ways. So, grab a seat on the porch swing and let’s go …
What started as a TV series, from 1966 to 1973, became a box office phenomenon in the years to follow. While the filming and story lines became more sophisticated, the theme song never changed. As soon as you hear the name, it is quite possible you immediately hear the song in your head. It’s Mission Impossible. It’s also quite possible you remember the famous line: This tape will self-destruct in five seconds!
And without fail, it always did.
In the case of Mission Impossible, self-destruction was a good thing. The self-destruction was, ironically, a form of preservation of the information. It works the opposite when it comes to core values and leadership. Core values become your preservation from self-destruction.
The problem, in a world of speed and our sophisticated ability to mechanically measure things, core values are sometimes inconvenient. In my book, GOOD to the CORE, I stated: Having core values will cost you. There is no question about it. And individuals who specifically understand their own personal core values know this cost. So do values-based organizations.
They also know the value that values bring.
One of the most important values of knowing our core may very well be the role they play in working against the construct of self-destruction. While not impossible, the construction of our core ultimately makes it much harder to focus on our own self. It is a bit of a paradox in which we find that knowing our core values is not about us at all. While our core values do define who we are, they actually put into play why and how we show-up for our work and for others.
You might need to ponder that for a minute to see if it rings true for you. Yet, I can’t remember the last time someone described a personal or organizational core value to me that sounded self-serving. Hence they become our greatest protection from the construct of our own self-destruction. For the seeds of self-destruction are planted in self-focus.
Looking into our core keeps us looking out.
Self-destruction is different than failure. It is much worse. Failure can sometimes be caused by external forces. Self-destruction is not. In fact, we can self-destruct in the midst of what appears to be incredible success. The stats may very well prove that most self-destruction takes hold in the midst of experiencing success. Probably because success can easily seduce us into self-focus. It is in knowing our core that we can continue looking outward in the midst of success.
Another image you likely remember from the Mission Impossible series is the lighting of the fuse. That is where the music begins. Success, without understanding the specifics of our core, is like lighting the fuse of self-destruction. It only becomes a matter of time. My quote in GOOD to the CORE did start with “having core values will cost you.” But the quote finished with “but not having them will destroy you.” Once the fuse is lit, it is just a timing issue.
So why do so many organizations and their leaders virtually remain “coreless?” First, most are not aware of their condition. They assume they do know their core. Second, without intention, empty words have been positioned as the veneer of their core. Third, it is easier to write-off the value of values because in doing so it demands nothing from us. Fourth, and the case for most, it simply is not easy to define your core.
But it is not impossible!
As an individual and an organization, your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to specifically define your core. Otherwise, something more important than a tape will self-destruct. It may not be in five-seconds, but it will be just a matter of time.
As the lazy hazy days of summer rumble through, it seems the time has come, when Tom Cruise thought we needed a little Mission reminder!
As always, I would LOVE for your to share, below, your thoughts, wisdom, insights or reflections!