Please bear with me as I meander through the crumbs of a lazy Sunday morning reflective journey…
Scrolling, as you sometimes do, through Facebook this morning, I came across this post about human design and brand strategy. Ever curious (read ‘sucker’!), I clicked on the invite to have my own human design chart – clever little lead generator there! A beautiful little diagram emerged on the basis of my astrological chart telling me I was a ‘generator’ but no info on how to interpret what any of it meant. So, a bit more scrolling revealed that the woman looked particularly at the Venus position to determine your brand strategy on the premise that this planet reveals your ‘values’ and helps with choosing colour palettes which resonate with you but again no insight on how to read and I wasn’t prepared to take the bait. ok ok… mumbo jumbo pseudo-science you may say but fun nevertheless.
Got me thinking about values… Values is something that I work on a lot with coaching clients. If you aren’t clear about your core values, you are a ship lost at sea without a navigation system. If you aren’t clear about who you are and what matters most to you, it can frustrate effective decision making and moving forward in meaningful, authentic and fulfilling ways – alignment and attraction. Perhaps, in Simon Sinek terms, it’s your ‘why’. This includes how you present yourself to the world, build your business, who you work and partner with and the people, places things you surround yourself with in life. As my own coach once told me, if the values of the organisation you work for no longer align with your own, it’s time to leave. Which in effect, is precisely what underpinned my choice to leave a corporate environment I’d worked in for over 20 years. Their stated core values, which resonated deeply with my own, were just not being lived. Worse, it was pushing me to behave in ways not consistent with my values.
Creativity, compassion and collaboration are core values for me – they all speak to me of integrity and authenticity, valuing individuals and community. Chicken and egg? It’s all intertwined and, well, I don’t want to get caught up in the debate on values vs morals vs ethics here. It’s taken a while but I do know what matters to me and kindness is in there. And, I was reminded of something I read about Margaret Mead when asked what was the first evidence of human civilisation. According to her, it was the discovery of the first skeleton with a healed femur. In the hunter gather days of our ancestors, if an animal broke a leg that was it, lights out – back to the food chain! The fact that someone had healed meant that another person had helped them – got them to safety and nursed them to health – signs of kindness or creativity, compassion, and collaboration in my view. Helping each other to rise up.
Kindness, caring for other’s well-being without crossing boundaries, really does matter and, from the Mead story, is a cornerstone and benchmark of civilisation and community for humans. We are social animals. I remember a younger colleague in my team once saying to me after an unsuccessful job application that people told her it was because she was ‘too kind’. Didn’t have the killer instinct! I’m not sure if that was the reason but I call BS. Not on her but on any corporate system which doesn’t entertain ‘kindness’ as actually one of the highest values and core skills of leadership. The world needs more people in leadership who truly connect with others and connect with compassion, as human beings. Of course, business is business and there is a balancing act to navigate.
I laughed at the rather delightful news this week of Twitter employees calling Elon Musk’s bluff, the mass exodus from tyrannical dictatorship. Good for them! Hope he sat up and took notice that in these times you can’t get what you want by just cracking a whip and shouting ‘do as I say or you’re fired’; you can’t just get people to commit and engage without a shared vision and purpose. That is not the behaviour of a true leader. People need to be brought along – feel they are valued, have a role to play, integral to the ecosystem, empowered and trusted to do their job, and rewarded and recognised – plenty of studies show that appreciated employees always deliver more, often go the extra mile, and usually because they feel they have a stake in the result or just really enjoy the collaborative process.
They say people don’t leave jobs, they leave bad managers. I’m inclined to agree but at the same time think bad behaviour is just a symptom of a toxic corporate culture or work environment. Most managers or leaders I encountered throughout my career were actually lovely people. When you operate in a climate of fear though, it can create panic and stress, competitiveness, and provoke behaviours to achieve individual short-term wins and immediate results at the expense of longer-term, ‘community’ or mission focussed sustainable outcomes – trying to fit in and stay employed i.e. survival mode.
Leaders should actually be ‘in service’, responsible for the people in their team, their followers, for their well-being and development. They may be appointed to a leadership role but to be a leader you have to be chosen by your people as one. What are Elon’s core values, I wonder? And, can our core values change? Values are not in your genes or DNA. They are not set in stone. They are our basic belief system, morals and ethics but they can change, do change, and can be changed at institutional and individual level. Circumstances may change as we go through life and our beliefs may change as we mature and grow. We can consciously choose and adapt our core values but must truly believe in them for them to be embedded and lived. Some may even stay with us our whole lives or remain relatively stable over a prolonged period, while others may shift.
Think about what truly matters to you! Is kindness a core value for you? Maybe do an annual ‘core values’ audit or check up for yourself! If you’re interested, I have a little exercise for this I can share. Contact me.
And remember that kindness extends to yourself too! Be gentle and forgiving with yourself. We’re all only human afterall…
Have a beautiful Sunday wherever you are folks!
PS The little collage featured at the top of this post is from my ‘Three little maids’ series celebrating sisterhood and friendship. If you’re curious about my creative adventures and recent work, check out my art portfolio page on this site here.