Core Values: True Story
One autumn day about 10 years ago, my husband, our 11-year-old twins and I fell into a
conversation about what values are and which values are important to us. I wrote them down
so we could refer to them later. When I mentioned our discussion to my neighbor, she asked
for a copy and that Christmas she presented our family with an artistic rendering of our family
values beautifully framed for display (See below). Those values have lived in almost every public space in our home ever since.
Recently, a friend came to the house to visit my daughter. When she asked what that
statement in the frame was, I overheard my daughter say, “Those are the rules of our family”.
Interesting interpretation, right? Aren’t house rules more about curfews and walking the dog?
Well, as a leadership development professional, I was thrilled that my daughter had taken these
family values to heart. his is what I hope for when I help my organizational clients clarify their
core values to share and model with their staff, clients, and community partners.
So, job well done with our family values, right? Not quite… Last weekend my son came home
for a visit. Looking for more validation, I handed him the display and asked him what he thinks
when he sees it. His response: “I thought that came with the frame.” Shocked, I turned to my
husband, looking for re-affirmation that those values have been an important part of how we
treat each other in our family for years. His response: “I haven’t noticed that in years, let me
have a look… Aww, that’s nice.”
Great start? Yes! Did we keep it fresh and up to date? No! This was a good reminder that we
can’t just put the list on the wall and never review it. Has my family lived by these values all
these years? Mostly, yes. Not sure if it’s by accident or by design, probably a bit of both. One
thing is for sure—now is a good time to remember my sense of humor and laugh!