Bringing Values to Life

I read Awesomely Simple by John Spence today.  It is an excellent book that contains some of the best lessons that I learned in his "Strategies for Success" workshop, along with a few additional insights that he has discovered over the years.  One quote in the chapter about developing a "Vivid Vision" particularly struck me: "If the vision is written down in a hundred places, painted on banners, and carved in a giant rock in front of the building but is not a living part of the culture, then it is the same as not having one."

Essentially, John's message is that unless we truly believe in, base our decisions on and act intentionally to serve that vision, then it is nothing more than make-believe.  We can write it down on every piece of paper, put it on every poster, and recite the words at each meeting.  But it is our Actions, not words, that truly matter.

The quote is about vision, and there is a lot of processing and application to do in this area.  But while I was reading, my mind went somewhere else.  After finishing that sentence, I paused in limbo for a moment, and thought back to John's earlier comments about Values.  Many companies espouse a set of core principles, and to fraternities and sororities, they are the fundamental building block.  Inspired with curiosity, I reread that same sentence at least three times, replacing the word "vision," with the word "values."

Try it yourself.  Scroll back up and reread. Do you have the same reaction?

This simple message about vision resonates just as powerfully in the context of fraternal values.  On their own, the oaths we recite, the principles we espouse and the noble ideas we promote are insignificant.  Only when we act with these principles as instructions do they gain meaning.

So how are you doing?  Is every member actively striving to realize these ideals?  Do you use these principles when making decisions?  Use the following questions to gauge your performance, and to pinpoint areas where you could truly give life to our founding values:

  • When was the last time you gave an award for personal growth?
  • If we are leaders, why are only a handful of members involved in advancing a cause outside the organization?
  • How much time in the chapter meeting is spent on frivolous events and t-shirt designs versus community service and alumni networking?
  • Beyond 'awards for GPA' and 'study hours', what do you do that shows me you care about Scholarship?
  • What rationale gets someone a bid?  "She was really nice / He is legit."  Or, "She/he is involved in everything, is ahead of schedule on her career plan, and helps as a tutor with the elementary school kids once a week."

What else are you Saying that you should also be Doing?