Moving at the Speed of Your Values
The last 45 days had us watching a series of human systems move either quickly or slowly through challenges. We started to notice a few common threads in the efficient teams. They had a language for resolving conflict, and had a structure of values that helped them answer questions without stopping to talk with the authority figures. Those values helped each team member gain confidence, which developed their character. This last part on developing character stuck out to us because of some common perceptions on character being a fixed trait. The perception is that character falls into two camps: you either have it or you don’t. Most people don’t know how to teach it, they just know it when they see it. This leads us to the question that is the title of our next section.
Can You Develop Character?
We started to notice that the right human system can build and develop character with a series of commonly held values, that allow all of the members to build daily momentum with good choices. This crystallized for us when visiting the Naval Academy in November with our 12 year old son, Ryan.
We were 90 minutes away from the Academy, and with a free afternoon couldn’t pass up the chance to check it out. The midshipmen have positioned the book store right next to the security gate, so our first step was to pick up a few souvenirs for Ryan's sister and mother. A favorite pastime of ours is to buy a magnet for the fridge to commemorate past travels. Within minutes a coffee cup, exercise shorts, a sweatshirt, and the magnet were easily secured. Navy had just beaten Notre Dame at the football stadium that day, so there was a bit of a line, and we passed the time looking out the windows at the ships bobbing up and down. Soon enough it was our turn and we chatted with our attendant, got our receipt, and were off.
Twenty feet away from the counter and halfway out the doors Ryan turned to me and said with a surprise, “Dad the magnet is in my pocket!” We were literally inches away from stealing a $2.99 magnet on federal property. We did a quick about face, and went back to our attendant just as she finished with another customer.
With chagrin we presented our honest mistake and paid for the magnet. I remarked that the honor code at the Naval Academy was really important. And here is the moment that hit me. She smiled and said,
“It makes you feel really good."
It, being the honor code, the values that cover every situation that a person could encounter while at the Naval Academy, made her, an attendant at the book store, feel really good. Wow. Now that is a large human system that can move with speed. Their values are dynamic and all encompassing.
Turning to our 2017 hopes and dreams, one of them is that you and your teams will be able to align your interests and values in such a way that you effectively navigate the conflict and tension that accompanies worthy challenges and goals. With that in mind we have created a DIY alignment exercise for you to use with your teams. Click on the documents below or download HERE. We compiled it from a variety of sources and if you use it, let us know how it went.
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