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Core Values: A Tug-o-War

Have you ever been so conflicted that you felt like you were at war with yourself?  You know you have a choice to make and the only choice you're currently making is to be flummoxed by indecision.  Whether you know it or not, this battle being waged within you and with the strongest parts of you, are your core values yanking at one another, like two animals playing tug-o-war.  

When our core values are clearly defined, they guide us forward.  They even pull us along without even knowing it.  Like I said, those tugs are strong.  At this very moment, even with clarity in my values, the two animals in my gut are having such a battle, I can do nothing but sit down and write it out.  This is where I am right now:  Saturday.  Dusk.  A view of Santa Monica Blvd just beyond my double iced espresso.  Quietly writing while World War III is being played out between two of my Core Values: Peace [Dove] vs. Community [Elephant]. A dove versus an elephant?  That doesn't seem like a fair fight. They shouldn't even be in the same ring together, but nonetheless, the battle is on and it is epic. 

In the white corner: The Dove. The ability to carry an olive branch in its beak and rise above the unknown.  The Dove: Beautiful to watch soar above the madness carrying a message of peace, but with the awareness that it in order to stay airborne, it must flap its wings, welcoming others towards their olive branch.  If it were to do anything differently, it would fall to the earth and into the chaos.  The Dove is emblematic of peaceful resistance.  It knows that peace cannot come from violence; that we cannot force anyone to take the branch, we can only carry it with us with the hope that they reach with open hands to take it. To delve even deeper, the core value of Peace stems from my younger years of not having very much of it. This value arose from the internal chaos that evolved from the very external crises from my past.  As I grow to find more Peace in my life, this value continues forward as well.  Now, I am more cognizant of why I carry my olive branch and how easy it is to lose sight of how peaceful resistance can be tainted by power and control. 

In the gray corner: The Elephant. This behemoth of a creature, known for its ability to remember is also recognized for its care and concern for members of their family.  Their love for community is so strong they've been known to risk their own lives to save another member of their herd. Even more telling, as a story goes, a particular herd once traveled 12 miles to gather outside the house of a recently passed South African conservationist who saved their lives years prior.  They stayed for two days paying respect to someone from outside of their community, but a part of their family.  They know that regardless of our differences, we're stronger together.  Maybe this is because my Elephant memory can easily recall what it feels like to be 'othered' or not have a sense of belonging. Community. As I evolve to understand how I embody this value, I learn how easy it is to put up walls to protect it.  Like the Serengeti, my community has no clearly defined boundaries to stop others from taking part in all of its splendor.  My only request is that you respect its beauty. 

When I am living an authentic existence, I am but an amalgam of all my Core Values: Peace. Community. Adaptability. Playful. Held together by Kaizen. This figurative battle being waged within me on this Saturday in late August sprung from the actual battle being waged between a boxer and a fighter, more specifically between a gathering of my friends to watch this 'epic' fight on a TV in my own home.  For me though, the real battle is between my desire to embody Peace with my longing for a sense of Community.  I am realistic and while my altruism remains strong, I am aware that physical violence is a byproduct of being a human being living in a finite space with other human beings.  We're bound to step on each other's toes every once in a while. What we don't have to do is celebrate it or make a spectacle of it. 

When I refer to my value: peace, I also refer to my strength.  When I am a dove, I have the ability to remain steadfast when my beliefs are being violated.  As my elephant-self mourns the loss of a community gathering, I could ruminate over that sadness until it forms an anger that stampedes across the plains.  But instead, I choose to sit here, alone with my branch, writing it out.

The rumbling in my gut subsides. Kaizen [The Mountain] - the referee, calls the bout.  It's all over folks.  And the winner is me, because I decide to remain here writing and continually improving.  Continuous improvement in Japanese is Kaizen.  It is what tethers my core values together.  When I am in an internal conflict of my core values, I ask myself, how might this benefit Kaizen? In almost every instance, one value will rise to the surface.  What about you?  What animals do you embody and why? What are your Core Values?  If you never stopped to think about them, they may be wildly making decisions for you or keeping you feeling caged in.  Know them.  Tame them and you too will know why.  Kaizen! 

paul sanbar