What Are My Values? This conversation has always been one I’ve enjoyed. Because it can go on and on and damn near anywhere…
Summer 1997, I was standing in a hallway of a small building on Fort Bliss with horrible A/C in my Class-A Uniform. I was a Private First Class and had been in the army for about 18-months at the time and was competing in my first, “Soldier of the Quarter Board.” There was only one more person in line before me. When the previous Soldier came out of the room he made a mistake that would ultimately decide our fate that day. He asked, “What the [Explitive] are the Army Values?” I had no idea but since there was a Soldier who would appear before me I had a few minutes to learn. Remember, there were no cell phones back then. For that matter, only a couple of computers in the building could even access the Army’s version of the internet. But there was a new poster hanging in the hall that said, Army Values! In July of 1997 – the Army launched its Army Values Campaign that is still in use nearly 20-years later.
With some help from Corporal Carver, I committed these new values to memory using the literary assistance of the following sentence, “Driving Home Late Can Save Rabid Insects” clearly missing the Army’s intended LDRSHIP.
The Army Values
- Selfless Service
- Personal Courage
But were they my values?
I won the board that day. When we came out of the board room after having been announced as the winner my Platoon Sergeant asked me, “where’d your learn the Army Values?” My values kicked in and I courageously told him the truth. Rodriguez tipped me off and Carver and I learned them in a couple minutes. Did I cheat? Sure I did. So fittingly, I was allowed to keep my title as Soldier of the quarter and Rodriguez learned what not to do when leaving a board. I also had to write a letter to My Platoon Sergeant explaining what I learned that day. The gist of the letter was that I lived up to the Army Values in all of my actions that day. It was my Duty to win the board. I was honest and honorable about telling everyone how despite my courage being tested (I was scared they would take away the title). But I had to ask, “Sergeant, these are the Army’s values – what if mine were different?” He responded with, “what are your values?” and that was one more step along the path that brought me to this VennLeader adventure. Because I’m still having that same conversation on a regular basis. What are my values?
A conversation that begins with “what are my values?” or “what are your values?” has always been one I’ve enjoyed. Because it can go on and on and damn near anywhere… So, lets start with an explanation of what values are…
Dictionary.com defines values as, “n: beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something).” Values are the rules by which we make decisions about right and wrong, should and shouldn’t, good and bad. They also tell us which are more or less important, which is useful when we have to trade off meeting one value over another. It is important to point out here and now that nether our material items or perspectives on a topic have a universally accepted and defined value. Values placed on materials and beliefs are assigned to them by society and it is through our socialization that we assign value to various beliefs. Louis Rath’s research on value criteria tells us that in order for something to be considered a full value that it must pass through a process. In determining if a value is a value it must be chosen freely and selected from or weighed against alternatives. According to Rath values are selected after careful consideration and the outcome is prized/cherished. Our values gain more weight with us when they are confirmed by others and are acted upon – especially if acted upon more than once.
As my bio says, I retired from the Army in 2016. The Army’s, “Army Values Campaign.” From my subjective opinion, is one of the most successful cultural campaigns I’ve ever seen. From the scared PFC in a hallway in Texas, those seven concepts played a pivotal role in hundreds of conversations for me over the next 19-years. For that matter, they continue to this day. One of my mentors, Retired General, Mike Ferriter continues to use them as the basis of his, “Hands On Inspired Leadership” Program. Perhaps I’m a little biased but, I’m a firm believer that these seven values easily fit into any culture and can help build and strengthen it.
Values in Action – Character Strengths
I use the Via Survey to help people determine their character strengths. This tool provides a great place to start a conversation about values, character, and character development. It only takes a few minutes and with only the results and this video the reader will be able to step off on a great path.