In a previouse article titled "Living Your Core Values" we talked about the descipline that we need to employ to abide and live by our core values. In this article we are going to dig deeper into the concept of core values and into how some cercumstances can put us in situations where we find ourselves faced with a very hard decision, a decision in which we will have to choose one value over another.
To make the case clearer we are going to use two of my values and use them as a case study to elaborate on the concept of contradicting values, or as the title is discribing them as the war amongst core values.
The two values that we are going to use for the case study are "honesty" and "Confidentiality." The first value is clear, but the second might need some more elaboration.
By confidentiality we mean keeping secrets and confidential information that we have been intrusted with by others. Now we move to looking at the dynamics of how those two values can play a contradicting role in some life situations.
Looking back at my childhood, i can remember easily that the Honesty value was not playing an important role in my life. The "survival need" took over and "honesty" was the victim. I remember that i used to lie a lot to get out of situations. My character was not strong enough to admit a mistake and reverted to lying so as to appear as expected by the people around me and was evidently not able to face up to the concequences of the mistakes that i used to do.
I can safely say that the honesty value grew in importance for me by the year 1996 when i was in Europe living between England and Slovenia. I'm not sure though what was the trigger that made the turn around. But i would guess living in open societies made me realize the beauty of clarity and the simplicity of being straight forward.
This value kept on growing in importance as i kept on getting the positive results and the wonderful feeling of having nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I think my body and thought just realized the heavy weight that it was under when having so many things that were supposed to be hidden. I realized the true meaning of burden only when i realized the beatiful feeling of lightness.
The evolution of this value gave space to my mind to delve into other issues..much more important issues in life and its philosophy. This is when i realized that people were drawn more and more to discuss with me abstract concepts about life, relationships, happiness, creativity and many other concepts. I can still remember one topic that popped up with my friends in England which dealt with the question: could focussing on thinking out of the box be a box of its own? It was really an amazing discussion..although i remeber that we did not come up with a clear answer, but discussing it was really enlighening.
Today honesty for me is at the top list of core values that i try with all my efforts not to jeopardize.
The other value which is "confidentiality" had a totally different story with me and much shorter i might add. It seems that this value was with me since the early beginnings.
My attention to confidentiality was drawn when i was about 10 or 11 years old. I didn't look at it then as a value but i was able to look at it as a good feature in me that i was very happy to discover.
At that age a boy from the neighborhood who was a couple of years older than me asked me if i can keep a secret. My answer of course was the obvious one. He told me the secret which i actually kept. One day a group of boys wondered if they can entrust me with some "secret information," and this boy vouched for me and said "yes you can trust him and I know this from personal experience."
That day the importance of this feature grew a lot and throughout my life i kept on working on enhancing it and making sure never to lose it.
There was always pressure surrounding the dynamics of those two values, but i was able to handle them in a very acceptable way. This was true until recently when i started going through severe sitautions when I was faced - more than once - with the decision of either/or.
I would be cornered into having to answer a question of which the answer entailed divelging confidential information about other people, or lie so as to protect the information.
I would always keep trying to find a balance and to keep holding on to both values, but the severity of the situations kept on increasing until one day I was faced with a matter that either decision was going to hurt people. This is a red line for me.
It was like dancing on a bed of nails. Finally i was able to preserve both values in a way that was helpful to the people involved, or at least this is how I would like to think about it - that it was helpful.
Until now I feel very lucky that I am able to balance living my values, but the moral of this article is to show that living our values can be hard in so many ways, but this is only in the short run. The long run effect is positively enormouse and it starts with the fact that we are able to preserve our self respect and self esteem which are critical factors to our development and success.
It is for sure that creativity is needed for us to able to jiggle our different values and this is why in our iDecode workshop we insist that we prepare a plan on how to live our values on daily basis as a preparation for such severe situations in which the choice is not easy and our minds might go for the easy solution to choose one value over another or over other multiple values.