The Greek philosopher Thales was asked what is the most difficult thing.
“To know yourself,” was his reply.
Perhaps that is why few of us look at ourselves in the mirror and ask, “Who am I?” It’s a difficult question to answer.
We say, “I’m a teacher.” or “I’m a stay-at-home mom.” But that is what we do, not who we are.
Who we are is not so much about what we do
but rather why and how we do it.
Values filter our responses and attitudes. ‘Go-to’ favorites emerge as core values. Through habit, these become deeply embedded standards by which we measure our life. Reactions and impulses that seem natural and involuntary reflect our core values.
Clearly defined core values keep us balanced and on track. Without them, we are like a nuclear reactor whose malfunctioning core cannot control the reactions and the energy (heat) produced by circumstances. The potential result is a Chernobyl disaster.
Why 5 instead of 10 or 15?
- Diligently creating a habit with just a few qualities is far more effective than trying to manage too many. It’s like walking—one step at a time. Or like building—one brick at a time.
- When David faced Goliath, he gathered 5 stones. Someone has said, 1 for Goliath and 4 more to fell each of his brothers! I like that pre-emptive thought.
My 5 core values are the weapons
that conquer every giant
that taunts and intimidates me.
- Core values are of greatest effect when inter-woven, inter-active and operating in balance. They bring stability and create the fabric of my being.
The 5 core values I choose to define myself
- I am industrious.
I work hard, I work smart, I work with enthusiasm.
When I have a job to do, a task to accomplish, or an assignment to complete, I am fully engaged, totally focused and completely absorbed.
But I am not a workaholic. I choose to be master not slave of my work.
Work, even hard work, is just work, often better done by a robot or a machine.
Human energy, dedication and drive
elevate work to the glorious purpose
for which it was entrusted to humankind
by their Creator.
- I am self-reliant.
I accept full responsibility for my life. No one else is to blame for who I am, what I do or how I live. I am the product of my own choices, made of my own free will.
Yet I am not independent. My most successful and productive choices are made…
- when I heed the sound advice of my elders and mentors,
- when I consider the feedback of friends and peers,
- when I stop to help others along the way, particularly the generation that follows me,
- when I am interdependent.
I am who I am today,
having climbed on many a broad shoulder
pulled up by many a helping hand.
- I am a man of integrity.
Aiming for complete harmony in what I think, say and do, I strive to be honest, transparent and trustworthy—a man of my word.
My moral code is positive and simple with lots of freedom for creative expression:
- Love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength (resources) and all my mind,
- Love my neighbor (fellow human beings) as I love myself,
- Love justice (standing up and speaking out for what is right) and mercy (compassion) as I walk humbly with my God.
I do not compare myself to anyone else,
for in the end I answer to God for
how well I lived, loved and mattered.
- I respect the thoughts, feelings, wishes, rights and property of others.
If it is true that each of us is created in the image and likeness of our Creator, then there must be a measure of goodness in every human being. The image of our Creator is simply a little more tarnished, the likeness a little more distorted, in some than others.
Jesus looked beyond the faults of even the worst sinners to perceive the creative destiny hidden in each fragmented life. I am learning to do the same.
Respect moves me to accept each in his own right,
and stand up for those too weak or too afraid
to defend themselves.
I cannot in good conscience live only for myself.
- My love springs from deep gratitude.
My relationship with God is not distant nor religious. Ours is a vibrant Father-son love that grows daily as we share life together.
There are many, especially my family, who have enriched me. Therefore, I value each person I meet. Every encounter is an opportunity to bless and be blessed, to give and to receive.
Who can know how many angels I’ve entertained in these ‘chance encounters’?
Beyond the many hardships,
there is a certain beauty and joy in living.
George Bernard Shaw said,
“Life isn’t about finding yourself; Life is about creating yourself.”
Core values determine the life you create.
Choose them carefully, you are a masterpiece in progress.
St. Francis of Assisi says it well in his prayer.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.“