In the past seven weeks we’ve described seven overarching values agreed to in 1993 by the Parliament of the World’s Religions and cultures. They are the seven biggies against which all other values can be compared and measured. This Provision summarizes those values and brings them down to earth, so that we can consider, adopt, and apply them in our every day lives.
I recently attended CoachVille’s Third Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. It was a start-studded program of speakers, spread out over the course of three jam-packed days. Although coming from many different backgrounds, the speakers spoke in one voice about the importance of love.
- Dave Buck, the President of CoachVille, spoke about loving our clients through coaching the core dynamics of human problems, including a masterful demonstration with an audience volunteer.
- Laura Berman Fortgang and Marcia Wieder talked about loving our clients’ dreams into being.
- Tim Sanders, Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo! and author of Love is The Killer App, talked about love in the workplace. (Quotable quote: “In a dog-eat-dog world, I’d rather be a cat • a love cat!”)
- Lise Janelle, a chiropractor, talked about assisting our clients to love themselves better in seven areas of life.
- Ross Dawson, a futurist and business strategist from Australia, talked about e-love in terms of creating living networks that increase both personal and professional collaboration.
And those were only some of the highlights! Many other speakers also spoke about love, from their own unique vantage point and experience. You can imagine, therefore, that the last speaker after three days might have had trouble adding value to the topic. But Lance Secretan, a pioneer of Higher Ground Leadership principles and author of Inspire!: What Great Leaders Do, was more than up to the task.
What I liked about Secretan’s presentation • in addition to his stage presence, stories, and multimedia props • was his interpretation of leadership as a values-based construct. The notion that Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Machiavelli, Attila the Hun, and Genghis Khan were great leaders was categorically rejected. Why? Because they did not serve others and they did not make the world a better place.
Great power and influence over great numbers of people do not, in and of themselves, a great leader make. At least not according to Secretan. He argues for servant-leadership, empathy, collaboration, passion, inclusiveness, ecology, connectivity, life-long learning, wisdom, and inspiration. In other words, leadership that is disconnected from values that enhance the well-being of others and of the planet is no leadership at all.
Which, in fact, has been the point of our entire Provisions’ series on values and agrees with the declarations of the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions and cultures. Let’s allow the Parliament to speak for itself:
“The world is in agony. The agony is so pervasive and urgent that we are compelled to name its manifestations so that the depth of this pain may be made clear. Peace eludes us … the planet is being destroyed … neighbors live in fear … women and men are estranged from each other … children die! This is abhorrent!”
“We condemn the abuses of Earth’s ecosystems. We condemn the poverty that stifles life’s potential; the hunger that weakens the human body; the economic disparities that threaten so many families with ruin.”
“We condemn the social disarray of the nations; the disregard for justice which pushes citizens to the margin; the anarchy overtaking our communities; and the insane death of children from violence. In particular we condemn aggression and hatred in the name of religion.”
“But this agony need not be. It need not be because the basis for a global ethic already exits. This ethic offers the possibility of a better individual and global order, and leads individuals away from despair and societies away from chaos. This ethic is formed on the basis of a common set of core values, found in the teachings of the world’s religions and cultures. It is a truth already known, but yet to be lived in heart and action.”
Lance Secretan could well have turned to the Parliament for his work on Higher Ground Leadership! Apart from love, one might conclude, there is no way to be successful and fulfilled in life and work. Apart from love, our world will continue to tear itself apart at the seams, making the top-two planetary threats — violence and environmental degradation • the stuff not only of nightmares and movies but also of the nightly and neighborhood news.
Fortunately, the Parliament and Secretan are both hopeful that it is not too late for us to turn things around. Not if we live and lead from a set of values that enhance the well-being of others and of the planet. The Parliament framed their global ethic in terms of seven core values which are in concert with Secretan’s views.
(1) Peace. The proliferation of violence, from isolated individual incidents to terrorism to war, is perhaps the gravest threat to the future of human civilization. It has always been a concern of the world’s religions and cultures, but it has become more so since the advent of weapons of mass destruction. Until we recognize and respect the sanctity of human life, there will be no peace and there will be no progress toward what Martin Luther King, Jr. was fond of calling “the beloved community.” We would all do well to adopt peace as one of our top guiding values.
(2) Ecology. Of course, without a sustainable planet there will also be no human civilization. If you have seen the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow,” then you know the science-fiction version of ecological catastrophe. But the threats to “spaceship Earth” are very real. The exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of the biosphere cannot continue at their current rate forever. Sooner or later, some version of “The Day After Tomorrow” will be upon us if we do not take preventive measures now. Individuals, organizations, corporations, and governments all need to rally behind and work for the ecological sustainability of life.
(3) Compassion. If love makes the world go ’round, in business, politics, and all areas of life, then compassion may well be the tiny seed that grows into a rich harvest of cultural solidarity and economic abundance. When we extend caring for others beyond our immediate family and friends to include all who suffer hunger, deficiency, and need, especially children, the aged, the poor, the disabled, the refugees, and the lonely, we add an ingredient that seasons the whole pot. Compassion not only makes life more bearable, it also makes life worth living. Avoid domination, cynicism, narcissism, transcendentalism and any other philosophy that takes you away from love.
(4) Justice. It’s not enough, of course, to extend caring for others. It’s equally important, and at times more important, to pursue the systemic reforms that make for global justice and minimize the need for compassion. That can be harder than caring for individual persons, but it’s not impossible to build a new world order based upon fairness, sustainability, citizenship, benevolence, and consideration. How we handle debt and property in a market economy determines much about the degree of justice in the world. Whether we are advocates or policy makers, allowing justice to guide our positions is a value for the ages.
(5) Tolerance. Although extremists of every ilk have long sought to assert their supremacy over others, through persuasion and compulsion, the world’s religions and cultures speak more to the celebration of diversity than to its condemnation. Prejudice, hatred, and enmity towards others simply have no place in the global community. The “geography of fear” may be very real, both externally and internally, but tolerance represents a better way. By treating others respectfully, as we wish to be treated, we too may have the surprising and yet delightful experience of seeing those dividing walls of hostility come tumbling down.
(6) Honesty. No value means anything if we come to it dishonestly. Pretending that we believe in something just won’t cut the mustard. Outright lies, deceit, swindling, and hypocrisy destroy the basis for communication and community. Unfortunately, pretension and dishonesty are all too common in the world today. People say what they think others want to hear. People hustle the system to their own advantage, compromising both their integrity and their identity in the process. Don’t do that! Speak and act truthfully, even when it hurts. The mindful application of honesty to the course of life really is the best policy.
(7) Partnership. To listen to those who speak of men as being the “head of the household,” you would think that hierarchy is built into the very fabric of the relationship between men and women. But this does not represent the common value of our many religious and cultural traditions. Mutual respect, partnership, and understanding between men and women is the way we need to live and work. And this serves as a model for human relations in general. Top-down attitudes and practices are giving way to more transparent structures of collaboration and servant-leadership. Secretan calls this “people whispering,” after those who can gently whisper wild horses into taking a saddle and rider. We need more whispering, and less shouting, when it comes to how we live and work with others.
These seven big values are not beyond our reach. They are not just for saints and leaders on the world stage. They can be adopted by one and all, applied in the home and in the workplace, with very practical effects. Secretan notes that values such as these impact our destiny, cause, and calling in the world. They have transformed how CEOs have led their companies and how parents have raised their families. They have coached middle managers and social reformers into being the change they wish to see. They have made a difference in lives of countless individuals and institutions.
The coaching value of such transformational core values cannot be overstated. Once we have a clear sense of who we are, what we stand for, and what we will do in the world, we end up with a much greater ability to self-coach our way through life. No one lives up to their core values all the time. But knowing what they are, and knowing how they relate to the seven time-tested values of the world’s religions and cultures, enables us to make the course corrections that will see us successfully through our days.
Coaching Inquiries: If you were to die right now, what would people say at your funeral? Would they speak of love? Would anyone talk about how you changed their life or made the world a better place? How could the values of peace, ecology, compassion, justice, tolerance, honesty, and partnership become more a part of who you are, what you stand for, and what you do in the world?
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.
I tried to whittle down your “value” words from last week’s Provision. I could only get down to 11 comfortably, no less. Here they are: Dare, Impact, Spark, Create, Inspire, Unite, Nurture, Support, Respond, Awaken, and Prevail. I’m sending them to you because I wanted to share them. They seem pretty perky and cheer me up, even though I’m feeling quite low today. Thanks for the reminder.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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