Provision #354: Century Thinking

Laser Provision

Are your core values any good? That may sound like an odd question, but it goes to the heart of many problems in our world today. If you are uncomfortable with the direction of your own life, let alone with the course of history, then perhaps it’s time to connect your core individual values to the common global values upon which nearly all religions and cultures agree.

LifeTrek Provision

Americans love to think in century terms, even when it comes across as hubris to the rest of the world. The start of the last century, for example, led many to hail the 20th century as inherently Christian.

“As the nineteenth century passed into the twentieth,” wrote Charles Clayton Morrison, “the whole Christian world was in a mood of expectant optimism. The press was full of discussion and prediction of the wonders that would take place in the new era which the new century was ushering in.”

“Dr. George A. Campbell, a Chicago pastor, was at that time editor of The Christian Oracle. None of us liked that name. Campbell suggested that this new century must be made a Christian century. He accordingly proposed that The Oracle be re-Christened with that name. His friends . . . heartily agreed. And so in 1900 it was done. No name could have better symbolized the optimistic outlook of that period than The Christian Century.”

Although The Christian Century continues to this day as a leading Christian publication, it is worth noting that the 20th century ended with Christianity being a less dominant world religion than it was at the start. God has a way of humbling the proud.

So here we stand again at the start of a new century, and once again there are those thinking in century terms. Only now, instead of proclaiming the 21st century as inherently Christian, there are those who speak of it as rightly American.

At the start of the 21st century, notes the Project for The New American Century, “the United States stands as the world’s preeminent power. Of course, it must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But it cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.”

So the Project advocates a century in which America: “(1) increases defense spending significantly to carry out its global responsibilities today and modernize its armed forces for the future; (2) strengthens its ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to American interests and values; (3) promotes the cause of political and economic freedom abroad; and (4) accepts responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to American security, prosperity, and principles.”

The architects of this manifesto, originally written in 1997, have now taken over the reigns of running the American government. It will be interesting to see if the next 100 years smile any more favorably upon “the New American Century” than the last 100 years did on “the Christian Century.” Time will tell. But things have certainly gotten off to a rocky start.

I mention these grand visions of those who would shape the world in their image because, at the very same time and in the very same place, there has been another movement afoot. This movement seeks not to make the new century either Christian or American, but rather a value-based expression of globalism.

In 1893, also in Chicago to coincide with the World Columbian Exposition, there was the first Parliament of the World’s Religions. Here religious leaders gathered to foster mutual respect, understanding, peace, and harmony among the nations. Of course there were those in attendance who used the occasion to assert the superiority of Christianity. But Swami Vivekananada, a young Bengali ascetic, challenged the Parliament to search for the universal truths recognized by all religions and cultures.

This challenge to find common values rather than a superior way of being left a profound impression. It certainly stirred many of the interfaith movements which continue to this day. The point was not to promote one world religion or culture, but to find the common ground • however minimal • upon which people can agree and work together.

One hundred years later, in 1993, before the age of terrorism had come into its own, the Parliament of the World’s Religions reconvened in Chicago. The superiority of Christianity was off the table (prompting the more conservative churches to boycott the proceedings). Instead, there was a clear agenda to answer the 100-year-old call of Swami Vivekananada. What values do the religions and cultures of the world share in common?

Given the horrific events of the past few years, with increased tensions between religions and cultures around the world, it is perhaps instructive to go back to a calmer time in order to see what people were able to agree upon in 1993. All the more so since this is at once a personal and global proposition.

How often have you read in this newsletter and elsewhere about the importance of anchoring your life and work in core values? That is a near universal focus for the coaching profession. When people are unclear about their values, or when they find their values being compromised, or when they find their values going unexpressed, coaches take people through a valuation process that can tap into newfound reserves of courage, conviction, passion, commitment, integrity, and honesty.

“A value is anything on which you place worth,” writes Jack Groppel in his book The Corporate Athlete. “It could be your belief in God, it could be the love you have for your child or for your spouse, it could be the love you have for a fianc•e or for a parent or a sibling, it could be a love of nature. Whatever your value system is, you should emotionally connect to it. This is essential to surviving the tough times presented to us from day to day in business and in life.”

The problem with much that is written about core values, including The Corporate Athlete, is that it fails to make the connection between our core individual values and our common global values. To read some of the literature, you would think that every person is on their own, developing core values as a solitary exercise in personal development.

But nothing could be further from the truth. We all inherit values from the religions and cultures of our society. And the values we choose to live by inevitably build up or tear down the common values upon which civilization is founded and built.

LifeTrek Coaching works from the assumption that common global values can assist in the development of core individual values. We are not islands unto ourselves, trying to invent values upon which to base our lives. We are the latest in a long line of value-based religions and cultures, so why not tap into them as we seek to develop ourselves in the world?

In the coming weeks and months, we will explore the initial Declaration Toward a Global Ethic which came out of the Parliament in Chicago and which has such timely relevance both to the future of the world and to our future as individuals. If you want to live a purpose driven life, to borrow the title of Rick Warren’s bestselling book, then this series of Provisions may enable you to do just that.

Coaching Inquiries: Where do your core values come from? Do you know what they are? What are your hopes and dreams for the new century? How do you express your core values in your everyday life?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

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 really enjoyed my weekly Provision this week! With your assistance, I am learning to be great by simply showing up! “Great work is any work we love to do.” I agree. I love what I am doing and would not have it any other way. Thanks.

Please add Turkmenistan to your list of countries. I am really interested in your work, so please explain more about your job, your responsibility. 

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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