A number of years ago as part of my professional development I went off to a Covey seminar on Core Values. I found the class interesting, but in the end, felt that it left something important unsaid about how I navigated through my life. Being explicit about one’s values is helpful, even necessary, but values are not sufficient except for the most fundamentalist approach to living.
My Life, as I’ve experienced it, only infrequently runs aground for a lack of values awareness and implementation. Generally when my values are under duress, the choices are very clear even if implementation comes at a significant cost. My deepest, thorniest challenges come in situations that involve tradeoffs where there isn’t a clear either/or value to fall back on for direction.
Over time a pattern has emerged to these trade-offs, allowing me to identify common pairs that I am continually managing and I’ve come to call these vital symmetries, riffing off the medical idea of vital statistics. Furthermore, my times of deepest dissatisfaction have always involved, upon reflection, some imbalance in one or more of these vital symmetries. To move beyond those times required time and attention to restoring the dynamic balance of the impacted symmetries.
Like the values, identifying my vital symmetries is one level of work, but maintaining them requires another whole level of effort. By their very nature there is a kind of oil and water quality to them. Realizing one of a pair often involves letting go of the other. For example, if one is creating the whole world it can be damn hard to find something one hasn’t created, to acknowledge and accept a gift of the universe.
I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of talking over this idea and my specific content with a number of folks, and not too surprisingly while it seems everyone can identify at least one or two trade-offs they are always engaged with, those trade-offs tend to be unique to each individual. I suppose if I was a scholar and researcher, I could do some data collection and begin to identify patterns and commons tradeoffs, but the planning, collaboration and stability required for that are more than off-set by my love of spontaneity, individual effort and change. That’s me being realistic about the balances I need in my life to feel good, on-track and happy.
The other part of this conversation is some individual context that has persisted over the 50+ years of living I’ve done. This enduring context seems hardwired into me at a level deeper than personal choice. A number of attempts to let go of these attributes or suppress them has been consistently unsuccessful in some pretty spectacular and painful ways. Useful awareness as I try to understand both my values and my symmetries. Neither set tends to lead me down paths that are in direct opposition to the enduring context.
Below you’re find my context, core values and vital symmetries. What are yours?
|1||Truthfulness – Search for persistent truth as the basis for sustainable action|
|2||Balance – Maintain the Symmetries and values|
|3||Integrity – Honor the truth I find, act accordingly|
|4||Communication – Clarity, Transparency|
|5||Equality – The “Death Comes for the Arch-bishop” thing|
|6||Nurture – Nurture the best I can find in people, animals, all|
|7||Curiosity – Explore, examine, question, and play|
|1||What I find/am given||What I make/create|
Honor & Glory
|3||The Actual||The Ideal|