The Importance of Core Values

Following a certain well-defined set of Principles and Virtues has the effect of shaping our behaviors and our individual code of conduct. It allows us to become consistent in thought, word and deed. By honoring our core values we are also able to experience fulfillment. Knowingly making the choices which are in line with our values is internally rewarding even if not externally beneficial. For example:

You find a wallet at the park. Inside the wallet is several hundred dollars in cash. Also in the wallet is a drivers license identifying the owner of the wallet and the cash. You could easily take the cash and discard the wallet. No one else would know and you could use the money. However, many of your core values demand you return the wallet, with all its contents intact. Honesty, because you know the rightful owner. Honor, requires you to take action to uphold what you know to be true. Compassion, because the person who lost that wallet may be suffering because of it.

Returning the wallet will not bring you external financial gain, but it will bring you the internal fulfillment you experience with personal success. Following our core values is always a win, no matter the external results.

Honoring your core values strengthens your relationships with others. They will know you to be dependable and trustworthy. In our world, trustworthiness is the highest value currency. It’s something nobody else can take from you.

Without a set of core values, our behaviors are more reactive. This leads to erratic decision making that can be self-contradictory. We can live passionately, but should lead thoughtfully.

Courage and Risk Taking

Not every leader who makes risky decisions is a courageous leader. Many people take risks because they lack a basic understanding of all the variables related to their choice. They could be motivated by pressures to complete a project within certain time constraints. Or worse, they could just be egoists who are shortsighted due to their own impatience. Sometimes they succeed, and sometimes they fail. But in their own eyes, the successes always overshadow the failures.

A leader uses courage when they are aware of the risks, aware of the consequences, and make a decision to take action with full knowledge of the dangers involved. Here is how to be the courageous leader:

Know the Risk/Reward
Carefully weigh the benefits of success against the costs of failure in advance.

Rely on Input from Others
Have trusted people who can give you objective analysis of the risks as well as your proposed choices. Their neutral eye can see details you may overlook. No good leader believes they are the best at everything all the time.

Measure Success by the Journey
Achieving the end goal should not be your sole focus. You stack up small wins each step along the way. Create small goals that build upon each other day to day.

Be Willing to Change Course
Don’t be afraid to reassess and modify your small goals and even your final goal. You must be able to adapt to changes. Needs evolve. How you do things must also evolve.

Always be Accountable
A courageous leader knows they can make mistakes. Just as you take credit for success, be responsible for failure. You cannot grow as a leader unless you learn from mistakes, and that starts with owning those mistakes.

Value Humility over Charisma

Good charisma is not inherently negative, but history shows us that highly charismatic leaders are much more of a risk than humble leaders. If you want to be a quality leader, develop and focus on the virtue of Humility.

The humble leader knows their own weaknesses as well as their strengths. They build teams that are balanced. The humble leader does not look for those who mirror their abilities, but instead the seek others to complement them. This attitude can then spread across the organization as a whole.

Humility allows you to be open to new ideas and to accept feedback positively. The focus of the humble leader is not to acquire personal fame and recognition. The goal is honest, principled success through fostering of a positive project environment. Use humility to foster an open and more collaborative workspace.

Humble leaders listen more efficiently. The charismatic leader is more likely to be thinking of a response to further their own vision while others are talking. The humble leader understands they are not the smartest person they know.

The charismatic leader is convinced they know more than everyone else. The humble leader sees themselves as a shepherd, keeping the team on target while the charismatic hero sees themselves as a superhero who is to be credited for all success. When things fail, the humble leader will readily bear the responsibility and work hard to identify and correct the problems. The charismatic leader will search for others to blame and push off ownership of failure onto them.

Humility is not weak. It is associated with strong traits such as sincerity, modesty, fairness and authenticity. A humble leader is one that is more dependable and trustworthy because they do not tie leadership success to personal success. The charismatic leader will opt for high-risk and high-reward because they equate leadership success with being personally successful.

So while a charismatic leader can inspire our passions, the inspirational promises don’t have the stable foundation of a humble leader to see them through to fruition. It is the humble leader that will inspire cooperation and productivity, as the leader’s team gets behind the idea and not the person.

Guidance and Shrines

We try not to judge any choices except for our own. The beliefs of all others are part of their journey. Beliefs cannot harm us, only actions.

We react to the actions of others as necessary based on our own journey. We can defend ourselves and others from harm.

We do not act with the goal to influence others. We do not try to change beliefs, even if we absolutely disagree with them.

We do not act in vengeance. Causing harm in retaliation for harm is just more harm and will escalate.

We do not punish or reward. We can show thanks or we can work with those who do wrong to understand the motive of their actions and to explain what would be preferred if they want to work with us.

We offer praise only as honest admiration and thankfulness. We offer critique when asked and only as an honest effort to assist that person with their goals.

There are no laws or rules to be broken. Your actions and choices are either honoring the Principles by way of the Virtues or they are not. There is no retribution if you make choices based on the opposing principles (cowardice, hatred and falsehood). Avatarhood is entirely a life you must lead of your own free will. When you stray, you alone must look inward and commune with your understanding of the Virtues.

We designate special shrines in our homes, our properties, or any place we can go to have a degree of seclusion for uninterrupted meditation. In time, we each have a shrine for each of the the eight Virtues, but initially we may only start with one. We meditate at specific shrines as a reminder of the virtue we seek insight from as well as to help us focus our thoughts on that Virtue.

Often, we understand where we chose poorly and seek guidance at the shrines to help us to alter our biased thoughts in order to avoid the same mistake in the future. Our understanding of the Virtues and through them the Principles comes from regular reflection at the shrines. There’s not a specific interval requirement or designated time duration for your meditations. This means you could meditate daily for an hour or weekly for 15 minutes. How often and for how long is entirely up to you.

Just remember that reflection and meditation on the Virtues is essential for gaining insight.

Our Kindred’s Golden Rule

We often hear “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. This is a selfish command. It directs you to treat others based on your desires. This leads you to believe that they want the exact things you want. It guides you to act with others based on your beliefs without consideration of theirs.

Do not seek to impose on others. Our “golden rule” is as follows:

Treat others as they want you to treat them.

It’s essential that we recognize the rights of others to have different beliefs and desires as we do. We respect both cultural and individual differences and accommodate them to the best of our abilities. You do not need to ignore your own beliefs in preference to others. Suppose a man is gravely ill and is suffering. He asks you to end his misery by bringing an end to his life. You hold a strong personal conviction against taking the life of another human. In this example, it’s unreasonable to treat him as he wants you to treat him.

Suppose again that you see an elderly man who is struggling to carry a burden. You would want someone to help you in this situation. But you also know that it’s extremely important for this man that he be able to carry his burdens without interference unless he specifically asks for help. You should place his desires for autonomy over your intrinsic desire to provide Compassion. In this case, true Compassion is to respect his interests. You may ask him if he needs help, but do not insist on giving it.

When living by the Virtues, the actions we choose must take into consideration the desires and interests of the others impacted by our decisions.