I was involved in a rather interesting philosophical Facebook discussion this last week. My question was, “When a person chooses to change their action or reactions or if they experience minute or radical shifts in beliefs, does it change who they are at their core?”
My take on this was … no, in many cases, who we are at our core doesn’t change even though our beliefs, what or who we value or how we act or react, changes.
People who believe, at their very core, that continued personal growth is a necessary part of their life, reinforce that core value each and every time they adapt or adopt a belief that moves them towards a better version of themselves.
I recently read an open letter written by a pastor of a fundamental, Anabaptist church (https://themennonite.org/opinion/open-letter-beloved-church/). As with many fundamentalist, Anabaptist believers, for years he believed and preached that homosexuality was a sin. Then one of his sons came out and he was forced to re-examine this belief. After much searching, discussion and reflection, he radically shifted his belief from one of exclusion to one of inclusion and then acted on this new belief by officiating at his son’s wedding to a male partner.
Some people define that type of radical shift as a shift in core values. I see it another way. This man considered himself a man of God, put here on this earth to share God’s word. His radical shift in a sustaining belief did not change that. His view of God’s love and how to share that love changed. The people he believes should be included in the make up his churches’ flock has changed, but his core value, or definition of himself and his life purpose, did not change.
To me, core values are how we describe ourselves or our purpose here on earth. Sustaining beliefs and supporting actions fulfill those values. As we grow, as we learn and experience new things, our beliefs on how we fulfill that purpose and our corresponding actions, very often do change.
I believe I have a responsibility to make the world around me a better place. Over my lifetime, the size of the world around me has at times shrunk or expanded. I have examined and rejected some previously held beliefs as to what is good or what is in need of change. Other beliefs were reinforced upon deeper examination. But even though my beliefs and actions have changed, my core value remains intact.
So what does this have to do with business?
Too many businesses, just like too many individuals, are unable to answer the question “What do we/I hold dear? Why are we here? What makes us unique?”
Without core values, we tend to drift rudderless, we shift direction without purpose or understanding. Sometimes core values are established when we take time to examine beliefs and consciously chose which ones to let go of or hold on to. It’s important though, not to become so attached to beliefs that we stop examining, questioning and searching and then adapting or adopting actions to support new or revised beliefs. Without change, we become stagnant and could lose our purpose.
What are your core values? What beliefs do you or your business hold that support those values? Are your beliefs and actions congruent with your core values?