Anyone who knows me well knows how much I live through myth, smiling each morning as I walk in the woods, breathing in Narnia. And genes must run deep as I can’t begin to count the number of times my sons have read or watched Lord of the Rings. Myths give us heroes, stories, and a lens through which to make sense of the world. They expand the ordinary into deeper connections and meaning.
So I find it fascinating and inspiring in these powerful times to be working on some projects around the values and meaning of words and concepts. For instance words like the United States, our family, Apple, Enron, Pearl Street Bagels and Jackson Hole mean much more than the place or buildings that hold them. Over time, entities create their own power of myth as images, values and emotions arise within us. The buildings could go away, the land itself could change, the people could shift, the products could evolve, but our feelings, our energy around the essence of the concepts is much more than just the visceral.
Now, think about an entity that you’re a part of and ask yourself:
~ What’s important about it? What matters most about it?
~ What’s meaningful about it?
~ What do you like or dislike about it?
~ And why are you answering the way you answered?
You may be surprised by the responses you write down.
Then try it with your family or group of friends. Sit down with everybody and ask:
~ What’s most important about our family/friend group/where we live?
~ What values do we want that concept to embody?
~ What’s the most meaningful?
~ What matters the most?
~ What do we want to further build on and what might we want to change?
~ And why?
Aligning on those frameworks first allows us to respond thoughtfully to behaviors, policies and actions that don’t feel right; to communicate what’s not in alignment with our agreed to vision. Clarity on those value frameworks gives us a home base and a place from which to build without intense reaction.
~ What would it feel like to have these conversations quietly and kindly in our communities, in our country and in our companies?
~ Before we focus on discussions around policy, what would happen if we started every conversation with a clarification and alignment on values, importance and meaning?
And it could all begin with a few minutes a day of thoughtfulness and reflections around those higher myths that live within us.
Here’s to aligning on our common values.