Last week, my son Parker was telling me about an exercise he completed in one of his college courses. Students were asked to list the most important things and people in their lives in various categories. During the course of the exercise, they were continually asked to take one item away. One by one, important items “left” Parker’s life, until the list grew short.
This exercise forces the participant to prioritize and make choices about what is really most important to them. When Parker looked at the short list at the end of the exercise, he could see the things he holds most dear in a tangible way (or the list could cause him to reflect on whether he made the right choices throughout the exercise).
Whether you have done this powerful exercise or not, you do it, in reality, every day.
Through the choices that you make.
Last Sunday looked full on my calendar – especially from 6-8 pm. The date and time had been marked on my calendar for months – my beloved Purdue Boilermakers were traveling to Bloomington to face our biggest rivals – the Indiana Hoosiers – in the final game of the regular season. This is one of the two biggest games of any year – the other being when the Hoosiers come to West Lafayette. Perhaps the game became even bigger when the Hoosiers beat us in January.
6 pm. Must see TV. . .
A few weeks ago, Lori and I were asked to be involved in a project at our church, and there were three chances to participate the next round of planning sessions. The first two we wouldn’t both be able to make, but our calendars were clear for the third – 5:30 Sunday night. We scheduled ourselves for that session.
Suddenly, the first half of the game would be missed.
Recently, I’ve gotten re-connected with a close friend from high school. We spent lots of time together from the time he moved to our area until I went to college – two years before he did. He lived nearby, and he even worked part of a summer on our farm. I had kept up with Jim from a distance, but hadn’t talked to him until about a month ago. He reached out to me on Facebook, and we started re-connecting.
Jim doesn’t go by that name any more. My friend Jim is now known as Maynard James Keenan. He is the lead singer in the heavy metal band Tool. He’s won Grammy Awards and has multiple Platinum albums. Among others, Maynard formed a band called Pusifer – and they were coming to Indianapolis.
You guessed it, Sunday night, March 4. The show was scheduled for 7:30, so initially I thought I might be able to go to the meeting, listen to part of the game on the radio, and make the concert.
Until Jim invited Lori and me to be his guests.
Not just for the show, but for a VIP event before the show, including a wine class (he owns part of one winery and all of another, Caduceus, in Arizona), and then the chance to visit with him before the show.
Our inclusion in and preparation for the church planing session will be handled another way. The game would be missed. At 5:30 Sunday night, we were downtown for a great experience. While I will remember great wines and the very creative show, I didn’t choose the experience.
I chose Jim.
In this series of events, I lived the exercise that Parker described to me and I shared with you. In the end, for me, as much as I love college basketball and Purdue, it didn’t stand a chance. Sorry Boilers, all you got were two quick checks of the score on my phone in lull moments of the evening. The church commitment will be honored, but in a different way.
Each day, we all make these choices. While they are not always as obvious or unique as the one I just briefly described, they are all just as important. Values aren’t something we write about or, in an organizational setting, place behind glass in the conference room and give a prominent place in the Annual Report.
Our values are what we live, every day.
You are choosing and you are showing your values in those choices.
What do your choices and actions tell you (and those who see you) about your real values?