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In certain circles there's always a lot of talk about values; morals or characteristics people hold as important to them. Some organizations have lists of value statements. Ben Franklin even had a list of virtues he hoped to exude in his life.

Here's what I'm thinking: simply naming your values doesn't necessarily mean they're your values. An organization can put words on a piece of paper, but that doesn't automatically cause those attributes to be fleshed out in the everyday operations. A person can stake claims about what their values are, but that doesn't mean it's so. They could be misrepresenting themselves, or just flat out lying to themselves.

That's not to say someone couldn't identify their values. But those kinds of lists are maybe more about identifying the target; the values a person or group are hoping become important to them, to the kind of person or group they want to be (or become).

What got me to thinking about this is that I've lately come across a few things I would like to characterize my life. I'm sure this will change, as different phases of life naturally lead to (and even require) different values.

Passion. Focus. Consistency.

There are people I know who are fired-up kinds of people. They seem to stir up enthusiasm in whatever they do. It's a contagious energy that just kind of floats around like a cloud. Not just rah-rah, fun excitement, but the kind of person that makes you care about the things they care about. And not because they say you should care, but because you see how much they care. I want to be a person characterized as passionate.

Focus seems to be a rare animal these days. In a world of busyness and multi-tasking, people and media are constantly vying for our attention. People grow up learning how to do a mental juggling act. And there's probably something to be said for being able to confidently and competently juggling several things at a time because life comes at you fast. But there's also something to be said for focus, for directing energy and effort in one direction for a greater impact. It's the difference in hunting with a shotgun and hunting with a rifle (and yes, I suppose the risk is that with a rifle you could miss altogether, whereas with a shotgun, if you're a little off some of the pellets would still hit your target - but is that really the best way to go through life, hedging your bets hoping you get it a little right?)

I'm naturally laid-back most of the time. And I say that, but I'm also a bit of a perfectionist sometimes. So I live with this odd tension of personalities. And sometimes it frustrates even me. Sometimes I've the drive and determination of the best 'type A' personality you can think of. Other times, I question the importance of getting all worked up and could be content just laying back and rolling with the punches, 'type B'. But I'm seeing more and more the value of consistency in my habits and actions. I'm growing to have a greater appreciation for consistency. There's a certain dependability that comes from consistency, and I want to be dependable. There's a certain clean-ness and crisp-ness in a life lived with consistency. There's credibility and integrity in a life lived with consistency. I'm hoping that I can more and more structure areas of my life that lead to consistency in the important stuff. That's going to mean creating new habits and breaking old habits and hanging on tight to some things and turning loose of other things. I would like to be a disciplined person, and it takes discipline to be consistent. (and yes, I feel there's something to be said about typing this 'I-want-to-be-more-consistent' after taking a few weeks off of posting blogs... but I'm not going to say it.)

So, those are the values I think I'm taking aim at. Passion. Focus. Consistency. I can picture how those three values would shape a life that's effective. I can see how those would add value to the lives I interact with. I can see how I possess each of these to a degree, and where I can grow into each of these more fully.

I'm sure there are thousands of values people could place on their lives or on the life of an organization. What would you stake a claim to as your values, things you hold dear or would like to grow into?

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