Respect—To show deferential regard
Living with respect requires keeping up with two equivalent goals; respect for yourself, and respect for others. To say that I respect others means I value their differences and their right to independent thoughts. It is difficult—dare I say impossible--to have respect without tolerance. And the capacity to tolerate others derives directly from a high level of self-respect. I best understood the concept of self-respect when I learned to trust my insight. Not my gut reaction, but my ability to derive a well thought out position, resistant to challenge from others and capable of evolving with new information. I became comfortable saying, “Given the available information, I think that...” Although two goals exist, there can be no trade-off of one for the other. Consequently, I require respect as much as I provide respect in all my interactions.
In practice, it is rare for me to judge the worth or value of a stranger’s choices, and rarely will I advocate one behavior over another. Help or counsel with strangers, when asked, is generously provided, but help, unsolicited, is rarely delivered.
Integrity—Adherence to an ethical code that delivers profitable relationships
In any discussion of integrity, my definition of “profitable relationships” becomes central. When people enter a relationship, both people have expectations of gaining from the interaction. Therefore, profitable relationships are those where both parties expectations are favorably met. Hence, for me to behave with integrity requires that I work hard to deliver something of value (as defined by the other person) in all my interactions.
Striving for this value requires that I work hard at knowing what I can bring of value to each relationship and what I’m looking for in my relationships. Alternatively, I do not strive to meet the demands of others at all costs. Simply pleasing others would not be profitable for me. Thus living with integrity, means that I seek clarity of expectations, rather than performing and hoping intentions are not misconstrued.
Empathy—Having compassion and understanding for the position and circumstances of others
Living with empathy enables me to have a healthy coexistence with others. As I have aged and appreciated the importance of living with empathy, I notice that listening takes on new qualities. Now, I understand that to listen to someone requires valuing them as a person, an individual who can make a positive contribution. Thus living with empathy requires me to look for the good in others, to search for alternative explanations, and to hesitate when facing the unknown.
Competence—The quality of being well qualified
As I see life, if you accept a responsibility it is your duty to discharge that responsibility with competence. If additional knowledge is needed, then go get the knowledge. Importantly though, having competence does not imply that your decisions will always be correct. When faced with uncertainty, it is foolhardy to ignore the possibility of failure. No, having competence implies that we consider all available information and risks appropriately, and that care is taken in meeting fiduciary obligations.
In my attempt to stay competent, I mean to imply a high degree of intellectual curiosity, and a mindset that views failure as a short-term learning opportunity. It also implies a willingness to assess weaknesses, and derive development plans to address weaknesses where needed.
Trustworthiness—Earning faith and confidence from others so there exist permission to fail
The goal of my actions is to earn someone else’s trust. I consider this a stiff challenge, but wholly consistent with who I am. When I hear someone say, “you don’t trust me,” it always triggers a thought of this value. For I don’t accept that trust should be given to me, nor that I am owed trust because of my past actions. Earning trust is forward looking in perspective, and something you don’t question. A person always has the option to trust you, and their actions often make obvious their decision. To earn their trust then implies that you can recognize the arenas where you are not trusted, and if appropriate, go out an get the credentials and credibility needed to earn the desired trust on the next opportunity.