I served at a previous university where there were ‘core values’ prominently displayed in the strategic plan and in other documents. I wrote a short entry about what those core values meant to me then, and want to share those here…updated.

My belief is that many places have core values they espouse, but few live them. Many people have core values they espouse; few live them.

They are typically just statements on a card.

If we truly lived our core values, what might that look like? Here are five from the past, along with some thinking about what living them may actually look like in practice.

Integrity: Open communication depicting who we are and what we believe. No hidden agendas; no deceit. No undermining of others. Consistency…going to others we disagree with and talking with them about those disagreements. Consistency…being personally responsible and accountable for every word and every action. Consistency…always looking for ways to improve conditions for others. Consistency…putting others first, not every now and then, but always. Consistency…always treating others with respect despite strong disagreements. Consistency.

Excellence: Holding ourselves and others to the highest possible standards of performance while understanding that this is an educational setting, so everything teaches and everything takes time to learn (consistency with patience). Viewing routine and mediocrity and acceptance of good as truly being the enemy of great. Determination to be the best in EVERY area we have responsibility for. My strongly stated opinion that you are free to disagree with is this: the only reason BSU isn’t the best in the world in some critical areas is because we put self-imposed limits on ourselves with our own thinking, i.e. blaming our inability to be GREAT in X area on lack of resources, lack of pay, lack of money, lack of will, lack of talent, not my area, not my job, it doesn’t help me get ahead…you name it. If we stop blaming and step up with determination to be the BEST at X and take action to get there, we will get there. You fill in the X. There are a lot of X’s out there that we can pursue. Do it one at the time, but do it.

Creativity: Taking calculated risks. Having the courage to voice an alternative viewpoint. Investing yourself in pushing the limits of your thinking. Challenging the way we do things by offering a new way to consider. Courage to be ridiculed, put down, viewed as odd.

Leadership: Practicing democratically based processes where decision making is shared without letting the majority decide to adopt harmful practices. Individual responsibility to step up and participate and be part of the solution, not part of the problem, while bringing others into the circle. Everyone participates; everyone engages; yet individuals are valued for their contributions. Serving others. Pushing others to excel without oppression. Not micromanaging others, but freeing others up to do their work by removing barriers, lightening their loads, supporting their efforts. See why good leadership is complex? And difficult? And scarce?

Collaboration: Inclusiveness. Bringing others to the table. At all times; in all places. Being invitational. Working for the good of others by partnering with unlikely partners at times. Always having the end in mind when at the table for the first time.

Those are my thoughts early on a Tuesday before a full day.

They could change….