The Power is out – send everyone home!

“The power is out – send everyone home”.  This was my greeting one morning when I arrived in the office years ago.  My reaction was “hell no!” because we had customers who depended on us and closing up shop just wasn’t an option!

It become obvious that it was just our building that was out while other buildings around us were enjoying electricity as per normal.  People stepped up with ideas and one of them was to run some extension cords from adjacent buildings and at least get a core of systems and phones working.  It was a workable idea and while one person zoomed off to buy extension cords others assembled power bars and grouped the right stuff together.  Still others went canvasing and came back with agreements to run cords through windows and across parking lots.  We were up within the hour just as the phones started to ring for the day.

We were a young company and we learned an amazing amount about ourselves that day.  In a funny way I loved that day because it brought out the best in us but I felt guilty about how much I enjoyed the crisis.

According the the founder of ValuesOnline, Jan Mattson, “Living authentically implies: knowing your values, their origin and importance; and having the courage and will to live and prioritize according to those values – at home, at work and in society, irrespective of consequences.”   Ok, great statement but how do we clearly identify our values and make the association to living authentically?

I took the Values ranking offered by ValuesOnline in 2006.  Recently my curiosity caused me to re-do the ranking.  I went through the process of comparing my views on various values and I was surprised to see the consistency and what had changed.  I have heard many times that core values never change but my own experience shows some values grow in importance while others lose prominence.


The value that drives me in the most significant way is Mentor.  ValuesOnline defines it this way, “Mentor, advise, counsel, and teach individuals in discovering and expressing their talents and intelligence”.  Any day that involves an opportunity to mentor or help someone to grow as an individual or a leader is a good day for me.

Some of the greatest growth comes clothed in a crisis.   So it makes sense to me that I enjoyed the great power outage!  People were learning.  Leaders were learning to lead in a crisis.  We grew as an organization because we gained the confidence that we could handle curve balls and still serve our customers.  There was ample opportunity to coach people through how they handled the situation and what they needed to do differently in the future – a veritable treasure trove of mentoring.

At Softchoice we do performance reviews twice a year.  It is an incredible amount of work but I love it.  I love having great and meaningful conversations with people about how they see the world and how they view their development challenges.  Clearly an indication that meaning for me is derived from living my value of “mentor”.  The good news is that it doesn’t take courage because in a growing company this is a significant skill to employ if you want to grow successfully.


In the 2012 values ranking I am obviously shifting slightly.  Other Values that have moved up in importance are:

Transform (Definition: Transform and fundamentally alter relationships through the intentional use of everday language and metaphors) and;

Develop (Definition: Develop, grow and evolve complex economic, organic and human systems utilizing life cycle knowledge).

Maybe the best evidence of these values moving up in importance is the writing of this Blog.  I believe that brand transformation requires the transformation of a company’s culture and that can only be accomplished by understanding values and beliefs because values and beliefs create the behaviours which create culture!  Does that sound like Transform and Develop?

The Challenge

Get clear about your values.  Draw a direct relationship between your values and your day-to-day activities.  Is what’s important to you evident in your life?  What are your “the power is out, send everyone home” moments that bring meaning to your day?   Is there someone in your life that is not living fully and you could encourage them to live their values?

Categories: Values and BeliefsTags: , , , ,

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