Here’s one of mine:

core values
What are your core values?

I remember the first job I had when I left home: Lyon’s Restaurant, Santa Rosa, CA. Eighteen years old and launching my life. I walked into that coffee shop and applied for a job as a server. The manager looked me up and down and said that he couldn’t offer me a server job but . . . and he handed me a brown, polyester zippered jacket: the uniform of the busser. For the next year, I bussed tables for Lyon’s.Every few months I would approach the manager with my request to become a server. And each time he told me that the next time an opening appeared, I would get it. But each time an opening did appear, I didn’t get it. The job went to another person. I didn’t understand and I become very flustered.

One day there was a commotion in the back kitchen. People were crowded together at the dishwashing station. I stood on tip toe to see what was up. The dishwasher wasn’t working and the dishes were piling high. The manager was flustered and upset.

In that moment I remembered my very first job. When I was fifteen I worked in the scullery at church camp. Weekends and summers I was up to my knees and armpits in the most foul-smelling garbage you can imagine. We washed dishes for three meals a day, 200 – 300 people at a time. But the truth? I loved that job. I loved my friends. We played games. We sang songs. We figured out ways to make the work pass quickly and joyfully.  There was a lot of camaraderie in that scullery.

Back in Lyon’s kitchen, the piling dishes became a serious problem, and against my better judgment and in a fit of team spirit, I squeaked, “I know how to do that.” And so I became the dishwasher at Lyon’s restaurant.

It took me another six months before I again approached the manager about that gosh darned server job. I’ll never forget his response. He said, “But . . . you are such a great dishwasher.” And I’ll never forget my reaction. (Please don’t tell my kids.) I unzipped my brown, polyester jacket and I walked out of Lyon’s for good.

What is the difference between these two jobs? For me: R-E-S-P-E-C-T with a great big dose of cooperation, fairness and honesty. When I look at everything I’ve done in my life since that time, I think about these values being core to everything I admire and everything I’ve been proud to create or be a part of.

 What are Core Values?

  • Principles without which life wouldn’t be worth living.
  • They are universal and cut across all cultures.
  • They make you proud.

Next I am going to write about how you can be sure which values are truly your core values. In the meantime, tell me one of your stories?

 Listening to and for core values impacts the power of your relationships.

Dave Logan, Tribal Leadership

Ruth Schwartz

Ruth Schwartz is the author of "The Key to the Golden Handcuffs". She is a high performance business consultant and leadership coach. Connect with Ruth to participate in the conversation. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube .