A couple weeks ago the company where I work sent me to a week-long leadership development program located in an isolated spot in Northwest Arkansas. I was told before I went that it would be an experience to help clarify personal and professional values, improve self-awareness, and identify blind spots. To say that I was apprehensive going into the week would be a colossal understatement. I envisioned a lot of sitting round camp fires, holding hands singing Kumbaya, and group sessions where we candidly shared our inner-most feelings. The introvert in me was shitting mental bricks! But continuing with my 2012 theme of making it uncomfortable in my comfort zone and recognizing this could be an excellent warm-up for my agent pitch a week later, I opened myself up for the adventure.
I’m happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed the week and even learned a couple things about myself! One of the exercises we were encouraged to do was take a hard look in the mirror, look past the awkward smile and other physicality, and take inventory of what our core values might be. I started out by listing between 20-30 of them, then slowly and meticulously narrowed the list to seven that I really felt passionate about. An important part of this whole process was remembering that true core values remain intact regardless of what else is going on around you, or to you. Imagine the mirror you’ve been staring into being flipped upside down, what happens to your reflection? It remains unchanged. Whatever is going on in the world around you that might change the orientation of that mirror, your image…your values, remain constant.
A lot is made sometimes about situational ethics, where the guidelines are flexible and the end can justify the means. But can our principles, our morals, afford the same latitude? Through our writing we often have the luxury of experiencing a different set of values with the characters we create, and we work hard to maintain believability by ensuring their actions stay true when their mirror flips. Is it right that we struggle to get those details just right, but then we waffle in our own lives?