$ vs.<3

“People pay for what they do, and still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it simply: by the lives they lead.”
~ James Baldwin

IMG_9474I’m co-facilitating an independent study, graduate-level class on the theme of “Social Media & Leadership,” for a MA in Transformational Leadership student at Seattle University this quarter. Annie (pictured left) is an artful videographer and photographer, the eye and passion behind newly emerging Bella Luna Films. Yesterday, a chunk of our conversation swirled around her own personal brand as she is building her business and making decisions about projects and offers.

Where does $ intersect with <3? (Yes, ❤ = the heart emoji shorthand.)

  • On the personal level: Have I defined for myself where my heart is? How can I get paid for what I’m passionate about? Where do I decide to do what I’m passionate about, regardless of the paycheck?
  • On the business leadership level: How can we coexist in the world of $ with <3? Where do we prioritize projects and initiatives with heart, even if the return on investment (ROI) is less definite?
  • In both arenas, regarding brand leadership and identity: If we’re honest, where is heart more compelling than run-of-the-mill tactics to make noise and flash bling for market attention? Where do we “pay for” a lack of heart in ways other than financially? Where does heart intersect with our brand values to an extent that is unavoidable?

Current pop philosophy buzzes around the concepts of “Saying Yes & No” based on your values (Hell yeah / F#@% yes / Hell yes / “Yes Man“). Just a few days ago, the New York Times published a pop-philo/psych article of its own on the topic. The concepts are interesting while driving in the car listening to a podcast, but a bit more risk-laden when they are applied to our decision-making about our business ventures and bottom line benchmarks.

IMG_9480I recently engaged the classic and timeless “Value Card Exercise,” which has been around for decades. There’s a PDF version, as well as other widget versions with slight variation in content. I did both, and typed out what emerged. I carry them around in my wallet, and have them framed in my office.

I’ve taken enough counseling classes and read enough books to know that humans make decisions based on our values. Whether we like it or not, we orient our lives around what is designated most important.

James Baldwin‘s words at the top of this post came across my Facebook feed while I was writing this very blog post. It’s amazing how when you’re taking something very seriously in life, other individuals (even those past and present) come alongside and join you. Annie and I joined each other in this yesterday, and James Baldwin today.

Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” traced out in 1890 what James Baldwin pointed to in 1972. It’s a timeless truth that if we don’t live aligned to our true, elemental values, a day will come when we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. Sure, there’s a line between who we are and where we work. However, that line is blurred more than we want it to. Maybe that’s where practicing an intentional Yes & No in our decisions about where we work, what we do, and where we orient our time and energy becomes all the more important.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 12.04.52 PMGreg introduced filmmaker Eliot Rausch‘s work to me this past month. Rausch created this artful snapshot of life values in action: “El Pescador.” Annie and I watched it together the last time we met, and it came up again in our conversation yesterday.

Another question emerges for me… Where in our lives have we over-emphasized $ when we will be far more fulfilled (and even more successful) with <3?

Interested in more on the topic of values? Check out the links to the value card exercise in-line above. Some other interesting google-able subtopics: Generational differences in values + Life stage correlation with values (Start with Erikson, when it comes to life stage).

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