I listened as another described their company. “We are intentional about who and what we are. We invest in our culture. Whatever it is that we are, it is intentional. We believe it is important. It defines the company to those within. It shapes how we behave and in turn how we serve our customers.”
The individual is in a senior leadership position. The words reflect something that many talk about yet few practice. Organizations of all types profess that their culture, how relationships are defined and work, internally and externally, reflects the values and priorities that company holds. When you speak with the people inside they know, you know, that there is little resemblance between the words printed in the annual report and found on the website and the daily experience. It is as if the words are a myth that they have learned to parrot. They mouth the words knowing they are empty shells without meaning.
There was no representation that they had arrived. The conversation clearly spoke of a work in progress. They were investing. They were holding each other accountable. They were looking for others that believed. There were conflicts along the way. Candidly, they were dealing with some now.
In an old story, the narrator observed that “God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.” (1 Corinthians 5.13) In our conversation, it was the same story repeated generations later.
Today is a new day, filled with opportunities and windows. We have the opportunity to write a fresh chapter. We do not control the characters in our story. We do have the freedom to write our story lines. In listening to another describe their community, I was reminded of the importance that my community has in my life. I need to hear their voice. This is not about giving up freedom. Rather, it is embracing my freedom with the wisdom of others. Knowing the measurements of our values and priorities helps as we reach for more.