Core Values/Truths Determine a Leader’s Actions

Spending 18 years working with the film industry taught this important principle – to know the heart of a character in a movie, don’t listen to the words but watch their actions. The members of an audience are extremely perceptive and they determine if a character is telling the truth by watching what they do. Movie writers and directors understand they must send their messages to the audience by allowing the audience to “see the actions” of the film’s characters by placing them in various situations that tell the whole story of who they really are. The members of the audience will determine their film character’s core truths/values by observing their actions all the way from an extreme act of bravery or cowardice to the most subtle eye movement or body language i.e. folding the arms or putting the hands in their pocket.

Films give their audience information about their characters by portraying them the way God created human beings. God created humans so that an individual’s actions are ultimately determined by the truths and values they hold at the core of their being. These truths/values are more powerful than the reality of the situation, potential for gain or fear of loss. A leader may be able to put their core truths on hold for a short period of time to please management or to meet a stated goal of an organization but ultimately the truths held at the core of their being are so powerful they will cause a leader to rescind a decision or leave a job so they act according to their core beliefs.

What is a core value/truth?

The word core is defined:  

  • The central part …
  • At the very center of or deep within …
  • The heart of …

The word values is defined: 

  • Having worth, merit or importance
  • Having principles

The word truth is defined: 

  • A statement or fact that corresponds to a proven actual fact or reality
  • A statement or fact that is believed to be true regardless of reality (No matter the facts or reality, what an individual believes to be true will dominate their actions until they accept a different truth.)

Core truths are the essential and enduring tenets for an individual or an organization – the guiding principles that have a profound impact on how you as the leader and everyone in the organization think and acts.

  • Core values (truths) require no external justification.
  • Core values have intrinsic value and are of significant importance to everyone who holds them as a truth.
  • Core values (truths) guide all actions.
  • Core truths are the determining factors in the character of a leader or the organization.
  • Core values are the fundamental beliefs and principles that are purposely selected to guide daily decisions.
  • The core truths define the enduring character of a leader or an organization – a consistent “identity” that transcends product and market life cycles, management fads, technological change, and individual leaders. The leader or the organization may develop new purposes, employ new strategies, re-engineer processes and significantly restructure; however, the identity and ideology remains intact.

How do core values function?

  • The actions of individuals are controlled at a subconscious level by what they hold at the center of their existence to be absolute truth.
  • When a core value becomes an undisputed truth to a leader, every decision that leads to an action, is made through the filter of the truth represented in the core value (truth).

Core values/truths are “king!”

  • If a “philosophy of life” conflicts with a core truth, the philosophy of life will eventually bow its knee to the core truth.
  • If a preferred “life style or leadership style” conflicts with a core truth, the preferred style will eventually bow its knee to the core truth.

How are core truths formed?

  • Truths are not always true. For example, when my father died I grieved and in my grief determined I never wanted to love anyone that much again because I did not want to deal with the pain that came when something happened to that person. I created a truth that I later had to deal with when my children were born. Until I changed the perceived truth I made at an emotional moment after my father’s death, I made subconscious decisions that kept my children at arm’s length. My truth created during an emotional moment was not really truth. It is too important to love your children with all your heart to create a lifetime of love than to keep them at arm’s length because of a potential moment of grief.
  • Beliefs created in a moment of intense emotion get through to the subconscious mind and readily become perceived truths i.e. the above example.
  • Beliefs that are reinforced or repeated help establish truths in the subconscious. For example, people who memorize and meditate on various passages from the Bible accept those items as true. The meditation, comparing this information to other truths, establishes the item as the dominant truth.
  • Beliefs that are reinforced by experience are reinforced in the subconscious mind. For example, I remember seeing a friend grieve at his mother’s funeral and it reinforced my “perceived” truth that I never wanted to love with all my heart so I would not be hurt again.

How are core truths changed?

  • First you need to determine that your core truth was established in error. This isn’t as difficult as it may sound.
    • Pay attention to your actions and evaluate them against Biblical principles you know are true. If you have accepted the Bible as ultimate truth when your actions do not match your Biblical truth you must see your personal truth as being in error.
    • When your actions create an extremely negative or positive emotion ask yourself questions:
      • What caused that extreme emotion? This just isn’t like me so why in this one situation do I want to act differently.
      • Am I generally the only person clinging to this position?
      • Is there a known standard I trust that I can compare my truth to i.e. the Bible?
      • Do I have conflicting truths? Is there one part of my personality that seems to be different than how I see myself in virtually every other situation i.e. why do I push my children away in certain situations when everything in me tells me to pull them close?
  • Once you discover a core truth that doesn’t hold up to God’s standards you must determine to change your core truth and be willing to do whatever it takes to make the change. Some practical ideas are:
    • Find a Bible verse that states the actual truth you know came from God and memorize that Scripture and meditate on it.
    • Reinforce the Biblical truth every time you fail. Different life circumstances may trigger the old truth and control your actions. Never allow your actions to go unchallenged by the new truth.
    • Imagine your mind’s memory banks similar to 2-3 thousand documents you have stored in your computer files. A truth may be stored in hundreds of these “mind documents” and need to be challenged each time your memory takes you to that old situation. Each time an old truth pops up it needs to be eradicated and replaced with the new truth. This is why individuals fail fairly often when they start replacing an old truth with a new truth but after a few months or years it is a rare occurrence to have the old truth control their actions.
  • Never let yourself take the easy way out even one time. When you fail, correct your behavior. Do the hard work of identifying the old truth and reinforcing the change you desire.