The title is what we were, are and will ever and always be! Three words but humanity is encapsulated into this frame, try it the way you want to! Join me for a short piece as we try to explore and understand what is this conflict of values all about and why does it play a vital role that it does!
Ever since we are able to make sense and through our formative years, we are always told about values, beliefs and way of life which is supposed to be “the way” and perhaps in a few extreme cases , “the only way” to live and go about our lives! Well so far so good, as long as you see this concept in isolation, one person’s truth remains to be with that person in the confines that the person is going about their lives! The fun really starts as people begin to cross your path and if you are blessed even with an average working brain- you are all set for the proverbial, “conflict of values” and this is where people are formed and destroyed, rise up or are buried into the oblivion, because when it comes to the conflict of values, it is never about whose value is better over the other, rather it is about how well is an individual’s value able to stand the test of time and competing values to keep your persona steady and on the chosen path that you have set out to tread upon! Let me explain this space for you!
You see, as individuals, we are indoctrinated with the values that are handed over to us from our family or the immediate impacting surroundings that may be surrounding us, as we make progress and begin to meet others, we become more and more familiar with what the other person’s values are, we do, what I call is a “value trade off”- remember the school days- something like those play dates, sharing of cup cakes kind of thing- ya, real cute bits like that- we basically start to gravitate to values which make our life easy- easy to manage, progress and maneuver and that’s how it is with each one of us- trust me there is nothing wrong and right about this bit. By now, you may want to ask, if we are all a mixture of traded values in terms of personality- why do we then end up being so different from each other- so much of individuality? Well, the answer is that depends on how you apply the values to what you do as you go about your life! You see values are like the proverbial double edged sword- it can cut the veggies for you and it can cut you as food for someone else! So our individualistic discerning mind, applied to the values that we hold in a context that we god about living our lives, is what we are- as a sum total of all of these variables! Each time either the value, the mind or the contextual settings are altered – you will no longer tend to remain who you are and you will experience a personality shift and that is how we come to the next bit of Value types!
If you ask me, knowing that I really like to keep things simple, I see Values only of two types- Negotiable and Non-Negotiable. Primarily negotiable values are those where you are ready to cross that line of social behaviour or approach to ensure something gets done- without inviting collateral damage or harm and whatever that is is manageable. Non-Negotiable Values are basically your personification- you in Action- and these are something that you are not ready under any amount of pressure to give up – even if that were to cause danger to your very existence! Consider this, say you imbibe the value of liberty and security of your nation- would you be ready to die, if asked to? Well, if that’s your non-negotiable value- you would certainly go all the way to be remembered as a fallen hero than rather live like a hopeless and coward member of an enslaved society. Consider another example, you believe that you will not pay bribes if found violating traffic signals and just as you had it, you are racing for that all important meeting and now, you have a choice, either follow the rule, leave your vehicle, miss that million dollar deal meeting, perhaps loose your job and walk your way home, or slide in that dollar, apologize a hundred times (be honest about that!) and get to that meeting and as you end your day, thank the Lord for being kind, you cracked the deal, made your money, still have your job and have your vehicle! You perhaps still feel guilty about paying that bribe- but than you see the entire context around it and settle down promising yourself never to anything like that ever again! So what do you think you would have done- something similar right? Well, sure enough- see as humans we are hardwired to ensure that we survive and in the modern day context our survival is no longer the wild animals and mad race to tame the world- it is about ensuring that we are able to sustain and progress the lifestyle that we have chosen or aspire to have and for doing that we utilize our value system as an internal gyroscope. Every time our values are challenged or end up in a conflict with another person’s (as it will normally be that way- unless you are that crazy scientist or that gifted surgeon- working away individually) we have life changing events and manifestations coming to the fore and these either form us or break us either-ways redefining who we are!
A lot of politics, conflicts and corporate bitching that goes on in this world , is nothing but the cloaked presence of these conflicting values! You see you have a manager that you report into who believes to that Tea is better than Coffee and hence all Tea drinkers are better than Coffee and you just mentioned to him the other day – how much you love your Coffee and how you are ready to even kill someone for that! (well this is just an example!). So, what you have now done is opened up a Pandora’s box to compete and pit values against each other and this is where the funnier part begins to get dangerous! Offices are replete with examples how, conflicts ensues from reasons ranging from email drafting, to picking up the phone in three rings , to wearing the ID in a particular manner and so on and so forth- these are all nothing more but manifestation of Value Conflicts- where the one who can impose their values on to other s always seems to be getting the upper hand! Well there is nothing wrong and right about this, as I said earlier, many organisations have this whole space around storming, norming an forming to being in congruence and alignment among people of a team. That works well only and only if there is enough space allowed for individual non-negotiable values to co-exist alongside non-negotiable values of the team or the organisation as the case may be! Let me explain!
Consider you run a design studio and have a bunch of design geeks with you, as crazy as they would be- not to forget each strong and rooted in their own individual design philosophy- so now if this organisation has to make any progress even for an inch ahead- it has always to remember to value the intrinsic value systems that these strong individuals hold and always work to ensure that these individual values align , co-exist and are applied to meet the organisational value systems that it may have etched itself with as far as design sensibilities and approach to design goes! As long as this is done and every individual gets that freedom around , there will be magic coming through their work, on the contrary if that individual value st system is stiffed and people are made to work to corporate templates and design manuals- in not time- whether you work for a burger company or an automobile company everything will begin to look the same! So should conflict of values be avoided? Certainly not!
In fact conflict of values is something that should be embraced and encouraged (but not intentionally planted or created for the heck of it). As we grow, not all values that we hold remain dear to us with the same intensity! You may have negotiable ones’ becoming non-negotiable, few may fade away, new ones’ would come in, that is what is reflected the way we mature and grow and how much of maturity, sanity and wisdom we bring to life is nothing but the aggregation of the values that we hold within us in that movement of time! We are constantly forming, day in, day out at times consciously and yet at other times unconsciously, we are receiving and giving away our feelers to the universe and everyone around us that’s how we begin to like whom we hate, dislike whom we adored and so on and so forth, that dynamism is the essence of human progress and growth! As long as you are able to create competition among values that individuals bring with them in a manner that helps these values compete and align to a greater cause and eventually either become something else which benefits all, everything is fine and helpful! However when these very values embark upon dangerous ego rides and get hitched on the wrong shoulders, disasters happen and that is when you have organisations folding up, nations going to war and society getting ripped apart! So what’s the final word? Here you go!
All of us, You, and I included are nothing but an act of our values within- how we present ourselves to the world personifies what we have within and who we are, sure enough not everyone will be able to see as we want them to look at us and that is a different challenge of perception (will talk about that some other time!). More importantly we are constantly changing as far as peripheral values are concerned- core perhaps will not change (unless you have really survived something nasty!) and that dynamism of values is vital to keep your presence as vibrant as it should be so that relevance and acceptance go hand in hand wherever you choose to project yourself! When your values get into conflict, You will always be the winner irrespective if your values stay, get altered or you acquire news ones’ for the older ones’ you had , as long as your mind is aligned to utilize those values for the causes that serve the greater good! You see copper sulfate is a great insecticide but if you forget to wash your fruits coated with it, you will end up having home runs to the washroom for a day at least!
Values are absolute, no two values are ever equal, because no two people holding them are ever the same! Once you have known this secret, you have aligned your life for the greater good, with a soul that yearns to embrace the conflict of values to form and forge you ever more, one moment unto the next so that you continue to be who you are, adding up what serves you and doing away with all that threatens to harm you or weigh you down!
I will leave you here with these thoughts, urging you to get in touch with the values that you hold within- which are negotiable, which aren’t, how do they make you- who you are in the now that you exist and how you plan to embrace the conflict of values as your venture out to meet new people, friends sand colleagues to make the world a shade better than what it was yesterday!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one! Until than stay safe, Stay wise and stay authentic!