Saturday, May 8, 2010

The single overwhelming value...

... that dominates everything in my life is...

I create beauty.

That beauty may be in many different forms
• A comfortable room glowing with warm woods and colors
• A perfectly arranged vignette on a side table
• A painting (pastels are my medium of choice)
• A computer program that executes accurately and efficiently and whose code makes beautiful patterns on the page (e.g. cascading indentations that make the code more readable and easy to understand)
• A perfectly organized and arranged desk, bookshelf, closet, fill-in-the-blank
• A perfectly balanced checkbook
• A newsletter that is fun, informative, and easy to read
• A perfect outfit complete with accessories
• The perfect touch of makeup
• The colors, fonts, and layouts of this blog

How did I realize that this value is what drives almost everything I do?

A long time ago at a company far far away I was going through a workbook on organizational change that included a section on values. There were pages of neat little squares printed with values and their definitions from numerous categories like family, money, work, and so forth, and they could be cut apart. The exercise was to take these squares (there were around fifty) and arrange them according to certain priorities. I was truly struggling with this process. Every way I looked at it different values seemed to float to the top. Then my manager walked by and said that he had done something similar during an off-site seminar, except they had to come up with only one value as their tip-top most important one of all time.

As soon as he said that, I knew what mine was. There was one card labeled “Aesthetic”, having to do with beauty, with the appreciation and creation of beauty. And I realized that I have a need to instill beauty in everything I do. It is something that I can’t NOT do.

I was able to look back at the items listed above, along with many others, and see how this need to create beauty had expressed itself over and over again.

Now I’m not sure that “the need to create beauty” could technically be considered a “value”, but for me it is certainly the driving force in my life. And discovering that gave me peace in some unexpected ways.

For example, at the time I was completing this workbook I was totally and completely bored at work, questioning my career decisions, and going through books like What Color is my Parachute in an effort to find something else I “should” be doing. When I had the revelation about ‘creating beauty’ I could suddenly see that which particular profession I pursued was a second place consideration. I didn’t have to be an interior designer or an artist or a dancer. I can find ways to ‘create beauty’ no matter where I work or what I do – and I always have. I just didn’t realize it.

And it also gave me the freedom to design and paint and dance without feeling that I had to be good enough at it to make it my profession and earn enough money at it to support my family.

And it gave me more satisfaction because I could – finally – consciously – choose to create beauty anywhere and everywhere. Maybe in something as small as arranging the items on a restaurant table in a pleasing way. They would be rearranged, of course, as soon as the table was cleared, but in the meantime it made my dinner a little more pleasant. Or maybe in something as large as finding something to do in a club for something in which I had no interest.

Okay, three ‘somethings’ in that sentence makes it non-understandable. What I mean is that Bar’s dad had a hobby that I didn’t share, but he wanted me along because, well, a lot of reasons that I won’t go into here. This is a world-wide hobby, BTW. And they, along with every other club in the nation and the world, produced a newsletter. And theirs was absolutely wretched. I volunteered to take it over. After they recovered from their shock they agreed. And I turned that newsletter into a fun, informative, easy to read (see list above) item that drew accolades from clubs across the country. And it was visually appealing; a thing of beauty.

So that is my number one value. What’s yours?


P.S.  Yes, the former post containing the on-line poll was what got me started thinking about 'values' again.  And "If it's not yours, don't touch it." is still important to me.  But 'creating beauty' trumps everything. 

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