Finding Your ‘True North’

Is the life I’m living worth what I’m giving up to have it?
    Have you ever asked yourself that question? I have – lots of times! It’s not easy, but I nearly always end up going back to my ‘True North’ and that enables me to reorient myself and get back on track.
    If you are looking at a correctly calibrated compass, it will always point north. No matter what direction you turn, the compass will remain true to north – True North. For me, ‘True North’ is the deeply-held values that form the foundation for how I live my life and the choices I make. They define my “rules of engagement” when I interact with the world. When I find myself asking the question above, I go back to my core values and align myself to what’s most important in my life – my True North.   
    Several years ago, I spent a lot of time writing my values vision statement. I prioritized the values that were most important in my life and defined those values with specific examples, thus, making my Core Values. From there, I was able to etch out what those values looked like in my daily life, again, with specific examples – this became my Values Vision Statement.
    I keep both of these in a frame on my desk as a reminder of what’s most important in my life. I’m sharing my Core Values and my Values Vision Statement with you as encouragement and in hopes that you’ll do the same.
Core Values
Faith – standing firm in Christ, seeking the things of God first
Integrity – matching my actions to my words and promises, holding myself accountable and making amends as quickly as possible when I fall short
Gratitude – taking time daily to be thankful and appreciate my blessings
Family – having quality time with Bill, kids, grandkids and extended family
Love One Another – seeing all people through Jesus’ heart and eyes, respecting all
Courage – mastering my fears through trust in God
Generosity – sharing my resources, time and talent with those in need
Creativity – innovation, play, balance, finding joy, weaving
Values Vision Statement
I will put God first in my heart and life. This is evident when I spend time in rest, quiet, in prayer and when I love others, treating them with respect and compassion. I will walk with integrity, matching my actions with my values. I will spend quality time with Bill and create opportunities to be with family. Whatever happens, I am thankful for all I have been given. I will share my time, talent and treasure to help people grow, deepen and reach their full God-given potential. I will trust God for holy courage as I live out His calling on my life with joy and creativity.

Integrity=Pay for Performance

“Megan Sampson was named outstanding first-year teacher by the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English last week.

Second-year social studies teacher Kevin Condon, also at Bradley Tech High School, has four licenses and can command the attention of 40 students in an open-concept classroom.

Both are among 482 educators – more than 12% of the full-time teachers in the district – who have received layoff notices from Milwaukee Public Schools.”  (

Integrity is matching our actions to our words. So if we value education in this country, then we should be backing it up with our actions, not giving layoff notices to outstanding teachers because they don’t have seniority.  Last year the Los Angeles Times ranked 6000 elementary school teachers based on their students improvement from year to year on standardized tests  The ranking caused a furor with the union, which denounced the ratings as unfair.  (

The time for has come to hold teachers accountable for performance and to end tenure.    Teachers are our most valuable resource in our schools.  Let’s reward them for outstanding performance, not for length of service.  Creating a culture of accountability is one of the foundations to success and measurable results.   Our students deserve integrity in the our schools.   

What do you think about teacher tenure?

Can I lie about my current salary on a job interview?

 Can I lie about my current salary on a job interview?

 This question was the headline in a Real Simple magazine column on ethics.  The article says 1 in 6 people looking for a job has done just that and then goes on to recommend that you not lie.  The author of the column says its “inappropriate” to do so – then says if that’s not enough reason not to remember that you’ll probably get caught. 

 Nowhere in the article is there a discussion about lying just being wrong.  A company that has a core foundation of integrity simply doesn’t want someone who lies – they don’t walk the talk.  If you’ll lie about your salary, what else will you lie about after you’re hired?   

 While I realize that we’re all human and at some point we all lie – I’m was just taken aback that a major national magazine would actually use this question as a headline in a article on ethics.  I guess I was hoping it was pretty clear that lying was wrong. 

 What do you think?  Am I wearing rose colored glasses?

Do you remember when you first sold out?

 I don’t’, but I think that’s because I’ve sold out too many times in my life.  I remember the last one, though.  I disagreed with a colleague about a decision, but it was easier to go along than to argue about it.  Even though my gut told me it was wrong, I sold out.  In the end, and we made the wrong choice and paid a price.  My failure to challenge him was a failure in integrity.


One of the realities of business is that we make a profit, and with it feed our families.  But sometimes the bottom line becomes too important to us.  Next time I hear the phrase – “what’s the bottom line?”  I’m going to balance that need for profit with integrity, character, and humility.  As Jesus said, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul? “

 Today’s blog inspired by Higher Call

Integrity and the NPR ‘gotcha’ video


Two people have lost their jobs over the latest dust up at NPR – the executive in charge of fund development and the CEO.  In an age of cell phone camera videos and increasingly hidden technology, it becomes even more important for a company or organization to have core values that start at the top and are communicated to the entire workforce.  Had NPR sent a clear message about what they stood for and what their core values looked like in action, they probably would not have had a leader  caught in hidden video bashing one group of people to another group. 

 I’ve been blogging for the last two weeks about the importance of knowing what your top core values are.  That’s how you know what to do when the hard calls come.  It’s just as important for companies to have those values defined, communicated, and to hold employees accountable.  Jet Blue had a trainee and trainer lie about damage caused during the training.  The trainer said he was driving, when the trainee actually was.  Jet Blue made it clear that both violated their policy of honesty – and both lost their jobs.  Neither one would have had they simply admitted the mistake. 

 The executive at NPR faced a hard call – chase the money or have respect for all – no matter what.  In the end, we don’t really know what NPR’s core values are.  I don’t think he did either. 

Integrity Challenge #3

A men’s’ clothing company has a core value of building a team oriented, collective work environment for  employees.  They track the number of tickets written by each salesperson.  Over the last two weeks, the manager, John, notices that Stephen has written significantly more tickets than others salesmen n the store.  John suspects Stephen has been cutting out other salespeople.  What are John’s options for modeling the core values of the store?

Integrity Challenge #2

You are well liked in your job as manager.  You know people’s names, you’re out among the people your company serves; and you’re often at special community events.  It is well known among employees that you work long hours and you often call employees at home after 10 pm. Knowing the importance of family, you encourage employees to make a more balanced approach to work and you‘ve publicly told various employees you don’t expect them to work the long hours you do. At the end of your second year in tenure, the employee retention numbers show a marked increase in the number of employees who left your division. 

   What options do you have for solving this problem?  How does this relate to integrity?

Integrity Challenge- #1

A fork in the road requires you to make a decision.  We face decisions daily – it’s the little choices we make that add up to integrity.  When we know what our core values are, the challenge is to live them out in everyday life.  Over the next two weeks, I’ll share real life integrity challenges and let’s talk about what the right thing is to do.

 You are in line at a popular night club waiting to get in to see the place.  You’ve heard it’s a great, fun venue to experience while visiting the city.  The cover charge is $5 per person.  While in line, a man ahead of you tells you tell the doorman you’re here with the Knox party.  He says over 100 people are attending a birthday party upstairs and you are now one of the invited guests.  Drinks at his party are only 50 cents until 7 pm.  Do you use the name Knox to avoid the cover charge and get cheaper drinks? 

 What would you do?         How do you make your decision?

Falling Short on Integrity?

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest.  That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.”  -C.S. Lewis

 The only way I can make those little decisions with integrity is to know what is most important to me.  In the last post I encouraged you to identify your top values, rank them by priority and then write a values vision statement. That’s your true north.  But it’s also important to define what those values mean.  Here’s my definition of integrity – which is number 2 on my list.

 Integrity – matching my actions to my words and promises, holding myself accountable and making amends a quickly as possible when I fall short

 We’re all human – and we’ll all fall short.  A key part of integrity is what you do when that happens. 

How do you make amends?