How do you like that title? It’s from Organizational Theorist Kenichi Ohmae about the difference between being efficient and being effective.
You may have read my article from last week entitled, “Come Together, Right Now, for Your Community.” (1) I received many ‘Atta boys’ on it. You may have noticed that I kept using the word ‘values’ in various forms in the article. I used phrases like character core values, traditional values, church-contributed values, and essential enabling values. Let’s explore the importance of values that enable us to be both efficient and effective.
Let’s say you are a leader in any organization. You are trying to get a job done efficiently and effectively. Which would you rather have? An employee who is alert or careless? A teacher who is compassionate or indifferent? A city employee who is diligent or slothful? A bank employee who is orderly or confused? A news anchor who is thorough or incomplete and rash?
As an employee, which would you rather have? An employer who is generous or stingy? A school principal who is attentive or distracted? A politician who is consistently deceptive or who is consistently truthful? A city manager who is wise or foolish?
I think you get the message. Most of you would want these kinds of values when it comes to you and what’s best for everyone. These values are not old-fashioned or irrelevant. They are God-fashioned when used correctly and wisely. Allow me to explain why these true, honorable, right, pure, and just values work for us.
Years ago, I was speaking at a large church in Nakuru, Kenya. It was right before the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, in 2000. It was my eighth time in Kenya. Kenyan people are so full of life and vision. They believe it and talk about it, but there's just one problem. Many never achieve their vision. Of course, this is not a Kenya problem only. Many people can "tell-a-vision" but struggle with "doing-a-vision."
Realizing that Kenyans' national source of pride every four years is winning the marathon in the Olympics, I made a point that helped them to understand how vision and values work together. As I stood in front of 1,000+ Kenyans at a public meeting in a movie theatre, I asked the following question. "How many Kenyans here have a vision of winning the marathon in the Olympics this year?" Without one bit of hesitation, the crowd stood up and cheered for fifteen minutes. They all had the vision! Then I asked the next question. "And, how many here believe that Kenyans have it in their DNA to win the marathon?" We had another 15-minute revival!
Now came the next question. "Now, let's take a Kenyan. He has the vision to win the marathon, and he has it in his DNA to win the marathon, but he never practices. Will he get to his vision of winning the marathon?" A hush fell over the crowd. There was no more revival. They were quiet because they had an ‘aha’ moment, a revelation revival.
Here's a lesson we need to learn. You can have a great vision, you can even have it in your DNA to succeed, but if you don't have the right internal values, your vision will not become a reality. In the Kenyan case, he or she has a great vision, they certainly have it in their DNA, but their lack of discipline will disable their dream of winning the marathon every time.
Let's apply this lesson to our lives. While our desires or goals are vision-focused, they are values-driven. Values can be the best friend or the worst enemy of a vision. Many of us want to be successful but lack the appropriate values required to get us there. Values drive behavior, as well as the outcome. Values are deeply held convictions or standards.
Our internal values affect decision making, risk-taking, goal-setting, conflict resolution, problem-solving, priorities determination, role clarification, and resource utilization. Vision inspires people, that’s output. Values enable the execution of the vision; that's the outcome.
How do you turn unfulfilled potential into fulfilled reality? You need to have the right values that transport you to your desired vision. That's the way God designed us to work. The Kenyan man or woman could significantly increase their probability of winning the Olympic marathon by embracing the value of self-discipline and making it a core value. Discipline is the root. Winning the Olympics in the Marathon is the fruit.
In fact, in the year 2000 at the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Kenyans were first, second and third in the marathon. They moved from tell-a-vision to do-a-vision. How? They had a vision, the internal makeup, and the values necessary to win the marathon. They moved from inspiration to achieving their aspiration through preparation and perspiration.
Just like the Kenyan trying to win the Olympics in the marathon but never practicing, the United States is at a crucial junction in which values it chooses in its leaders. Be careful, not careless with your choice.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “To educate a man in mind but not in morals (values), is to educate a menace to society.” Lindsay White of Costa’s Fresh Produce says: "We used to hire people for their skills, but we found we were firing them for character issues. Now we hire for their character (values) and train for skills."
Remember, a vision unmanaged leads to frustration, especially to aspiring young Kenyans and Americans. Why? It's rowing the boat in the wrong direction.