In a recent planning session, a friend wanted to find out what my core values were. I’m embarrassed to say I couldn’t state them immediately. I had to think a little bit before I said something like truth and art and that sort of thing. My friend then asked what sort of scenarios or events or even people made me angry. And I knew the answer to that immediately. Injustice makes me angry, specifically when somebody is controlling and takes away the will of an innocent person. People who don’t know boundaries make me angry. Bullies make me angry, and I have no problem standing up to them. From there, my friend helped me create a list of core values, which were justice, truth and freedom. Very American, I suppose.
What was most interesting, though, is that the stories I tell out of my core values are going to be better because they are taylor made for me. If I work on books and projects that set people free from manipulation and lies, from bullies, my projects will be fueled by who I am and my story will be authentic. And the opposite is also true. If I work on projects that are not out of my core values, the work is sluggish and hard and feels like, well, work.
I wonder how many people have yet to identify their core values and are working on projects that aren’t connected to their hearts?
In Million Miles, I write about the importance of a character having strong sense of ethics in order to live a better story and limited the section on character to that idea, but for the upcoming seminar, I’m enjoying exploring more tools that helps us understand who we are and how we are wired. A person coming to understand their own core values is critical, I believe, to living a great story. At the seminar, I’ll be calling on people to come on stage so we can better understand how they are wired, and show on a white board how to use their own personality to create great stories.
So, the question is, what circumstances and situations make you mad? Are you angry about the oil spill? Perhaps beauty and the creation/conservation of beauty is important. Does ignorance make you angry? Perhaps education is a core value. As my friend David Quesenbury says, Let it turn, let the anger turn. And by that he means let the anger turn into something good and productive. And by that he is also sarcastically quoting the 80′s movie Red Dawn.
So, mine the things that make you angry and find the core values you can use to tell a great story.
Hoping to see you at the seminar in September!