It is not difficult to determine what one cares about most.

Listen to the language used. Factor the tone.

Observe associations (who do I hang with). We almost always invest time doing what we most want to do with individuals whose values we share.

And, in the event there’s still doubt, observe how I talk about, relate to, and treat others when I don’t think you’re watching.

Key Performance Indicators

If we’re wondering about indicators of personal values and trustworthiness (are we really wondering?), here’s a bit of fodder for conversation.

  • If I willfully disrespect a person, whatever the reason, chances are I will disrespect anyone if the circumstance is right. What constitutes disrespect? See the rest of this list.
  • Any time I use a label to characterize an individual, I diminish the value of that human being.
  • When self interest defines behavior (versus acting in the interest of others) — at home, at work, or in any setting — my actions speak louder than any words…and I’ve just told you what is most important to me.
  • If my reason for not helping someone is they won’t appreciate it, or they’re where they are because they’re lazy, or somehow deserve their lot — I have conveniently forgotten the countless helping hands, cups of cold water,  and unconditional gifts I have received — many undeserved.
  • The instant I suggest I am self sufficient — in that moment I belie the fact that my world view is unthinkably narrow. And shallow.
  • If I am willing to betray the trust of one — to my personal benefit, or simply as a matter of convenience — I will betray the trust of anyonefor 30-pieces of silver, or less.

There is no doubt that when one chooses to operate in the interests of others one runs the risk of being taken advantage of. But for anyone who suggests they believe in the power of giving, this misses the point. Reward accrues to the individual extending the hand.

In what I found to be a powerful TED Talk, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks said this:

We the people’…says we share collective responsibility for our collective future…and when we move from the politics of ‘me’ to the politics of all of ‘us’ together, we rediscover those beautiful counter-intuitive truths: that a nation is strong when it cares for the weak; that it becomes rich when it cares for the poor; that it becomes invulnerable when it cares for the vulnerable. THAT is what makes great nations.”

The Proverb is often quoted; but is it convenient poetry? Or do we believe it? …It is in giving that we receive.