What does Dylan Cornelius value? It took some time with, and even after executive coaching, to come up with this definitive short list.
Following are my values. They’re a guide for how I live my life. The list is a touchstone when I need focus or clarity. Each value inspires and is important to me.
The Short List
Over time, I’ve refined the list. As I’ve done so, I’ve found the values that inspire me most are adventure, health, fitness, service, and sustainability. I love that this is my list. I created it. It serves me (not the other way around), and I can update, revise, add, or subtract from it as I choose!
Review my values in depth below, or…
Use values as the inspiring guide in YOUR life.
My Values In Depth
I’m a proud member of the Sesame Street generation. The characters of Sesame Street encouraged cooperation, diversity, good manners, healthy eating, good hygiene, and respect for nature and the environment. These are the influences that shaped my values and this blog. The following values routinely come up in things I want, things I say, and things I do. They’re the values that shape my thoughts and my writing.
An adventure is an undertaking where the outcome is uncertain. If the outcome is predictable, the initiative may be a lot of things — difficult, valuable, important, weighty, significant — but it’s not an adventure. Ironically, for a corporate project to qualify for the US IRS Research and Experimentation Tax Credit, uncertain outcome is one of the primary requirements. For anyone who thinks engineering or business is boring, consider that sometimes R&D is adventure! Furthermore, this essay makes clear that entrepreneurship is adventurous also!
My Honey Bunny and I have intentionally begun a lifestyle of adventure, and our plan is to accelerate it. Week-long tours will give way to trips across US states and eventually countries and continents, on foot, by bike, by any means necessary.
I once heard Health described as what works and for as long. I know some who would call it integrity: a state of workability. Many think of it mostly as a biological state affecting how they feel, but it applies in any context: organizations, communication, relationships. Nothing is off-limits here.
Precipitant to my second mid-life crisis, I realized my family members and others tend to die of heart attacks and strokes. I resolved to be healthy and I became a runner (you can too). In the process, I experienced classic central Texas allergies as a result of being outside more often. Through the course of early treatment for that, and in response to a lifetime of digestive upset, I eventually received a diagnosis for an autoimmune condition. In the quest for a healthy diet for me, I then identified a bunch of digestive intolerances.
The good news is, in the process I learned a great deal about what represents health for me, and I learned a bunch of things that seem to be less healthy for me. Nothing I’ve experienced is terminal (other than the mere state of being alive), and I can control the symptoms of these conditions with daily lifestyle choices. The bad news is my autoimmune condition is exacerbated by the same things that cause issues for millions of people around the United States and the world. Overweight, insufficient movement, and other more insidious preventable causes, kill thousands of people, before they need to die, every day.
Fitness is a state of being appropriate and sufficient. This word has a broad range of uses and is overused to describe some heightened state of general health or athleticism. Fitness in even those terms simply means the ability to do what one wants to do. Many runners have a high level of fitness for running, but they’re terribly unfit as rock climbers, and vice versa.
In my inquiry into health, I found fitness in many areas that just weren’t going to happen for me otherwise. Today I enjoy triathlon, running, and tandem cyclingwith my Honey Bunny. We’re both members of Rogue Running and the Texas Beef Athletic Team. I’m a proud InsideTracker triathlete, and a member of Half Fanatics. We’re always looking for more connections and affiliations. If you have advice, information, or recommendations about these, please let us know in the comments below, via twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!
Tandem Cycling Rules!
Lori and I at Austin Half Marathon 2016
Service is the backbone of 12 step programs and fundamental to a balanced life that’s connected to others. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the wisdom in service over a more selfish and self-centered perspective and motive, until one’s life is literally falling apart for lack of community.
Ironically, and seemingly to prove the opposite, first aid teaches us to help ourselves first: if we haven’t laid a foundation for our own health and fitness, we’ll be of limited value to others, or we could even be hurt ourselves.
There’s wisdom in service, and there’s a need to take care of ourselves first. Properly balanced, everyone wins. One way to find the line is to consider the demarcation between service and over-service or excess. In everything I do, I seek to serve, and to find the way everyone can win. Win-win, or no deal.
A Servant staff member in the film Gosford Park made a brilliant statement about knowing what others needed even before they did. This requires self-knowledge and self-care, which are foundational skills to developing the insight and understanding that enables predicting what others need, and providing impeccable Service.
This word is too often overused as a “green” term, and it’s important in those terms, but also is important in organizations and budget management. Short term splurges can become unsustainable, and, if sustained, can be fatal. I’m committed to good things being sustainable, and I’m committed to creating mechanisms and processes that enable sustainability and efficiency.
There’s an Iroquois (native American) idea that leaders should plan for 7 generations in the future. This powerful guidance is intended to assure success and survival of the community. Others have demonstrated that choices poorly made can destroy entire civilizations in a few generations. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly work out for the Iroquois any more than it worked for the others. What went wrong? What can we learn from both and use for mutual benefit?
We must choose our future and take actions consistent with it. What do you want? I want to know I’ve left this earth and everything in it better than when I got here. Any other outcome means my life came at a net cost and had no positive impact. That could have happened entirely without my existence or participation or contribution. I’m committed to more than that: I believe we were all made for more. It’s up to us to find the courage to help each other find the courage, to make the world a little better each day.
Use values as a guide for your life
Others that made the first cut, but fell off the “short list”
Bob Dylan (who took his name from the same place my parents took mine) wrote “he not busy being born is busy dying.” The more I consider health and fitness, the more I see this as truth. Birth is the greatest growth experience, a transition from one stage of existence to a new, completely foreign one. I’ve seen in my life that if I’m not undertaking growth and renewal, I’m stagnating. There’s no middle stasis possible. Growth requires a relative state of health and fitness to be possible at all, and certainly it’s stressful, but it’s survivable.
On the other hand, growth can’t occur where circumstances prevent it, and one can intentionally cause growth to occur just as one can intentionally stifle it. Growth is unsustainable on a long enough timeline or great enough scale, without consistent intention to continue growing. It’s a constant in my life and the lives of those I keep around me. It’s simple enough, though not always easy and usually a little uncomfortable. By definition, growth requires us to abandon what we have for a new and uncertain future state. Sometimes the most rewarding growth opportunities occur as review and reconsideration of the things I’ve always ‘known’. They represent a choice to make myself uncomfortable and do something new and different.
Why Growth fell off the short list
Service and Adventure fulfill this value for me. I find that Service often challenges me to let go personal opinions and beliefs that are not serving me or others — or reshape them to fit an increasingly broad world. Adventure continually requires me to take on new practices, develop new skills. These things are the essence of Growth.
I learned late in life of the value of real gratitude. When I’m grateful, every day is a good day. When I’m not, I’m suffering the want and worry of scarcity and want. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be grateful. Gratitude ends suffering everywhere, everyday.
Why Gratitude fell off the short list
Service fulfills this value for me. I have seen that Gratitude is essential for Service. At its essence, Gratitude is about giving thanks and recognition to others for their contributions to my life. It is only in this same generous spirit that Service is possible. Any day I find myself uninspired to Serve, I know I am disconnected from Gratitude, and It’s time for me to make a list of the things for which I’m Grateful. An excellent tool for sustaining connection with Gratitude is the 5 Minute Journal.
There’s a saying that holding a grudge is like drinking poison. While it’s necessary to forgive repeatedly sometimes, the benefits are emotional freedom, tolerance, and peace of mind.
Why Forgiveness fell off the short list
Health, Service, and Adventure are my litmus tests for whether Forgiveness is present in my life. Forgiveness is essential for Health, Service, and Adventure. At its essence, Forgiveness is a generous action (note the word “give” hiding in plain sight at the end of its root, “forgive”). Forgiveness gives me the freedom from the constraints of a past that “should have” gone a different way. As long as I cannot forgive, I am stuck in my own misery, and I alone am holding myself there. The moment I forgive, I am free.
For me, Health is impossible without forgiveness. The sickest addicts I know are crippled by their unwillingness to forgive themselves or others for all manner of past events and perceptions.
Generosity is critical for Service, and even for Adventure. The more I allow myself to forgive, the greater my generosity. Without generosity, Service is certainly not possible. Who can Serve without giving? Further, generosity empowers grand Adventure. A real Adventure takes a team, and a functioning team requires a leader (and team members) who can generously enable others to be their best, recognize them for their contributions in those areas, then give them credit for their contributions in a manner they value.
Many believe they can’t — do this — or that — and I’m a voice for possibility and — YOU CAN! I’ve been there many times myself. In fact, I’m there most days, in one way or another. I’ve already written about some of my achievements:
- losing 50 pounds,
- running 5 marathons,
- completing a half Ironman triathlon,
- receiving awards for Age Group athletic high performance,
- riding my bicycle 300 miles in a week.
As I’ve described elsewhere, I didn’t start as a highly trained athlete — I started as an overweight, sedentary, addicted, middle-aged man with no real clue about healthy eating, healthy diet, or what was really best for me as me, not a population statistic. Everything I’ve accomplished was by extending my level of preparation, knowledge, or achievement a little at a time.
Why Competence fell off the short list
Fitness fulfills this value for me. I saw Fitness is all about being fit to perform or reach a desirable goal. Competence IS Fitness.
I intend this as a dialogue and a learning opportunity for me and you. As such, I appreciate your opinions and questions, challenges and recommendations, in mutual support. I fail if readers don’t get more than I do: I’ll keep sharing until they do. Let me know what you want and how I can help you get it.
Why Sharing fell off the short list
Service and Adventure fulfill this value for me. I saw that no Adventure is anything until it is shared. Adventure fulfills this value for me. Likewise, Service cannot happen without a willingness to Share.
In my personal quest for relevance, my intention is this online record will be one of many valuable artifacts of my time on the planet. I see the days pass and know the time left is ever more important and valuable. With that said, I intend to stretch it out as long as I can — 75 more years, at least!
Why Significance fell off the short list
Service and Adventure fulfill this value for me. I saw that Service and Adventure make a difference in the lives of others. This is the essence of significance. Service touches the lives of others in a way they value and maybe didn’t even realize could be helpful before the servant appeared. Adventure inspires others.
Contents of the blog may change as my understanding of my priorities shifts. However, I think this covers most of it, and it leaves ample flexibility for change, or response to uncertainty. I appreciate your thoughts about what makes sense and what’s interesting or valuable. I’m committed to what works, and I’ll find a way to create the most value for all.
Why Flexibility fell off the short list
Service and Adventure fulfill this value for me. I saw Flexibility is part and parcel of effective Service. Service requires selflessness, which requires an amazing amount of Flexibility. Flexibility is also inherent in Adventure. No adventure is fulfilled that does not stretch and challenge the adventurer.
In college I took a rhetoric class where we read the CIA’s Nicaragua Manual and I became aware of the intention by some to influence the thoughts and actions of others. I learned that people so intentioned can have an amazing, sometimes unbelievable, impact, both for good and bad. Every publisher’s goal is influence; the question is, “are they authentic about it?”. My writing, training, and coaching will be authentic. They’re designed to encourage and empower readers and customers in a way that supports their greatest aspirations! I’ll always leave comments on, so they can share whether I’m having the desired effect for us all.
Why Influence fell off the short list
Service and Adventure fulfill this value for me. I realized influence comes with effective Service. I realized adventure is attractive. When someone communicates about their Adventures (past, present, or future), they magically become influential.
I will be a positive voice for accurately perceiving all perspectives and creating systems that work in this world. Many sources encourage lifestyle choices that are just plain inappropriate for others. These voices are often stimulated by powerful corporations and lobbies with agendas, or liars and the misinformed. The most sophisticated among them use strategies and tactics like those described in the Nicaragua Manual, and other great books on influence, to great effect. My writing, courses, and coaching will discuss and expose these phenomena, teach my customers to observe them, and put them to use effectively in their own lives.
Why Objectivity fell off the short list
Service fulfills this value for me. I saw that Service requires clarity about what others want and need (the things that work), even before they do. Can you say which movie about a Victorian-era servant staff conveyed this message brilliantly? (See the move name under “Service” above.) If I am truly to be of Service, Objectivity must be present in my motive.
Use values as a guide for your life
Also published on Medium.