Where do your values come from?

Recently I was asked this question by a potential client and was at a loss for words for a few minutes…I’d never really thought about this before. My values have always been my values (for the most part…a few have changed).

My answer to him was a quick one: I learned my values from my family. I’d like to take a second to expand that answer a little bit and then to ask my readers where their values come from.

I learned my values early in my life. I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma whose population was barely a thousand people. Both sets of grandparents farmers, dairy farmers raised beef cattle and most of my extended family lived in the same general area. The majority of my family still lives in the same town they had grown up in.

Growing up, I learned how hard it is to make a living from the land…it is hard hard hard work. It can also be very rewarding, but most times not in the financial sense. While growing up I learned what it meant to work hard, be trustworthy, be honest, have integrity and to be selfless.

As a child, you never really think that you are learning ‘values’ but you are. These values extend into your adult life and provide you with a ‘compass’ to navigate through the various trials and tribulations life has to offer. These values may change a bit during life but I believe the core values you learn as a child stay with you for the rest of your life.

An example I like to use when telling people about my values and where they came from involves my grandfather, Claude Levisay (who we called Grandpa). He was a great guy but one who I misunderstood for a significant portion of my life. I thought he was a ‘mean old guy’ who never never really talked to me and never really enjoyed life. I realize now I was wrong about him.

My grandfather had many different jobs over the years; Dairy Farmer, Bus Driver, Handyman, Carpenter. The most memorable to me was when he worked as a carpenter built and remodeled homes. I helped him occasionally during the summer and soon realized that my grandfather was not the ‘mean old guy’ I thought he was. He was a kind hearted man who was as one of the most intelligent and hard working men I’ve ever met (I’d have to include my father Dwain and uncle Jerry in that list too).

Grandpa was also one of the most honest men I’ve ever met. One summer while helping him build a home, I learned a valuable lesson about integrity and doing things right. We had just finished framing out the house (e.g., using 2×4 studs to build the walls) and somewhere during framing we had gotten off plum and level and the walls had become slightly off-level.

When my Grandfather noticed this he wasn’t happy at all…but thankfully it wasn’t due to some stupid mistake on my part 🙂 When I looked at the level, I could barely tell that the wall wasn’t plum but he felt it wasn’t ‘right’ so he said we needed to ‘do it over’. We were going to tear half the walls down and re-frame them…another half-day worth of work due to what I thought was a minor issue. We tore those walls down and rebuilt them and didn’t charge any additional fees for that extra work.

I learned an invaluable lesson that day. We could have hidden the fact that the wall wasn’t plum/level but that wasn’t the right thing to do. The right thing to do was what we did…tear the wall down and start over. I doubt you’d find many contractors who would do that these days.

Needless to say, I learned a great deal from my grandfather and other family members. Hard work, integrity, honesty, selflessness, family and duty are the ones that have stuck with me.

My personal values have changed a bit as I’ve grown. For example, my family eschewed alcohol…but I love good wine (and an occasional Wild Turkey & Coke). The family also didn’t smoke…but I love the occasional cigar. Some values have changed over the course of my life but my core values remain the same to this day.

Where did your values come from? I’d love to hear your stories.

[tags] values [/tags]

4 responses to “Where do your values come from?”

  1. Karl Lingenfelder Avatar

    Absolutely right, values come from one’s childhood. That’s good and bad values depending on one’s circumstances. The first 5 or 6 years are the very most important as that is when one is a blank slate or canvas and the biggest impressions are made. Lifetime impressions that make a person what/who they are. Our culture’s values have changed. Houses are mass produced to increase affordability at the expense of a high level of craftsmanship and quality, but more people own their homes and there is no housing shortage in the U.S. Grandpa would be building or supervising the construction of custom homes today for customers that want that quality. Plumb or level walls and floors have a big impact on the entire final product and finish. Foundations, whether values or straight and level walls affect the rest of the structure. Good read.

  2. Eric Brown Avatar

    Karl – Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. max191 Avatar

    Interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks a load!
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  4. Interesting Article – Where do your values come from? RT @ericdbrown http://bit.ly/gQuKu4