“If you don’t stand for something … you’ll fall for any thing!”

Said the old guy on the train. I was sat on the 05.42 train to London for one of my work assignments. I travel most months from Chesterfield to London to coach and deliver workshops.  I fell into conversation with a retired US Navy veteran sitting next to me and he asked what I did;

“Management training, leadership stuff, you know, team building that kind of thing” I said.

He asked what my ethos was and I didn’t really know. He said what do you stand for and I wasn’t sure. He said in the Navy, they had a code, an ethos which they lived by. He wanted to know what was mine and how did I know what principle I lived by if I didn’t have an ethos.

Quite a cranky old chap but it got me thinking and asking questions of myself. Coincidentally, 2 coaching clients were struggling with who they were and what they wanted from life plus feeling a lack of motivation. I asked if they had an ethos or code and they looked as puzzled as I had so I have begun working up a process to explore and establish my code, my ethos. Its nearly complete and I am going to trial it with my clients.

Basically, it takes you though a 5 -tage process, see below for a brief description;

Step 1 – The legacy – work out what you want folks to be saying about you when you’re gone

Step 2 – The brain-storm – explore the values important to you, honesty, learning, success, humility, trust etc

Step 3 – Build and create – Write a series of sentences which bring your legacy and your values together

Step 4 – Boil it down – create a short hand version of your ethical statements

Step 5 – Try it on for size – Sit with it for a while, revisit it regularly and see if it works for you

Why have an ethos?

An ethos or code acts like a true north, an internal GPS or guiding set of principles, which can make tougher decisions or times in your life easier to manage. It can help you become the ‘you’ you’ve always wanted to be. That’s a grand claim, I know but it creates a model or exemplar against which you can measure yourself.

I have found the process rewarding and whilst I am always ‘a work in progress’, I do feel a certain settling or coming home to myself when I think about what I am doing here in the world.

I’m beginning to know what I stand for and its quite reassuring.