February 4, 2016

The Relationship Box

Last spring, I had coffee with one of my Advisors, Justin Foster.

Foster is a unique character – he’s thoughtful and thought-provoking, hence why he’s on our Advisory.

We’d only been chatting for 5 minutes when he asked, “Have we created the relationship box together yet?” I had no idea what he was talking about, so he told me to pull out a pen and paper.

First, he had me draw a square. Then he had me write four categories – one on each side of the square.   Top to bottom, then left to right, they read: goals, core values, heart qualities, and standards.

Simple enough.

The idea behind the “Relationship Box”, as he calls it, is to create a matrix through which to pinpoint our focus as an organization and to easily share this focus and vision with our leadership, employees, and others intimately involved with our work.

Any guesses which side of the square we started with? Core values. It’s the most important category; the root from which everything else we do grows. So, they’re what I’ll focus on in this post.

Foster asked me to write down Speak Your Silence’s top three core values. And I was only allowed to write three.

Have you ever tried writing down your most important core values and limiting it to just three? It’s not easy.

After writing and scribbling a bit, I did it. The three core values that made the final cut were: Truth, Love, and Purpose.

Foster said, “Awesome – now, every single thing that Speak Your Silence does or says has to be rooted in at least one of these three core values. Everything.”

I think this is a strong practice for anyone in business. Actually, I think this is a great practice for inking out your own life, if you desire to live intentionally and with purpose (ha, I just realized that’s one of our core values).

So, here’s why I narrowed it down to these three core values. Although it may sound surprising, child sexual abuse is not my motivator in leading Speak Your Silence. I’m motivated by truth and the fact that truth transformed my life a few years ago. When I discovered the truth about myself – that I’m innately infinitely valuable and that there’s nothing anyone can do to take away from this – it changed everything for me. So, I founded Speak Your Silence with a deep desire to share this same truth with others, because it applies to each and every one of us.

Secondly, love. Without love, what good is any of this? It’s so important that with everything we do at Speak Your Silence, we always, always, always do it with hearts that are overflowing with love for each person we reach.

If you wear The Stitch and you don’t wear it from a standpoint of love, it’s meaning is lost. We love people, and this is why we hope to deliver truth to their lives.

Finally, purpose. The reason I hit a low point in my life a few years back was because I questioned my value and my purpose. “What value do I offer the world?” is the question I asked myself. When I finally discovered the truth about myself and my innate worth, it gave me a deep sense of purpose, because I realized that my formerly traumatic experience had now become an asset that could change many, many lives. All I had to do to fulfill this purpose… was share this truth… with a loving heart, encompassing our three core values.

While with Foster, I originally listed wisdom as one of our three core values – it’s something I place a great deal of focus on. However, wisdom is something that is rooted in truth and love, hence why it didn’t make the final list. The way I see it is if we, as an organization, are rooted in truth, love, and purpose… wisdom is a natural result.

I really liked Foster’s relationship box exercise because it forced me to think hard and define exactly why we exist and how by zeroing in on three simple values, we can effectively fulfill our mission every single day without distraction. Narrowing down to the top three most important core values was not easy, but it was important for focus and clarity.

If you had to narrow it down to three, what would yours be?