If one leg of a three-legged stool is missing, the stool will not stand. If one leg is shorter than the others are, the stool is awkward to use. In a discussion of values and ethics, the analogy of a three-legged stool can be employed to help better understand the importance and interdependence of personal, organizational and cultural values. Individuals, communities, and organizations influence one another. Maintaining a healthy balance between the values of each is crucial.
Personal values, the principles that define an individual, evolve over time. They are formed by a variety of influences including ones family and friends, and educational and religious institutions. The values that remain over time are considered “core values,” while those that change over time are considered “superficial values” (Woods, para. 1).
Examining ones own values can be a difficult task. Many people live life disconnected from their own personal values. They “live a life according to the values of a company, an organisation [sic], a religious or political organisation [sic], [or] the values of their friends or colleagues or partner” (Woods, para. 6). Living a life of adopted or unexamined values can cause conflict because ones own core values are not being met (Woods, para. 5).
As I reflect upon my personal journey, I come to the conclusion that the values of honesty, integrity, and truthfulness taught in the conservative Christian atmosphere in which I was raised have remained. As I advanced in education and knowledge, the values of having meaningful work and helping other people developed. I readily adopted the values of the groups to which I was associated, all the while, desiring status, financial prosperity and personal achievement; values not readily embraced in a religious culture that teaches self-sacrifice. The imbalance and misalignment of personal, cultural and organizational values caused conflict. This... [continues]
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