I have a bright yellow biking outfit for when it rains. Long sleeves, long pants, hoodie. It is head to toe NEON yellow.
I wear it like a badge of honor. Here’s why.
When I bought it I was embracing my value of safety. My bike light had been stolen, and I thought a neon yellow biking outfit with reflective stripes might be a good investment.
But when I got home, my vanity took over and I decided to return it.
My husband Lorne and I stopped by the bike store, picked up a new light and some new gear, and went to the cash register to make our purchases and returns.
But the cashier told me there was a no returns policy. I explained to him that I’d asked about returns when I had bought the piece (only a fool would buy such an outfit without one), and the sales person had said we could return it. The cashier turned a deaf ear.
I was irritated, and let him know. He didn’t budge.
Too rushed to look elsewhere, we paid for our new items knowing we would not be back.
As we were walking to the car, I scanned the receipt, and turned to my husband with a gleam in my eye. “Honey, he didn’t charge us for the light.”
Our first reaction was to laugh. “We got him.”
And then my husband turned to me and said, “You know what you have to do.”
“Drat,” I said. “I don’t want to.”
I turned around, and went back into the store. As I approached the cash register, I could see the guy bristle. “What does she want now?”
As I showed him the receipt, and explained he forgot to charge me for the light, his face fell. His eyes looked confused, off guard. And then I thought I saw a flicker of a different emotion – maybe shame.
And in that moment, my defenses came down, and my righteousness turned to compassion.
When I walked out the door my heart was full.
And poof! My neon outfit transformed into a badge of honor. For in that moment I was recommitting to aligning my life to my value of integrity.
Now when I put on the outfit, I’m reminded of my values and how important it is to be part of a tribe of shared values. Both at home and at work, we need people to remind us of who we are and what we believe in. Especially in those moments when we forget.
Sometimes it is the people in our tribe who help us take an ordinary moment and make it extraordinary.
Do you have a values buddy? Someone at home and at work to help you step into and embrace your values in those moments when you forget who you are? Someone who calls you to be your greatest self?
Who in your organization is standing for you and your staff to live to your highest values?