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Posted by griffithd on September 29, 2017 at 10:25 AM

Over the last several years much has been written about values. To the point where one could grow numb. Perhaps this is a function of individuals giving speeches about their values and then living a life inconsistent with their words. Substitute the word faith for values, and the same comments are accurate.

I am not saying, in fact, few of us would say, that our own accountability to our values is perfect. However, it strikes me that the gap between words and actions in this age of Twitter and social media has grown sharply and shrilly. All of which has got me to thinking about values, both my own and the organizations I associate with on a daily basis.

What are your bedrock values? What beliefs do you have to which your actions are always consistent? What line will you not cross, regardless of the consequence? What do you stand for, what do you teach your children, how do you roll? To steal a phrase, what is your North Star?

Values are not priorities. They shape your priorities. Rather they are the core foundational principles on which you build your life, your relationships, your work, and your legacy. Time spent on reflecting on your values is well spent, matching your real actions and behaviors is even better time spent.

At Episcopal Community Services where I work, we have spent the last 14 months in a strategic planning process. Much of that time was spent defining our mission, vision, and values. The clarity that has come from this process is both informative and remarkable. The agency has pivoted with both precision and alignment, and we have established guardrails for all of our work. It will not be perfect, but the focus has given us energy and direction. Energy and direction, absolutely built on core values.

In the spirit of muddy boots our four values are:


We honor the inherent worth of every human being.

A fundamental value of both the Episcopal tradition and the social work code of ethics, dignity is at the core of our work, shaping program design, operations, and advocacy. We foster confidence, trust, and resourcefulness, and we believe that all individuals have the courage, capacity, and will to create a personal measure of self-sustainability and fulfillment.


We confront systems and policies that deprive our participants and their communities of choice and opportunity.

We know that working towards a more just world is a responsibility we all share and we are committed to meaningful change.


We integrate the ideas and perspectives of participants, staff, the board of trustees, peer agencies, and stakeholders.

We accomplish more together, and we know that collaborative and inclusive relationships strengthen programming and advocacy.


We make a measurable difference in people’s lives.

Using research and data to confirm our impact, we seek out the people and partnerships that increase positive outcomes for those we serve. When we are successful, our actions are replicable and scalable. When we are successful with our economic mobility model and approach, people in poverty move out of poverty and permanent change occurs in lives.

For what do you stand? How do you roll? What is your legacy?

What is your North Star?


Categories: ECS Outreach, Leadership

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