“There is no objective reality. We don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.”

Sean was filling out a university questionnaire to help determine roommate compatibility. Beside the questions, “Do you make your bed every day?” and “Do you consider yourself a neat person?” he checked “Yes.” Later his mother reviewed the questionnaire. Knowing those answers were far from the truth, she asked Sean why he’d lied. “What do you expect me to do,” he retorted. “I don’t want to get stuck living with some slob!”

The gap between what we say we value and how we live can get pretty big. This hypocrisy could be because I am trying to fool others. Some people don’t try to do what’s right, they try to guess what other people think is right. For example, when someone says it’s not about the money, but the principle of the thing, it’s usually about the money. The manager of a large bookstore once told me that the book they have stolen the most is the Bible. Hypocrites climb the social, organizational, or career ladder ‘wrong’ by ‘wrong’ while trying to justify, excuse, or disguise their behavior. Like Mae West in Klondike Annie, when choosing between two evils, they pick the one they haven’t tried before.

More often hypocrisy is because I am fooling myself. I am not being true to me. I am not authentic. Lack of authenticity often stems from lack of awareness of the values or beliefs that are really at the core of who I am. When we’re not centered with a solid core, change is often a threat. It’s also harder to accumulate the positive choices that vaccinate us against the Victimitis Virus and keep us from living in Pity City. Lacking a firm focal point, passion is weak and commitment is soft. Without a strong set of core values we’re more likely to lead our lives from the outside in rather than the inside out. A centered leader grows his or her inner space and provides spirit and meaning to others. When our values aren’t in focus our energy is easily scattered. That makes it tougher to mobilize ourselves never mind anyone else. Core values provide a context for continuous growth and development that takes us toward our dreams. Our core values project forward to become our vision. How we see the world is what we project from ourselves.

In Going Deep, Ian Percy writes, “Most business people I know are much more concerned with the quality of their customer service than they are with the quality of their parenting and spousing.” In one highly successful company we consulted with executives proudly declared they had the highest divorce rate of any major corporation in the country. Many wore their divorces as a badge of honor to show their commitment to the company. When the company suddenly tosses them aside or they reach retirement, is a broken family the price that most of these executives will feel glad they paid for their career success? No one can judge someone else’s values, but is that really what they value? Is career success at all costs their core essence?

Our core values show themselves in many ways. One is at points of crisis, disaster, or adversity. That’s often when our actions move us unconsciously from the depth of our heart. Any masks we may be wearing are torn off to reveal our true face. Money is often another powerful way a person’s core essence is revealed to him or herself and/or others. It’s amazing to hear some people proclaim family values and then trash their “loved ones” over an inheritance. Greed is responsible for some mighty creative rationalizations. It’s great to have money and the good life that money can buy. But we need to ensure that we haven’t lost the invaluable things that money can’t buy.