universal core valuesI’m not talking about values in algebra, and I’m not talking about a conversation with your grandma about her antique figurines ($) she shows off in her living room.  “Values” is a term showing up these days in conversations about leadership, business and government.

The phrase “core values” is gaining popularity, thanks to companies and organizations like Whole Foods, Zappo’s and Teach For America.  In business, core values are defined as principles which guide a company’s actions, decisions and conduct.  Core values serve as a roadmap, helping businesses “stay on track” and make sure the way they actually act, matches with the way the want to act.  For example, some of Zappo’s core values are:  “To do more with less”, “Pursue growth and learning” and “Be Creative, Adventurous and Open-Minded”.

At the Global Youth Village (GYV), we talk a lot about values too. We see values as playing two important roles:

1)     They help us become the leaders we wish to be:
muir woods
In the words of leadership professor Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr.,

“Becoming the best kind of leader isn’t about emulating a role model or historic figure.  Rather, your leadership must be rooted in who you are and what matters most to you.  When you truly know yourself and what you stand for, it is much easier to know what to do in any situation.”

Part of GYV is, yes, getting to know other teens from around the world.  But perhaps the most important part of GYV is getting to know yourself.  By interacting with people with different background, beliefs and cultures, you begin to reflect on your own beliefs and values.  And when you reflect on these things, you begin to define and become the best version of yourself.  This is the process of learning what matters most to you, what you stand for and how you will make decisions as a leader.

2)     Values unite people with vastly different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs:

M.C. Escher, 1935, lithograph

M.C. Escher, 1935, lithograph

At GYV, we do an activity called “Universal Values”.  Now, I don’t want to give away all the fun of the activity for those of you who have yet to come to GYV, but I will say that the activity helps you to explore the idea that there are values that all people share.  There are certain things in life that all people think are deeply important.  We can use these “universal values” as a way to draw us together and to find “common ground” with people, who at first, we believe are much different than ourselves.   Read more about Service as a Universal Value from GYV founder, J. E. Rash.

Through living with other teens at GYV and through conversations held during Dialogue workshops, you’ll begin to learn how the values you share with teens from around the world actually connect you.  Connections like that are what leaders to strong leadership in the future, as the players from around the world tackle pressing global issues. Read about GYV alumni leaders

So take some time this summer, at GYV, to discover what is really important to you; discover what is important to other teens and explore how our similarities (and our differences) can prepares us for the future.

Get the conversations started today, even before camp begins:  Comment below and tell us what values are really important to you.