character and nature of “values,”
You have engaged in various activities in this course. All of the activities are intended to give you insights into the character and nature of “values,” to explore the ways in which you have “given voice to your values” in your past commitments, decisions, actions and statements; in which you are giving voice to your values in your present; and the ways in which you might give voice to your values in your future. In addition, you have had weekly opportunities to give voice to your values – and to learn from or about the values of others – in your small group sessions, your teamwork sessions and in your teams’ reports to the entire class.
The purpose of this examination is to give you some time for reflection – away from the pressures of work and other course assignments – so that you can “consolidate” in your own mind, in your own terms and for your own benefit some of your “take-aways” from this course. Please answer all of the questions in all of the three sections of this examination, using complete sentences in giving your responses. Please feel free to write as little or as much as you like, provided that you provide a good faith answer to each question.
Please report to me on your take-aways on the videos by Tal Ben Shahar, “Happiness 101.” (The video on “Happiness 101” is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-RVECUWOGQ.) When I speak of “take-aways,” I do not want you to report on what Tal Ben Shahar said in the video. (I am not testing you on your listening or comprehension.) A “take-away” is a new insight, perception or understanding for you which you found to be interesting and useful, i.e., you would like to keep the “take-away” in mind or integrate it into in your current life; or you suspect that you will want to keep the “take-away” in mind or integrate it into your future life.
“True North”: Your Personal Development Plan
In the first half of the course, we spent our small group sessions on weekly exercises from Bill George’s book, True North. At the end of the book, Mr. George invites students to integrate what they have learned about their past and present “selves” (especially strengths and preferences as demonstrated by past decisions, actions or statements) in order to begin to articulate personal development plan. Please answer the following questions as a way of completing your work in Mr. George’s book. (It is important to recall that strengths and preferences you have demonstrated in the past and present should not be viewed as limitations on your personal development plan but, possibly, as a point of departure.)
1. Which aspects of your personal development do you plan to nurture, cultivate or maintain as sources of joy and strength over the next five years? (e.g., physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual). Feel free to redefine or add to the aspects of personal development (i.e., physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual) in any way you consider appropriate for yourself. For example, intellectual development can include specific knowledge (e.g., biology, French literature or engineering) or specific skills (e.g., listening, speaking, reading, writing, analytical, critical, quantitative). Emotional skills might include personal characteristics such as patience, kindness, diligence or flexibility.
a) Please be specific about in the manner which you intend to nurture, cultivate or maintain this aspect – or these aspects – of your life over the next five years: e.g., “I plan to nurture my physical development by eating nothing but vegetables, drinking nothing but water, swimming two times each week and sleeping eight hours each day.”
b) Finally, please be specific about the extent to which you plan to cultivate these different areas of personal development over the next five years: e.g., “I plan to nurture my physical development in the manner set forth above such that, before graduation from the University of Maryland, I will have achieved the ideal body-weight-index for my height, age and gender.”
2. Which relationships do you plan to nurture, cultivate or maintain as sources of joy and strength over the next five years? (e.g., family, friends, community, colleagues). Feel free to add to or to redefine the “relationships” (i.e., family, friends, community, colleagues) in any way you consider appropriate for yourself (e.g., civic or political involvement).
a) Please be specific about the manner in which you intend to nurture, cultivate or maintain these relationships: e.g., “I plan to increase my circle of friends by becoming involved in the following student organizations…”.
b) Please be specific about the extent to which you intend to nurture, cultivate or maintain these relationships: e.g., “I plan to increase pursue my involvement in a student organizations so that I can be an officer of the organization in my senior year.”
3. Once you have listed the various aspects of your life above (personal development and relationships), please go back and prioritize them, to the extent you consider appropriate, from most important to least important. You can show your priority simply by listing the various aspects of personal development and relationships in a given order, i.e,, beginning with #1 as the most important. If you consider different aspects to be of equal priority, please simply give them the same number (e.g., two different items could have the number #1).
4. As Bill George suggests in his book and attempts to demonstrate through his research: taken together, nurturing, cultivating and maintaining the various aspects of life can provide you with balance, stability and resilience in all aspects of life. Ideally, of course, we would devote endless time and energy (or at least ample time and energy) to each sphere of life so that there would be no trade-offs or sacrifices. Unfortunately, none of us has unlimited time and energy; and very few people find the time and energy to avoid situations or circumstances which they perceive as requiring compromise among the various aspects of their lives. As a result, each person typically feels the need to make such compromises from time to time in order to maintain harmony between the various aspects of our lives – all of them good. Please list at least four compromises, accommodations, trade-offs or sacrifices (two you are willing to make and two you are not willing to make) which you can imagine will challenge you in maintaining balance among the various aspects of your life over the next five years.
5. Bill George defines “True North” as “ your most cherished values, your passions and motivations, the sources of satisfaction in your life.” (True North, p. xxiii.) I would add, that – in my opinion – “True North,” as Bill George discusses it, could also be described as an organizing principle, i.e., a focus around which we orient our understanding and activities; and through which we give purpose or meaning to our lives. At the same time, in my opinion, Bill George’s book focuses primarily on professional, career or organizational commitments, while addressing other focuses (e.g. family, friends, civic, religious) under the category of “having an integrated life.” It is clearly a worthwhile exercise, as presented by Mr. George in his book, to consider “your most cherished values, your passions and motivations, the sources of satisfaction” with a focus on professional, career or organizational commitments. At the same time, from your perspective, to what extent do you imagine that, in your future, you will focus on professional, career or organizational commitments as the orienting principle in your life and to what extent will you focus on one ore more other orienting principles (e.g. family, friends, civic, religious).
Giving Voice to Values: “Inflating Value (A)”
I have posted to Canvas under the “Files” button in the “Weekly Exercises” folder the case entitled “Inflating Value (A).” It is posted as item “m” at the end of the weekly exercises. Please answer the questions at the end of the case, state briefly and clearly what you would advise Jack to do. Please do not collaborate with any students or consult any outside sources in answering this question. (There are no right or wrong answers, but – in formulating your response – I encourage you to consult my checklists on “Strategic Considerations”; “Presentation Alternatives” and “Common Objections,” all as posted to Canvas under the “Files” button in the “Check Lists” folder.)