ENID, Okla. — Editor’s note: This column was first published Oct. 26, 2007
What are your core values?
What do you base your life upon?
How do you structure your life, and what yardstick do you measure your life against?
All are good questions, but none is especially easy to answer.
A lot of people subscribe to the “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” theory espoused in Robert Fulghum’s popular book of the same name.
The tenets of this philosophy are simple, share, play fair, don’t hit, clean up your own mess, say you’re sorry and, most important of all, flush when you go.
Many others have incorporated the so-called Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” as laid out in Luke 6:31, into their personal list of rules for life’s road.
Of course this phrase has been subverted over the years by some who say they prefer the philosophy, “Do to others before they do to you” or “Do to others, then split.”
When you ask someone serving in the Air Force what their core values are, the answer will come quickly.
• Integrity above all.
• Service before self.
• Excellence in all we do.
Every man and woman in the Air Force is expected to live up to these values, from the greenest new recruit to the chief of staff.
Could those of us not in uniform apply these values to our lives? Certainly.
• Integrity above all. This means don’t lie. That doesn’t mean you have to truthfully answer the question “Do these jeans make me look fat?” but, for the most part, stick to the truth.
Don’t cheat or steal, either. And certainly don’t lie about cheating or stealing.
Another way to put it, in the words of my late mother, is “Don’t do anything when you’re alone you would be ashamed to do in public.”
If you say you are going to do something, do it. Be someone upon whom other people can depend.
Don’t gossip. If you can’t say something nice about somebody or something, zip it.
Respect everybody, including yourself, but admire only those who deserve it.
• Service before self. Rid yourself of the childish notion the universe revolves around you. It doesn’t.
It revolves around me. (Just kidding). Always think of the other guy. If you see someone who needs help, don’t just stand there, help them or, at the very least, offer your assistance.
It is better to give than receive. As someone who dearly loves receiving presents, it always makes me a bit queasy to say that, but it’s true.
Give money, give your time, give your muscle power and sweat, give your love, give your prayers, just give.
Think of everybody before you think about yourself. That’s the “do to others” part.
• Excellence in all we do. Don’t do anything halfway. If you’re going to do something, do it right. As my late daddy used to say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
Don’t settle for second best. Always play to win, even though the fact everybody loses now and again is one of life’s truisms, along with the fact the shortest line at the bank or grocery store always moves the slowest.
Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t wait for somebody else to do something that needs to be done, do it yourself — that way you know it is done right.
Don’t pass the buck. Don’t make excuses. If you make a mistake own up to it, then move on, determined never to make the same mistake again.
Actually these values aren’t that far from those expressed by Fulghum. All except the bit about flushing, that is.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at email@example.com.