Monday, March 9, 2015

Values and Behaviors in Sixth Grade Language: Enthusiasm

I'm continuing my series of posts where I start translating the observable behaviors associated with my organization's core values into simpler "sixth grade" language. Doing so will hopefully make them more memorable--for my team, yes, but more importantly for me, who has an obligation to reinforce their important role in our organization by calling out instances in which people are and are not acting in accordance with them.

I've already tackled Leadership. Next up is Enthusiasm, which we define with the statement, "We are excited about growing as individuals and about growing the organization." It has eight observable behaviors associated with it, and here is a chart where I'm attempting to show a before-and-after comparison after applying the "sixth-grade" test to each one.

We are excited about growing as individuals and about growing the organization.

We identify gaps in our knowledge and skill set, and take actions to correct them.
We want to learn.
We look for and accept new challenges.
We push ourselves.
We are willing to experiment and try new ways of doing things.
We try new things.
We apply gained knowledge and openly share the results.
We teach others.
We bring energy and fun to the workplace.
We have fun.

We care intensely about our success, celebrating wins big and small.
We want to succeed.

We inspire others with our positive attitude, enjoying the journey as well as the goal.
We like our work.

We display tenacity, pursuing the course of action and identifying the resources necessary to do the job right, and asking the questions necessary to get root causes.
We don't give up.

Now, as I did with Leadership, I'm going to try and boil things down even more. Eight behaviors are going to be hard to remember and keep track of, no matter how simply they are described. As I look through the new list of Enthusiasm behaviors for common themes, I can see the following actions that would be preferable in almost any situation we find ourselves in.

1. Actions that demonstrate a commitment to growth and development. There may be no simpler way to say it. Enthusiastic people are always looking for ways to improve their knowledge and skills. And the process that is determining what work to do and doing it provides them with the ideal setting for that growth and development. Those who always stay within their comfort zone can be reliable performers, but they won't open themselves or their organizations up to the kind of breakthrough developments that are increasingly needed for success. Figure out where you can improve and pursue it in the context of the work you do.

2. Actions that show enjoyment of the work. And have fun doing it. Enthusiastic people don't succumb to the drudgery or the difficulty of the tasks that must be performed. To them, the journey is just as much fun as arriving at the destination. They have an intense desire to succeed, but they're going to make sure they have fun getting there.

That's as far as I'm going this week, and I'm going to tackle the remaining two values in a similar fashion before coming back to compare each value's short list of actions for even more consolidation.

Stay tuned.

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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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