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What Do You Stand For? Can You Say It In 8 Words? How Did Ronald Reagan?

January 12, 2011

What Do You Stand For? Can You Say It In 8 Words? How Did Ronald Reagan?

Whenever I have an idea or thought I want to remember, I write it on a small sheet or scrap of paper. Then I put it somewhere on my desk. It’s not the best organizational habit because these scraps get scattered around as I do more time-sensitive tasks. Then some disappear only to be rediscovered later.

So when I was cleaning and reorganizing my desk – something I don’t do nearly as often as I should – I had a series of small joys in finding some long-forgotten notes. Some of them I pondered and wondered why I had even written them down. Were some insights missing in my scribbles? Others rejuvenated thoughts that I am glad I preserved. That is one of the few pleasures of cleaning and straightening my desk. I took the time to further reflect on my notes and further develop ideas.

One of the items I found was not a scrap of paper but a brochure I picked up at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library six months ago. I must have placed it on my desk and then buried it under other papers. I had written a few notes on it which I re-read while I scanned the brochure. The brochure highlighted four major themes of the Reagan presidency:

  • Individual liberty
  • Economic opportunity
  • Global democracy
  • National pride

It struck me that Reagan, often criticized for discussing complex matters in simple terms, had an amazing knack for distilling the essence of what he stood for into easy-to-understand, straight-forward language. Plus he had the fortitude to stick with his core principles. His decisions and focus almost always stemmed from and revolved around these four big ideas in which he strongly believed. They served as a compass for him and represented his key success factors.

Which got me thinking, what are my four? How could I distill what I stand for into eight words – four sets of two words. And how many of us can or do?

That’s a challenge I think is healthy for all of us to take on. The next challenge, and the harder one, is to live by them through how we conduct our lives and do our work.

Here is a first draft of mine – what I stand for – which I imagine will evolve as I give them additional thought.

  • Individual enrichment
  • Possibility creation
  • “Heartisan”* championship
  • Charitable entrepreneurism

I’m putting them on my screen saver as a continual reminder.

While my desk is not always well-organized, perhaps this discipline will help me better organize my mind – and help me focus on the tasks and priorities that matter most for me and connect with what I stand for.

What do you stand for? What are your eight words?

P.S.: I am now using a small notebook to record and keep track of my spontaneous thoughts and ideas. Call it a New Year’s resolution.

Steve Weitzenkorn

*Heartisans (a term we coined) are people who have a genuine commitment to a worthy cause. They have a heartfelt devotion to a purpose greater than themselves and the courage, energy, and spirit to pursue it. Heartisans work as an expression of their heart, which becomes a part of who they are.

Visit our new website – Explore the content and take our FREE Guiding Values Exercise – an electronic card game. And let us know what you think.

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