Culture is important to me
When I was a boy, I-
I’m just playing; I don’t have a corny intro like that.
Seriously though, culture is important to me. I’ve spent years dealing with dysfunction, and not having a good time with it. I’ve always been a culture guy.
When I started my lighting ministry in my church, I was very strict on a pledge I made. That pledge involved members of the crew to be Honest, Kind, AND Respectful. It was a way to build a culture. An environment. A place where the standard was clear and easy to remember.
As I finished writing out the handbook for the ministry, I would make references to that Pledge. Like, for disciplinary action. Dealing with conflict. Working together on that big lighting production. You had to be kind, honest, and respectful. Not just one or two. All three.
I wanted to build a place where people felt safe. Comfortable. I didn’t ask for us all to be best friends. I simply wanted to make sure we would be able to get the job done, at minimum. It would be a bonus if friendships emerged.
Even with all of the places I’ve been employed, it’s the same concept. I want to work for a place that treats people right. Their employees and their clients. A place where you can be yourself. Yes, some of you might think it’s just not possible. If you don’t see the culture, then make it. Be it.
That’s what I always told myself and the various teams I’ve led over the years. I started as a Patrol Leader in the Boy Scouts. I was elected back-to-back. Then, the next PL picked me as the assistant PL because he knew I was someone he could work with. And I was humble enough to assist someone vs being the guy in charge.
I was editor for The Sixer Sense. When I took over, the staff was just me and one other writer. I transformed the site’s look. All of the pages like “About” and “Staff” and “Join Us” were reworked to showcase a culture. In my peak time there, I ended up with the largest staff of the NBA division of sites. People wanted to join because they liked that culture.
People wanted to join my lighting team. This lighting team didn’t own any equipment. All I had was me and my culture. I sold working with me and I sold being a team. Being a family. That’s all I could sell for five years and some of them stuck it out to this day.
Culture is important to me. If I don’t feel…right, then it isn’t right. If people are not being kind, honest, and respectful, I don’t like it. We’re not always being those three things, but I want to see us moving towards that. Nobody is perfect and there is no perfection that can be achieved when it comes to human character.
If I’m not leading a group or team or whatever, I look to the leader to instill some sort of standard that says “we’re not taking any form of poor character”. I need to know we strive to operate on solid ethics and morals. Certain things simply cannot be tolerated.
If I am not leading such a team, I try to be an example anyway. Maybe that’s why I always end up in leadership roles. I’ve never seen myself as a leader. I don’t need the title. I don’t need it to feel validated. Some people do. Both of my jobs have sort of shown me that people see a leader in me.
One job I started is now trying to have me promoted. There are some back end things going on preventing me from taking the role. It’s out of my hands right now. The other job I recently started offered me a management role, but I declined.
Let me explain.
I told him I wanted to start from the floor. I wanted to learn every bit of the job so that, when I am promoted, I’ll be better suited to lead others. “I’ve been where you are”. I can better relate now. I could potentially earn more respect. Plus, it allows me to learn the basics of the job at hand.
That’s just how I am. I don’t need it, baby. I don’t. I’m not fighting for it. It’s crazy; others are fighting for me more than I am. I’m at peace where I am and, when it’s time, I’ll know it. I’ll know when to move up.
Back to culture.
So, I stand for things that not everyone stands for. The idea of a healthy culture is not quite what is “right” or “wrong”. It’s more of “how can everyone feel…comfortable”. Valued. Respected. Cared about.
I have asperations of starting my own business. You can be sure I will carry all of the experience of leading groups with me.
It’s funny; I’m a numbers guy. Accounting degree. All of that. I can see things from both sides. There are times when I am very strict and by the book. But then, sometimes, rules gotta be broken because, at the end of the day, good character has to be allowed to shine. That’s why I get sad when people get fired for being kind, honest, or respectful because the action goes against company policy. It’s not that the company is malicious.
I am loyal to good culture and am an enemy and nightmare to poor culture. I will not go quietly if I’m in an environment that ain’t right. That’s not what I’m about and that’s not…
I need peace. I think, in this society, we focus on money more than anything. Money is important, so it’s hard to turn that down. However, there’s an emotional toll to selling yourself. Selling your standards. You can buy whatever you want, but there will be a hole there. Especially if you’re trying to fill it with money. There has to be a limit.
Okay, what good is money if you lose your sanity? Alright, then.
To sum it up, most of us do something of a cultural standard. When we invite someone to our home, we make it a clean as possible, right? Generally make sure they have somewhere to sit and pee. Offer them a little snack or drink. That’s you and your culture. You want this person to have a pleasant experience in your home. Your castle.
It’s the same for places you go. Movie theaters. Stores. Doctor’s office. All of these places have ways to show you what their culture is. What they stand for. How they want to treat you. It’s so important, and yet it’s sort of overlooked a lot. Taken for granted. Underrated or underappreciated.
Next time you go to work, or an interview) see if you can figure out the culture. What do they stand for? How do they treat people in general? Look them up. Research. Because once you’re an employee, you’re essentially a representative of the company.
Would you want to represent a place that is constantly in some sort of scandal, or a place that is trying to make the world a better place?
Culture. It’s important to me.