Leaders Photographic Memory

By John Blumberg, Andersen Alumnus and author of Return On Integrity (www.BlumbergROI.com)

Growing up, I remember being torn between the two. Whether it was a vacation, a concert, a canoeing adventure, or a beautiful sunset… do I spend my time photographing the experience or fully living the moment to develop a photographic memory of the experience? Earlier this year, a photograph went viral of a crowd of young adults watching the NBC Today Show in the streets outside Rockefeller Center in New York. Every single one of them had their cell phones up in the air recording the event. In the midst of the crowd of these young adults was one elder lady. She was just watching the show…fully living into the experience. Some would say that you can do both. Possibly, but not likely.

Neither a photo or a video is the real experience.

At best, it’s an expression of the experience…and a weak one if you haven’t first fully lived into the original version. I’m not lost on the irony that this photo would gain its viral exposure on Facebook. With the evolution of photographic technology and its outlet of social media, the dilemma of my years growing-up has taken on new dimensions. Without the natural constraints of an ongoing investment in film and developing costs, there are no practical limits to the quantity of photos and videos that can be taken, instantly “developed” and then widely shared. On the surface, it would appear to be an incredible advancement. And there are certainly many advantages that are created because of it.

Yet, regardless of the ever-increasing quality and ease of recording images, they are no more the actual authentic experience than those of the more antiquated version found in the fading photographs of years gone by. In fact, the enhanced quality can actually present a false reality of the experience of those captured through this perfected medium. I recently saw a wooden plaque in a gift shop that simply stated, “May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook.” It’s a bit judgmental and harsh, but it rings with a bit of truthful sting.

The most documented society may reflect the least authentic.

It’s the same sting that rings true when it comes to core values that are quickly developed without an individual or a leadership team fully living into the experience of developing them. A few “final words” posted for all to see will have little meaning or impact if the adventure of developing them isn’t deeply experienced. It isn’t that the words on the wall are bad, it’s just that they are only as good as the depth of the experience it took to create them.

Those in leadership positions have often received the essence of the same judgment noted on the wooden plaque in the gift shop…may your actions someday be as awesome as you pretend they are on the wall.

Granted, on the surface, digging into your core values isn’t as much fun as some exotic vacation…yet the deeper you dig, you eventually find an incredible sunrise. It’s only in fully living into the discovery, that a few wonderful gems are unearthed to mean everything. They become the essence of truth. In turn, they become a way of life and not a checklist of compliance.

Like the few words on a list of genuine core values, some photography purely captures and ultimately reveals the essence of the truth of the moment. I think of the work of my good friend Jimi Allen. I love to actually watch him work his incredible gift of photography. Unlike the masses, Jimi doesn’t just snap images to document the moment…he fully lives into the experience he is photographing. And truth leaps from the beautiful images that he captures.

The essence of the image exposed from a list of organizational core values is in the hands of those who lead. When their hands pick-up a shovel and begin to dig deeply, they live into the experience of developing personal and organizational core values. That genuine experience is what reveals the truth every time they’re exposed to each word on their ultimate list of values. It’s that truth that equips them to be able to fully live those values within every experience and in doing so inspire others to do the same.

John G. Blumberg is an Andersen Alumni, a national speaker and author of several books including his just released book, Return On Integrity:The New Definition of ROI and Why Leaders Need to Know It.It is available on Amazon and at major bookstores. You can connect with John at http://www.blumbergroi.com/connect