Leadership_Icon copySo said the old guy on the train. I was sat on the 05.42 train to London for one of my work assignments. I travel most months from Chesterfield to London to coach and deliver workshops. I fell into conversation with a retired US Navy veteran sitting next to me and he asked what I did.

“Management training, leadership stuff, you know, team building that kind of thing” I said.

He asked what my ethos was and I didn’t really know. He said what do you stand for and I wasn’t sure. He said in the Navy, they had a code, an ethos, that they lived by. He wanted to know what was mine and how did I know what principle I lived by if I didn’t have an ethos.

Quite a cranky old chap but it got me thinking and asking myself a few questions. Coincidentally, 2 coaching clients were struggling with who they were and what they wanted from life plus a lack of motivation. I asked if they had an ethos or code and they looked as puzzled as I had been so I have begun working up a process to explore and establish my code, my ethos. It’s nearly complete and I’m going to trial it with my clients.

Basically, it takes you through a 5 -stage process, see below for a brief description.

Step 1 – The legacy – work out what you want folks to be saying about you when you’re gone

Step 2 – The brain-storm – explore your important values; honesty, learning, success, humility, trust, etc.

Step 3 – Build and create – Write a series of sentences bringing your legacy and your values together

Step 4 – Boil it down – create a short-hand version of your ethical statements

Step 5 – Try it on for size – Sit with it for a while, revisit it regularly and see if it works for you.

Why have an ethos?

An ethos or code acts like a ‘true north’, an internal GPS or guiding set of principles, which can make tougher decisions or tough times in your life easier to manage. It can help you to become the ‘you’ you’ve always wanted to be. That’s a grand claim, I realise, but it creates a model or exemplar against which you can measure yourself.

I have found the process rewarding and whilst I am always ‘a work in progress’, I do feel a certain settling or ‘coming home’ to myself when I think about what I am doing here in the world.

I’m beginning to know what I stand for and I’m finding it reassuring.