Ronnie Oldham's Core Values
"Not snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
Motto of the U.S. Postal Service
Though some might arguably include responsibility under the heading of integrity, it is my third core value. The idea of responsibility is more than simply a willingness to accept blame or criticism for shortcomings, negligence, or oversight. It is the establishment of priorities, placing rightful obligations to others as high as obligations to self. To be responsible is to always do the right thing in the eyes of loved ones, valued business associates, and my community. It is to value the trust and confidence of others. It is the determination to keep a promise or make right some unintentional wrong, even when it is costly or inconvenient to do so.
Admiral Hyman G. Rickover of the U.S. Navy described responsibility as " a unique concept: It can only reside in a single individual. You may share it with others, but your portion is not diminished. You may delegate it, but it is still with you. You may disclaim it, but you cannot divest yourself of it. Even if you do not recognize it or admit its presence, you cannot escape it. If the responsibility is rightly yours, no evasion, or ignorance, or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else. Unless you can point the finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible."
I learned early the price of irresponsibility, punishment and the loss of cherished possessions. I learned that if I did not personally guard and protect my belongings, they would become lost. I suffered the consequences of my own bad judgment and I heralded in the successes of wise, more pragmatic decisions. Sunday school lessons taught me about obligations to God first, country second, and then parents and teachers. Overall, I was a very responsible adolescent and teenager, but duty remained a mere word until I enlisted in the Air Force.
The Air Force taught me much about duty. I lived in a society centered on strict principles of conduct and honor. Although I was a far cry from the typical recruit, I successfully conformed to the regimen. The expectations and obligations were clear and they were called "duty." From the beginning of basic training, individual and group responsibilities fostered the camaraderie and team commitment that is military life. I took my responsibilities seriously, but I still viewed them as temporary. I cannot say that they were imposed upon me because I willingly took them on when I enlisted. Although the Air Force entrusted me with the management of millions of dollars worth of equipment, it would take marriage and the birth of my daughter, Fiona, to fully open my eyes to the meaning of responsibility.
Becoming a father is one of the special joys of life. It is an unconditional love like no other I have experienced in my thirty-eight years. The helplessness and frailty of the new member of the family brought a shocking sense of my own mortality and of the long-term obligations I have to my child. Like many new parents, I was buying life insurance, becoming safety conscious, and planning for the future. As Fiona has grown and matured into a intelligent, self-confident young lady, my dedication and commitment to her have never diminished. Occasionally, I have been in the unfortunate position of having to choose between obligations to Fiona and to my wife, Li Ying. I am fortunate that Li Ying shares or at least is supportive of my core values. As I have grown into the position of family patriarch, the seriousness of purpose with which I fulfill my responsibilities has also grown.
In business, I eagerly pursue the highest level of responsibility I
can secure, given sufficient resources to accomplish the task. I will learn to delegate
responsibility and trust more effectively. I have a responsibility to nurture success in
others and in myself. Ultimately the buck stops with me. I cannot blame anyone else for my
own failures and I will not shirk my responsibilities.
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Copyright © Ronnie Oldham 1998. All rights reserved.
Revised: April 01, 2011.
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