In the space between Chapter’s 1 & 2 of Busting Your Corporate Idol: How To Reconnect With Values & Regain Control Of Your Life, here is an old school post about values and priorities.
As rule, I don’t talk about political issues here, but the way the media handled the Supreme Court’s healthcare decision has pulled me close to the fray. This morning CNN had a countdown clock on screen until the time of the SCOTUS decusion on the Affordable Health Care Act. 10:00 came and went, and still no decision. The announcers acted like the kid that had to go to the bathroom, but won’t leave because they are afraid they will miss something. And as my daughters and I watched, we felt the tension.
Then, it flashed on the screen. People were seen running out of the courthouse, and the decision was in. The individual mandate was struck down. This is a law that has divided the country. Some people see it as a door to bring health care to tens of millions of people, others see it as an unwanted government encrouchment on individual liberty. This is a core values issue. So with the decision in, CNN immediately started talking about the presidential election. “What would Mitt Romney do?” Really?
But something did not smell right to me, so I switched to MSNBC, which had the opposite on the screen: Individual Mandate Upheld. So then I went to the NY Times website. And they said something like this. ”The Supreme Court Decision is in. We are reading it, and when we understand what it says, we will release a flood of coverage.”
CNN had it wrong.
Values On Display
Every company has a set of shared values that define its culture. They often don’t correlate with the set of the values in the company handbook, and certainly include some subtle and unconscious behaviors by employees. It’s like the story about the fish that doesn’t know what water is – it’s hard to see the things we take for granted. Values set priorities and guide decisions.
The Times and CNN both had the same data, but acted in very different ways, which I think reflects different underlying values in those companies.
For each news organization, which is more important, getting there fast, or getting it right?
I see a lot of handwringing about the 24 hours news cycle killing the quality of news. Well guess what, I wanted to know the answer right away, went to the NY Times website (which I routinely check multiple times a day from my iPhone) and was told it was more important to give the right answer.
CNN: This is a mistake that didn’t need to happen. If you really care about quality, look in the mirror and figure out how to drive a cultural change.
A Quick Note On Freedom
While we’re talking about about healthcare, lets talk about freedom. If you hated your job, had 2 years salary in the bank, would you quit your job if it meant that your family lost its health insurance till you found a new one? No way. In Chapter 1 of my book Busting Your Corporate Idol, I made reference to the two months my wife and I spent preparing for my departure from the corporate world. And a major topic was health insurance. If my wife didn’t have a secure job at a company with great health insurance benefits, I would not have become a stay at home parent, and followed my dream to be an author.
I recently interviewed a VP at one of the twenty largest companies in the world. He lives in a house well below his means because it gives him freedom. A large mortgage is unquestionably something that constrains choices – that bill needs to be paid, and that can mean going along with things at work that may be personally distasteful. He maintains a good work life balance in part because he knows that he could, in a pinch, take a salary cut and not lose his house.
And health insurance is even a bigger deal financially than a mortgage. The number one cause of personal bankruptcy? Health insurance bills. (More here.)
Severing the link between employment and health insurance will go a long way towards correcting the chronic overwork epidemic in the United States. Why? Because it will be one fewer reason that people stay in unhappy work situations. The Affordable Care Act is an important step in severing that link.
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