Stand up for Your Beliefs and Values

Peer pressure is part of growing up. I wish that weren’t true as we grow older, but I think it’s just as much a reality for adults as it is for teens.


For some reason, some people feel compelled to tell us who our friends ought to be, what brand of jeans we should wear, whom we should date, and how we should deal with relationships, politics, money, faith, and so on. We’ve all been in that uncomfortable situation when we disagree with the “sage advice” we receive from our peers. Sometimes we push back, but other times, we’re reluctant to defend our beliefs out of fear or embarrassment.


How do you respond when you’re challenged to stand up for your beliefs or values?


Besides the pressure young adults receive from their peers, today’s colleges present a new form of pressure, and students had better be prepared for it! They’ve become increasingly more politicized than when I was in college, especially in the classroom. All too often, we hear stories of professors acting like agents of indoctrination (i.e., “You have a right to my opinion”) rather than agents of education where the objective is to present all sides of an issue. Has this been your (or your student’s) experience? Sadly, sometimes there is outright hostility, intimidation, and grading bias when students do not conform to their professors’ views.


There will also be instances on the job where we disagree with our manager or employer regarding a business practice or issue. As with the college professor situation, much may be at stake if an employee resists or pushes back.


These situations are difficult and need to be treated sensitively and carefully. Here are some tips for standing up for your beliefs and values when they are challenged:

·      Know what your beliefs and values ARE. You need to know this before you can stand up for them!

·      Always remember that you have every right to your opinion, and being able to share that opinion with respectful conviction will serve you well in life.

·      You should respectfully confront such individuals in private to share your position and concerns (who knows, you might become a change agent yourself?).

·      Be willing to walk. Remember, not everyone is meant to be your friend. And in job situations if there is significant conflict with your values, it may be time to move on to greener pastures. 


Do you respect your beliefs and values enough to defend them in the face of hostility? How have you learned to communicate them clearly and stand up for them?  We’d like to hear your advice and experiences!


Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep

Imagine you see two movies (if you can find two movies worth seeing!).  The critic in you rates them each four out of five stars. Prior to going, you expected the first one to rate three stars and the second one a perfect five.

            Did you experience the same level of satisfaction from both movies?


            Interestingly, probably not!

            If you’re like most people, you left more satisfied after the first one. That’s because it turned out better than you expected. In contrast, you were probably a little disappointed with the second one because it wasn’t as great as you thought it would be.

            This illustration demonstrates the importance that expectations play in our lives. The greater the expectations, the greater the risk of disappointment. It also explains why it’s so important to keep your promises. After all, if someone promises you something, you’re entitled to expect they’ll deliver on their word.

            Some people habitually overpromise and underdeliver. They promise the moon because they aim to please. They say what people want to hear and feed off of their enthusiasm. However, all they do is create false hope when they can’t deliver on their promises. After a few of these incidents, people will figure them out as manipulators. Their credibility is lost forever.


            When we don’t keep a promise to someone, it messages that we don’t value or respect them. Rather, we valued something else more highly than our commitment. We communicate to others that they cannot count on us. This takes a heavy toll on our relationships—personally and professionally.


            If anything, it pays to underpromise and overdeliver. By doing so, you’ll pleasantly surprise others by exceeding their expectations. Here are some ideas for what that can look like:

·                            In your own mind, honestly appraise what you’re willing and realistically able to do for them.

  •  Allow yourself a “fudge factor” – estimate a slightly longer delivery time, slightly higher cost, slightly lower quality, etc.


  • If the project takes longer or costs more, you’ll still be able to come close to your original estimate. And if you’re able to deliver under your original estimate, you look like a hero!


            Do yourself and others a big favor. Either deliver on your promises or don’t make them in the first place. It’s a hallmark of integrity!


Have you observed how others have reacted when you failed to deliver on your promises? Why should this be a part of how we train our young people? Do you have any experiences with this lesson?  We’d love to hear from you!


Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

Life is a series of choices, some planned and some not. Some involve fun and others involve pain. Some are made from the mind and others from the heart. Some turn out well, and some we regret.

I was blessed to work for an amazing leader, George Russell, who could distill the complex down to simple truisms or questions. One of them was, “If you’re not sure whether to do something, imagine it as the headline in tomorrow’s newspaper.” Yowza!

This works like a charm in our personal lives, too—heeding that “inner voice” that has our best interests at heart. I know every time I ignored it, I lived to regret it.

It’s that time of year again. Graduation exhilaration runs rampant. Parties abound. There is much to celebrate—and, you guessed it—lots of values-based choices! Are your kids ready to make the right ones, both now and in the future?

In a cultural climate where “values” are often measured on a slippery scale of personal taste, convenience, self-gratification, and “tolerance,” kids can get into real trouble when they dismiss the caution signals. That’s why helping young people identify their values and strengthen their conscience is so important.


Yes, I am advocating “conscience training!” In times of growing independence, freedom, and opportunities, young people are increasingly faced with risky situations that require quick decisions. In some cases, often involving alcohol, drugs, sex, social media, and cheating, one bad decision in the heat of the moment may do irrepairable harm and derail their future plans and dreams.             


That’s why having—and listening to—that little voice in their head is so important in high-risk situations. Here are some ways to help set your teen up for success when it’s their turn:

·      Have them list their non-negotiable values

·      Help them identify potential risks before the fact

·      Discuss potential situations that may put their reputation and integrity at risk and how difficult it can be to recover

·      Remind them their best bet is to avoid these situations altogether before they occur. And, if they can’t avoid them, they should at least decide in advance how they will react if their values are tested.

I’ve heard far too many stories of people who didn’t heed this advice and whose college terms or career aspirations were abbreviated because of it. They often lose years of momentum and wander aimlessly in the aftermath.  Many times this could have been avoided had they asked themselves one simple question:

“How will my conscience feel in the morning?”

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make a quick decision that challenged your value system? Did you have the courage to go with your values over the pressure you received from others? Share your experiences with your teen. Remember that life is about learning and recovering from our mistakes, and that stories are often the best teachers.

Let’s Reclaim Our Innocence

Like most of you, my heartache from the horrific news of Sandy Hook lingers unabated. When the unthinkable happens, your emotions run the gamut, and aside from praying powerful prayers, you feel so helpless…especially when you live clear across the country. Connecticut holds a special place in my heart, having lived in Rowayton for two wonderful years in the 80s. And, as someone whose first career desire was to be Santa Claus, and who lost a three-year old nephew to a tragic car accident, you can understand why anything that takes away the innocence of childhood just rips me apart.
Now that my emotions have swung from anger to profound sorrow, I’m asking whether it’s possible for something good to come out of this tragedy. I’m wondering if, to honor the victims, families, friends, and caregivers, we can band together and heal our nation and our culture. Let’s not simply say, “enough is enough.” For once, can we actually do something about it?
What exactly is “it,” you ask? “It” is reclaiming the childhood innocence that has been gnawed at and chipped away with each passing year—a loss that is devastating our families and our nation.
What does that involve?
First, it means we demand better from those who influence the lives of children through their messages, their lyrics, their images, their advertisements, their products, their movies, their TV shows, their video games, and their laws and regulations. I grew up during a time and place when most entertainment was family friendly and parents didn’t need to have their finger poised to the off switch of the TV, radio, and turntable. Back then, mature adults seemed in charge of the cultural messages and content sent to our children, and we all survived just fine! In fact, the statistics on divorce rates, children born to unmarried parents, dropout rates, teen suicide, gang violence, unplanned pregnancies, abortions, STDs—you name it—were a whole lot better.
Can’t we just acknowledge that today’s sexualized and violence-obsessed culture isn’t working? And stop the denial?
Second, it means our culture drivers and schools promote honorable and universal values that are celebrated for their virtue. Values like modesty, kindness, generosity, respect, and dignity are the “new cool.” That what’s on the inside is emphasized more that what’s on the outside. That the voices demonstrating the courage to stand up to immorality are honored and respected. That those defending irresponsible messages to children as “simply reflecting culture” are rebuked for the lie they are perpetrating. That those who want to voluntarily pray are not discriminated against. And, that those influencing our children start putting their content and messages through a “child innocence filter.”
This is not meant to take away from the national conversations we need about our policies and regulations regarding mental illness and weapons. They, too, are deserving. But, on this day, I can’t seem to get out of my mind the image of a child from the great place of Newtown asking of us, “Can’t we be kids for just a little while longer?”
They deserve better. And, I pray we have the courage to deliver it.
With Love and Blessings to the People of Newtown,
Dennis Trittin