We All Have Fundamentals | May Update from Craig Clark

Be accountable is the hallmark of a strong leader

We All Have Fundamentals

This newsletter is usually a recap of Momentum’s Fundamentals, which is part of “the Fundamental process”, our approach to building High Performing Cultures.

We have 26 Fundamentals, behavioral practices, at Momentum and we feature one every week, not just for you, but for us also.

We talk about it whenever we meet, for example, and we talk about them here.  This is just one of the rituals we use to institutionalize them into our company Culture and more importantly into our everyday behavior.

After working with the notions of fundamentals, I have come to believe that all of us have a set of fundamentals, albeit like Core Values, internal and mostly unrecognized.

My Core Fundamentals at a Young Age

When I was in Junior High we lived on the outskirts of Houston, which happens to be inside the beltway now.  However back then it was “out there” and my school pulled from a large area, most of us rode school buses to and from school.

On the way home one day I got in a name-calling exchange with Larry Conti, a kid about my size, and got mad enough to follow him off of the bus and challenged him to “finish this” and I “put my dukes up”!

He put his horn case down (he played in the band) and assumed the position.  We were circling each other, trying to look fierce when I saw tears start to well up in his eyes. This completely disarmed me. He then said he was afraid that if we fought and he lost a tooth he couldn’t play his horn.

Suddenly, my anger evaporated, I felt compassion and I quickly reassured him things were OK and let’s just forget it and be friends again.  An early personal fundamental experience, unrecognized at the time.

Aligning Behaviors with Core Values

Over the years, anytime I saw someone intimidating someone else, my anger would flare up and so often found myself rooting/feeling for the underdog.

When I started examining personal Core Values, something we work with a lot at Momentum, I realized those were unacceptable behaviors to my Core Value of Dignity.

As I began to uncover and study my own Core Values, remember I said earlier they are mostly unrecognized to us, I realized that although values tend to be abstract, behaviors are not.

If we look at what would amount to a life of high performance for us, we would start to recognize there are behaviors, fundamentals, that would constitute living that kind of a life.  I think the problem is when they happen we just experience them as value judgments, not recognizing they are actually our set of fundamentals quietly speaking to us.

We may unconsciously ignore them because we are afraid they are too hard to live up to, but perhaps even harder to live down.

To self-examine and uncover my unrecognized personal fundamentals demand a higher level of awareness from me.  It also calls for a higher level of accountability from me begin to reshape my behavior to match my fundamentals.

It has often been reported that a young George Washington, upon reading Francis Hawkins book Youths behaviour, or, Decency in conversation amongst men, famously wrote his 104 Rules of Civility, by which he endeavored to live his life.

By all accounts, he was successful.

He developed his personal set of “fundamentals”, which required introspection and raising his awareness to what he wanted out of life, what he valued and what behaviors would allow him to live up to both. The rest, as they say, “is history.”

Speaking of history, I don’t know if Larry is still playing his horn, but I appreciate the moment he gave me that day, although it’s taken a number of years to appreciate.

Hopefully, if you have read this far, you are asking yourself “what are mine.”  It’s a worthy path, not for sissies!

Until next month!



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