I’ve mentioned previously when a concept or term keeps popping up repeatedly, I often think that I should give it my attention. This week it was “congruence”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines this as something that’s in “agreement or harmony”.
Earlier this week a few people used the terms “congruent” and “congruence” in a meeting where we were talking about something in teaching and learning that is called “constructive alignment”. Basically this is that what you expect students to know or be able to do by the end of the course needs to be in alignment with what you teach them and the assignments or tests you give them. When any of those are out of alignment with the others students get annoyed and instructors are often left wondering why the students did so awful on the final exam. All three need to be in congruence or there’s a problem.
Brendon Burchard talks a lot about congruence as well. He wrote an entire chapter about it in his book The Charge. In it he explained:
“When you actions are congruent with who you want to be in life, how you want to feel, and what you think you should be doing and achieving, then you start to have a stronger internal constitution. You feel more grounded, responsible, sure. A new level of harmony and steadiness enters you life, and you feel proud of who you are and how you interact with the world.”
Because of this coming up at the meeting earlier in the week, I was already considering how congruent I am in my own life. For example, I feel strongly about being healthy and I’m proud of how fit I am, but lately I’ve been eating too much sugar. That’s not particularly congruent with how I see myself and who I want to be, including being a good role model for my daughter.
So this was on my mind when I got to the chapter called “Living Into Our Values” in Brené Brown‘s latest book Dare to Lead. In the chapter she explains:
“Living into our values means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them. We walk our talk — we are clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviours align with those beliefs.”
There I was, on the bus on my way into work on Thursday when I read that and I thought ‘Woah, that’s congruence.’
So, to borrow something else from Dr. Brown, I’ve been “rumbling” with my own congruence this week. What are the values that I take with me into every situation, that I live out every day? What are the values that I want to be living out every day?
I thought ‘Well, it’s my manifesto’, but she said there should only be two to three “core values” that encompass all those details, and she even includes a long list of suggestions in the book, with space for you to add your own. As part of my rumbling I’ve thought about a few possibilities while looking at my manifesto to see if some key themes came up. Four words came to me, and sure enough they’re on her list, but four words is too many so I’ve narrowed it to three:
Love – the first item on my manifesto is to “love fully, my friends, my family, the stranger, and myself.” Loving others and myself is part of several other items, including trying to make the world a better place, inspiring others, and not comparing myself to others.
Health – this includes “caring for my body and should by eating healthy, being active, meditating, and listening to my body” as well as letting things from the past go and being consistent in completing my daily personal habits.
Growth – I’m a big believer in lifetime learning and included in my manifesto that I want to “challenge myself to learn, to try, new things, to grow” plus “learn from it all, each success, each mistake, each joy, and each heartbreak.”
The one that I dropped was “courage”. I realized that courage is embedded within the other three. I’m exhibiting courage when I try something new, when I’m being vulnerable with others (necessary for love), and when I push myself during a workout or sign up for a workout class.
For now, I’m going to keep rumbling with “living into my values” and being the person that I want to be. As Dr. Brown points out, this isn’t always easy. Doing the right thing is often difficult, but when actions and words align with values, and I can go to bed at night and feel like I was a good role model for my daughter and others, then I’ll probably sleep with a lighter heart and a clearer head so it’s worth it.