6 Cultural Beliefs to Live By
Welcome, students. I wanted to tell you, as we started this new school year, the President had a fall workshop for all the faculty and staff—basically, everyone that works within these walls. And he titled it “Cultural Transitions—from Good to Great.” We had a facilitator come and help us define our cultural beliefs. After much soul searching, tough questions were asked and answered, opinions given and debated, and there was a consensus, a coming together of these cultural beliefs. Not an easy task, you might say, with all of the diverse minds and backgrounds of all those of us who work within these walls. But surprisingly, it was wonderful to see how similar our thoughts, our feelings about the College were.
Now why am I so surprised? When you ask in all sincerity for the Spirit’s guide and attendance in all your doings, you become “determined in one mind…in one heart, united in all things,” as stated in 2 Nephi 1:21. So here are our cultural beliefs—this is what we came up with. Now if you ask any teacher, any bookstore manager, the financial aid administrator, cashier—anyone who works here—they should be able to respond to what our culture is here, and what we believe with these six statements:
- “Do Right. I will do the will of Heaven to bless the youth of Zion.” You should be glad we picked this one. Listen to what we decided—“I will do the will of Heaven to bless the youth of Zion.” Guess who that is? That is you. We want to bless you.
- “Champion Every Student. Help every student reach their full potential.”
- “Value Others. I show gratitude for the work and contribution of others.” That of course includes everyone.
- “Counsel Together. I counsel with others and consider all viewpoints before acting.”
- “Be Accountable. I take responsibility for supporting decisions made, achieving results and reporting progress.”
- “Measure Success. I value and use measurement to achieve strategic initiatives.”
Now this was for those of us who work here—faculty, staff and everyone who works here. Brother Craig Nelson, vice president of student affairs, and a myriad of other titles—I can’t give you all of them, he’s way too busy—anyway, he brought you on board. Not just the faculty and staff, but you, our students, as well, so that we can all be, with the Spirit’s guidance, “determined in one mind, in one heart and united in all things.” So here’s how Brother Nelson defined the LDS Business College student cultural beliefs, and I think you all got a card as you walked in that gives you these, and also faculty and staff have a card for them. So these are the students’ cultural beliefs. You can read them as we go along. I will be discussing the first three. So I’ll start with:
- Do Right. I honor my commitments.
That covers a lot. You made a covenant with the Lord at baptism; you probably committed to your mom and dad that, since they’re supporting you here at the College, that you’d do well in your studies. The thing I want to emphasize today is your commitment to the Honor Code you signed. It says a lot about you, how seriously you take your word. When you sign it and put your good name to it, that you are committed, and you will do what you promised to do. Read the Honor Code again. Understand it. Be committed to it. And you will recognize if we all honor our commitments, it takes us from being just good to [being] great.
The Lord says in D&C 82:10, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” I, for one, when I get on my knees in the morning and ask for help and guidance for the day from the Lord, I want to have done my part. “Keep my commitments,” so the Lord is bound in love to hear and answer our prayers.
- Champion Every Student. Help others reach their full potential.
How do you do that? Jacob says, “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you” (Jacob 2:17). Now, Jacob was warning against pride in this scripture. He also says that “after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good” (Jacob 2:19). May I substitute “knowledge” for “riches” at this point in your life? You will obtain knowledge if you seek it, with the intent to use knowledge to do good—not to be prideful and say, “Look what I know and you don’t.” Sometimes, because we receive grades, others’ failures make us feel we look better. That is not what we want at LDS Business College.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, in a talk given in a CES fireside, said, “Some mistake the Church [and I’m going to say LDSBC] for a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things and think perfect thoughts and feel perfect feelings.” Doesn’t that just sound so nice? He says, “May I quickly dispel such thoughts? The Church [LDS Business College] is a place where imperfect people gather to help strengthen each other as we strive to return to live with our Heavenly Father.”
He also said, “The Church is a mutual improvement society, with a goal to help every son and daughter of God return to His presence. The way you can measure your value in the kingdom of God is to ask yourself, ‘How well am I doing in helping others reach their potential? Do I support the Church or do I tear them down?’ If you are tearing others down, you are tearing down the kingdom of God. If you are building others, you are building the kingdom.”
So our cultural belief is to champion each other, or build each other up.
- Value Others. I respect different viewpoints and cultures.
I quote the scripture, “Go and do thou likewise,” found in Luke (10:37). And I did that because of the parable. It’s at the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus told this parable, he used the Samaritan as the hero. We know there was great animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans at that time. Elder M. Russell Ballard, in his talk, “Doctrine of Inclusion,” states:
“His [Jesus’] deliberate use of Jews and Samaritans clearly teaches that we are all neighbors; that we should love, esteem, respect and serve one another, despite our deepest differences, including religion, politics and cultural differences.”
Elder Wirthlin in his talk, “Lessons Learned in the Journey of Life,” states: “Every one of us will travel different roads in mortality. We will each progress at different rates. Temptations that afflict your brother may not trouble you at all. Never look down on those who are less perfect than you. Never be upset because someone can’t speak as well as you, can’t read as well as you, can’t serve as well as you, can’t sew, hoe or glow as well as you.” I love the way he put that.
Now, I’m not saying that you should associate in any relationship that would put you at spiritual risk. What I am saying is, get to know each other. Value each other. Respect each other’s differences and build on each other’s strengths.
I know Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Redeemer, and I know He would want us to love one another. Do right. I honor my commitments. Champion every student. I help others reach their full potential. Value Others. I respect different viewpoints and cultures.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Isn’t she wonderful? You know, when I was in college, I was friends with her big sister. And one day, her big sister brought the little sister with her to study, who was in high school. Now, I was kind of interested. I was getting my masters degree, and she was in high school. I talked to her sister about this—her older sister—and I said, “You know, I’m kind of interested here. How do you think we can work this out?”
She said, “You come over to my house one night and we’ll study together.” And so we did that, and invited Sytske to come study. And she wondered why this returned missionary who was graduated from college was over studying with them. And anyway, it all worked out. So if you get the Spirit, just go after it, and look what you might end up with. She’s been a terrific companion. We’ve done so many great things together.
She talked about our cultural transition. This has been a great experience the last few weeks, as we’ve gone through, with the faculty and staff, a cultural transition. And now we’re beginning on a cultural transition with you, the students. Now why would we do this? Is it necessary? Maybe not, but we think it’s a good thing to do.
As I look out over this audience, I am absolutely thrilled because I see beautiful young people who are here, you’re here for a specific purpose--you’re here to learn. So I’m going to ask you to ask yourself life’s three most important questions.
First of all, who are you? Think about it. Define that, and take that a step further and define who you want to be. Where do you want to go? Where do you want to be in five years? Now, let us help you get there.
What’s the purpose for you being on earth? Now, that’s a little bigger than just who you are. But it’s also important for you to know why you’re here.
And number three, are you here to do something, or are you just here to have something to do? Now think about that for a minute. If you want to accomplish something in your life, you’ve got to set goals, you’ve got to do something about it, and you have to achieve it.
I went to a conference where we were talking about—and these are a couple of slides I brought from the conference—the four generations that we’re dealing with, that are on earth today. My generation is that very first one, called the Traditionalists. Things are a little different in today’s culture, different than the way I grew up. Look down at some of the technology, and I think I’ll dwell on that for a minute.
When I was a young man, I remember—we didn’t have TVs, but I remember my grandfather, you know, who had been through the second World War and the first World War—every day when I would go over to his house, he was always sitting there next to the radio. He wanted to hear the news. He wanted to find out what’s going on in the world. He used to always listen to the radio, and he used to always tell us kids to be quiet, because he wanted to hear the radio. Now think how much different that is than today. My grandparents didn’t even have refrigerators. They had ice boxes, and you know, you’d put ice in the top and it would keep things cool for a while.
Go on to the next group, which are the Baby Boomers. I don’t know if any of you will remember this, but I can remember when we got our first telephone in our house. It was a four-party line. Now what did that mean? That meant four other families on the block shared that one telephone line with you. You’d have to organize your time into blocks when you could use the telephone. Is that different than today?
Now we move on to the Baby Busters, and that’s the group who were born in 1965 to 1976. I think most of you students are probably in that last group, which we call the Millennials, the Gen-Y'ers, the Net Generation, the Echo-Boomers. Lots of names for your generation. But look how things have changed, and it’s just a short period of time, just in that many years. I can remember meeting with our technology people, and I still remember the day when we did phone messages, we used to use these little pink pads of paper, and we’d write on them and we’d pass them around, about who had called—and one day, I think Brent Cherrington came to me, and he said, “You know, there’s this thing they’re starting. It’s called the Internet.”
And I said, “Explain what that means.”
“Well, right through our computer we can talk to each other, and we can put phone messages through the computer.”
I said, “Gosh, we have to do that. Let’s get started on that.”
So we did. Now you students are getting instant messaging, you’re doing text messaging. In fact, people have told me—and I can’t do this—but people have told me you can text message in your pocket with a telephone. Now, that’s a phenomenon. I can’t do that, but a lot of you can.
So our values—our values are a little different. If you look at this, my generation—they called it the loyal generation. Honor was the big thing. Your word was your bond, those types of things. And look who our heroes were. Our heroes were John Wayne. Any of you remember John Wayne? He was the man, you know. But look how we move through the generations to this generation.
Who are some of the people —I don’t know whether we call them heroes—we’re calling them influential people. But the people you read about in the newspaper every day are Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, you know. I don’t think they’re the finest examples for your generation, but they’re out there, and so you have to deal with that. And you have to make a choice. Do you want to go that direction, or do you want to go this direction. You really do have to choose. And so that’s why I say set your goals out there and then work backwards.
Let me tell you a little story about Sir Christopher Wren. He was an architect that lived several hundred years ago in Europe, and he actually was responsible for building some of the great cathedrals of Europe. He was the architect. And he decided to go around and talk to some of the workers. He wanted to see what their feelings were; how they felt about what they were doing. So he walks up to one of the workers and says, “What are you doing here?”
And this young man said, “I’m pounding on a rock.” And that didn’t inspire him a whole lot.
So he goes to the next one. He says, “What are you doing here?”
He answered, “Well, I’m making two rupees an hour.” That was what was important to him at the time.
And he goes to the third, and the third says, “I am helping Sir Christopher Wren build a magnificent cathedral.” Now that was the answer he wanted to hear. Someone who was on the same page as he was—he being the architect, they being the worker, but they had the same vision, the same goal.
That’s what we’re trying to do here. So I’m going to ask you a question, a very simple question. Is good good enough? We saw on that very first slide, we used the words “Good to Great.” We did not create those words. Those words were used by Jim Collins, who wrote the book Good to Great. He was a professor at the Stanford Business School. Then he left to be a consultant for business and, in reading his book you learn some great things. You learn that good is not good enough. Because if you’re good, that means you think you’ve gone as far as you’re going to go, and you’re a little bit complacent about it. You’re just fine. Everything’s going well; you get up in the morning, you go to bed at night, you do your job.
But that is not good enough. If you want to be great, you have to make a transition; hence, we decided to do a cultural transition for the College. And I might say it’s actually being done all over the Church, because the Church is changing at a very rapid rate. Our facilitator at the time told us that his responsibility and his team’s responsibility is to help the leaders of the Church as the Church grows from 13 million, where it is today, to 50 million people. Now that’s a huge, a giant leap forward, and it requires a different culture.
Here’s a quote from him: “How do you get to greatness? Well, it’s discipline. You have to have discipline about your thoughts, about your actions, about your principles. You have to know who you are. You have to know where you’re going, and you have to realize that you’re not just here taking up space.”
I went to a retreat—the Utah Campus Compact is an organization that we belong to, and all thirteen colleges and universities in the State of Utah are members of the Utah Campus Compact. Several of you students will have a chance to be leaders in that organization. We had a retreat a few weeks ago, and this was one of the things that was posted on the door as we walked in: “There is no power for change greater than a community that discovers what it cares about.”
Now those of you who have something to write with, think for a moment. What do you care about? Write something down. What do you care about? Because whatever you care about is what’s going to facilitate change in your life. If you care about something more noble, that’s the direction you’re going to go. If you care about something that is not so noble, that’s the direction you’re going to go. So by writing this down, what you care about, you are choosing your future, and you can see the future by looking at the page.
I’m going to give you a homework assignment to go along with that. This is your homework assignment for tonight. If you care about things that are above yourself at this point in time—there are things that you want to accomplish that you haven’t yet accomplished—I would suggest that you’re going to have to change some things. That’s why we call it cultural shift. You have to change from what you’re doing to the things that you should be doing. And therefore, you have to stop some things, and you have to start some things. So I’m just going to give you one example.
I think I’ll ask for a raise of hands. Have any of you ever been pressured by your friends to do something that you didn’t want to do? Raise your hand. Look at that. I see almost every hand going up. Stop doing that. Stop yielding to pressure and start demonstrating honesty and integrity. Now what does that really mean? I’m going to read you a story. I actually got this story at a Boy Scout conference over here at the Salt Palace. One of the speakers was Bob Evans from Fox 13 News. You’ve probably seen him. And this is the story that he told, and I asked him if he would send me a copy, and he did. True story—not his story, but a story about someone that he was reading about:
“As a high school coach, I did all that I could to help my boys win their game. I rooted as hard for victory as they did. A dramatic incident, however, following a game in which I officiated as a referee, changed my perspective on victories and defeats. I was referee in a league championship basketball game in New Rochelle, New York between New Rochelle and Yonkers High. New Rochelle was coached by Dan O’Brien, Yonkers by Les Beck. The gym was crowded to capacity and the volume of noise made it impossible to hear. The game was well-played and closely contested. Yonkers was leading by one point, as I glanced at the clock and discovered there were thirty seconds left to play.
“Yonkers, in possession of the ball, passed it off, shot, missed. New Rochelle recovered, pushed the ball up the court, shot. The ball rolled tantalizing around the rim and fell off. New Rochelle, the home team, recovered the ball, tapped it in for what looked like a victory. The tumult was deafening. I glanced at the clock and saw that the game was over. I hadn’t heard the final buzzer because of the noise. I checked with the other official. He could not help me.
“Still seeking to help in this bedlam, I approached the timekeeper, a young man of seventeen. He said, ‘Mr. Covino, the buzzer went off as the ball rolled around the rim before the final tap-in was made.’
“I was in the unenviable position of having to tell Coach O’Brien the sad news. ‘Dan,’ I said, ‘Time ran out before that final basket was tapped in. Yonkers has won the game.’”
“His face clouded over. The young timekeeper came up and he said, ‘I’m sorry, Dad. Time ran out before the final basket.’
“Suddenly, like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, Coach O’Brien, his face lit up, said, ‘That’s okay, Joe. You did what you had to do and I’m proud of you.’
“Turning to me, he said, ‘I’d like you to meet my son.’”
Could you stand up to that? Just think of that young man. All he would have to do is say no. So our fourth cultural belief is:
- Counsel Together. Learn from others.
We do something here called collaborative learning. You’ll do this in your classrooms, where you will work together. We hear you. Remember, two minds are better than one. Instead of accusing people, why don’t you go around trying to catch someone doing something right? And when you do, counsel with them. Befriend them. Let them be your example.
The Nephites, when they decided to separate from the Lamanites, had to make some decisions. So I’m just going to draw a little parallel universe here, from 2 Nephi 5. They had to make a decision, and what did they do? They counseled together. They counseled together; they decided to call the name of their place Nephi, and they decided to call themselves Nephites. But they did this by counseling together.
- Be Accountable. I take responsibility for my obligations as a student.
Now when you leave today, we’re going to give you a card that we got when we did our cultural transition. On one side, it says, “Below the Line”; on the other side it says, “Above the Line.” Well, what is the difference? Let me give you some examples.
Some of the “Below the Line” excuses—and this really works. I carry these cards around, so we’ve stopped arguing about everything. When we’re talking, we just hold up our card. “Dear, that was below the line.” Okay, let’s move it to above the line. It really works. Some of the excuses for being below the line:
- To ignore it or deny it. “I didn’t do it. It must have been Joe, over there. Not me.”
- “It’s not my job.” Have you ever heard that? That’s the one that tires me the most, when people say, “It’s not my job.” Because all that means is that they’re not taking responsibility for anything.
- Or you point the finger. I get in meetings when this happens. We deal with a lot of Church entities here—other people do the yard, other Church entities provide food for us, provide the dorms for us, a lot of things. And in some of our meetings, I can tell you, we sit there and do this. And I try to cut through that very quickly. It doesn’t do anybody any good to say, “Well, this person should have done it, or that person should have done it.” The point is, something should have been done; let’s get the job done.
- Or, confusion. Just saying, “I’m confused. Just tell me what I’m supposed to do and I’ll do it.”
- Cover your tail. You know, that’s a waste of time. Some people do that, but it’s a waste of time. What that means is, you’re worried about what somebody might say, so you sit and write…you watch people, and when they make a mistake, you write it down, you put it in a little file in your drawer in case you ever need it to use against them.
These are all Below the Line. And probably the worst one is just to procrastinate. Just to not do anything, just to wait. Wait and see what happens.
Okay, let’s get “Above the Line.” It’s really very simple. It’s hard to do, but the words are simple. First of all, you have to see it. You have to decide what it is. You have to own it. That means you take the responsibility yourself. And then, probably with the help of others, you solve it. You solve the problem. You set up a plan. You set up a solution. We do this every day. And then you just do it. You just do it, and you make sure that it happens.
I’m just going to touch on the Honor and Dress Code. Sytske has brought that up, and you know, what I see here is wonderful. We have concerns about the way students dress. Now you’re all dressed appropriately, the ones that I can see. But on a regular school day, that’s not always the case. I’m asking you, and I’ll ask you now, to step it up. We’re going to try to work with your student leaders and decide how together we can just step it up, and to be accountable. Think of some things, as you’re stepping it up. When you’re sitting in class, look at yourself and say, “If I were going out on a career interview right after this class, how would I be accepted?”
The business community has gone several ways with dress codes. I can tell you that. I first joined the IBM Corporation. Back in the 1960s you could see somebody from IBM coming a block away, because they were always wearing a white shirt, a blue suit, wing-tip shoes. It was almost like the uniform.
And then it kind of swung back the other way; they dressed down a little. I can tell you now it’s come back, and the business community dresses for success, and that’s the code word we ought to use here.
Here’s a quote from Elder D. Todd Christofferson, who’s one of the Presidents of the Seventy. He was also in our prior stake. He says, “If one does not appreciate holy things, he will lose them. Absent a feeling of reverence, he or she will grow increasingly casual in attitude and lax in conduct.” I’m just warning you, be careful. Be careful about this. How you dress affects how you act and the opposite is also true: how you act affects how you dress. So, let’s step it up together.
Another…from the same scripture. I’m just following the same scripture in 2 Nephi 5: “It came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands.” (v. 17) They were accountable all the way along. They made it happen.
- Measure Our Success is the sixth cultural belief which was written down.
And I took the example about where the Nephites built the temple similar to Solomon’s Temple, and “the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine” (2 Nephi 5:16). So as you measure yourself, ask yourself that question: “Was the work that I did today ‘exceedingly fine’?”
How can we measure our success? I’ve often said that everything I ever needed to know in life I learned in Primary. That is: Do what is right and tell the truth. I lean back on that all the time. If you do those two things, you’re going to be successful in life.
I was going to ask one of you students to stand up and recite the 13th Article of Faith. I learned it in Primary, but I can’t recite it today. But I wanted to close with that. “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report, we seek after these things.”
We would hope that you seek after those things. We do, and we hope you do, and we hope that together we’re going to have a wonderful, wonderful year together. I want to leave you my testimony that I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that we have been given this great opportunity to come to earth at this time—a time when there’s a lot of tumult in the world, and I guess there always will be. But together, we can succeed together. We have the gospel that we can grab on to. We have our leaders telling us which directions we should go. I want to leave you with my testimony that Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet of God. Fortunately, I get to meet with him on a monthly basis, along with the other presidents of BYU and Seminaries and Institutes, where we discuss what is happening within the Church Educational System. We discuss it together. He loves you. He cares about you. For those of you who have heard about our dedication of this building, and when he spoke—his parents, in fact, met at LDS Business College.
I want you to know that I love you. I know that Sytske loves you, and I know your teachers love you. I share this with you, and I do this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.