A code of conduct known as Chivalry, derived from the Old French word for ‘horsemanship” governed the actions of knights and noblemen in Medieval Europe. King Arthur’s court offers the finest example of knights bound by this honour code. Arthurian legends are a showcase for knights bound by their word even if the consequences of keeping their word may cost them their happiness or even their lives.
For example, in the story of Sir Gawain and Ragnall, Gawain stays true to his word to wed the hag-like Ragnall after she saves King Arthur’s life. Fortunately, Ragnall is actually a beautiful maiden under enchantment and Gawain’s wisdom lifts the spell and reveals her beauty.
In the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Gawain (not sure why Gawain’s the one attracting these predicaments) keeps his word and meets the Green Knight at the Green Chapel to receive a deathly blow. What a man. Fortunately, the Green Knight turns out to be one of the knights of the round table, Bercilak, under Morgan Le Fay’s spell. Gawain’s life is spared and he’s proven himself an honourable knight.
Though Chivalry wasn’t set in stone in that it was a varying code of conduct developed between 1170 and 1220, the values it most strongly represents are honesty, generosity and courage. When a word left a knight’s mouth, he was bound by it and his actions were sure to follow. This was the strength of King Arthur’s round table and his kingdom, Camelot. Accountability.
All knights doing as they say.
Today we see a code of conduct among professionals. And aren’t professionals today’s version of knights and noblemen? They’ve traded in their suit of armour for business suits, their swords are the mobile phones which is the tool for cutting deals and executing decisions and horses for automobiles but at its source, it’s the same idea. Well, it’s supposed to be.
Unfortunately, not all professions are deemed as noble as others. In the medical profession, yes, there’s the Hippocratic Oath, “do no harm”. But no such code of ethics exists in business or law. In fact, the rules of corporate business seem to wink and say “grow profits, even if this means doing massive harm to people and the planet”.
Also the creative professions don’t have a standard code of conduct. Neither do artists. Without a code of conduct we get unpredictability, which is nature of art, of course. However, it makes it frustrating for business people when it comes to working with artists because they want to pin down three things:
- What will you deliver?
- When will you deliver?
- How much?
As Freelancers, how many of us have sat down and written out our core values which determine our key behaviours or conduct?
If we want to be respected as professionals, then having a professional code of conduct is the starting point.
“Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”
So below are my values and below them are my key behaviours.
- Constantly create new ideas which prove to be useful
- Write every day and share writing with other freelancers and look for publishing opportunities in the local media
- Challenge prevailing assumptions and write suggestions for better approaches
- Keep nimble by finding the time to minimise complexity and simplify
- Thrive on change
- Collaborate with local freelancers from diverse backgrounds and with different attributes and skillsets
- Provide candid, helpful and timely feedback local businesses looking to improve
- Recognise we all have biases and work to grow past them
- Intervene if someone is being marginalised
- Always meet and greet deadlines with good humour, joyful spirit and a warm welcome
- Make tough decisions without agonising
- Say “no” to projects if it’s not a “heck yeah!”
- Treat people with respect even if you disagree with their views.
- Learn rapidly and contribute to businesses outside of your speciality
- Seek alternate perspectives
- Live simply, make space for creativity
- Take care of mind, body and spirit to ensure all dealings come from a place of well-being and generosity
Over to you…
What are the three things you value the most in life? How are your key behaviours supporting your values so that you’re creating a life in line with your core values?