Friday, March 11, 2011

Guess Which Organization Has THESE As Their Core Values: Part Two, The Surprising Answer

Okay, remember we wanted to know which organization champions these values?

•Tell The Truth
•Be Fair
•Keep Your Promises
•Respect The Individual
•Encourage Intellectual Curiosity

And the answer is:

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles.


I was talking last week with my brother-in-law, who races motorcycles and teaches motorcycle safety, about the whole Harley-Davidson motorcycle culture, and he shared with me that the reason he's so committed and proud to be part of the Harley-Davidson community is what they stand for.

And I said, slightly sarcastic, "what? Revving their engines super loud? Looking tough?"

And he pulled this out of his wallet:

I was floored.

Harley Davidson? The leather-wearing, super-butch biker crowd holds "Tell The Truth" as one of their five core values? "Be Fair?" "Keep Your Promises?" "Respect The Individual?" It sounds like some high achieving elementary school creed. And then, "Encourage Intellectual Curiosity" - and when I read that fifth core value, I could almost hear my inner stereotypes about "bikers" shatter.

I mean, hey, I know my brother-in-law, and it's no surprise to me that he holds those values. But even knowing how involved he is in the world of Harley-Davidson, and racing motorcycles, it didn't occur to me that maybe the other guys on the bikes, with the handlebar moustaches and the leather chaps, with the shiny chrome bikes and the ear-splitting engines, maybe they, too, are all about telling the truth, and being fair, and keeping your promises, and respecting the individual, and encouraging their own and others' intellectual curiosity.

And all I can say is, wow. I didn't realize I was holding onto that stereotype and putting a whole group of people into a box that was based on myth and fear and ignorance.

But now I (and you) know better.

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. They've got some awesome core values.

And the next time I meet a biker, I'll treat them (even in my mind) with more respect.

Stereotypes are insidious things - and it's always fascinating (and humbling) to call ourselves on holding them. Knowledge is power, and the more we know about others, the better world we will all create.

So, did you see that coming?

Thanks, Steve.



ivanova said...

Nice post! This makes me think about who I am holding stereotypes about.

I would never have guessed Harley Davidson.

I'm not surprised to hear that big burly bikers have high ethical standards. But I am really surprised to hear about a company that has those core values, and upholds them. I know they were the first company to voluntarily enroll in some kind of environmental program to lower emissions, so maybe they are legit.

Lisa Jenn Bigelow said...

That rocks! I had no idea Harley-Davidson even had a set of organization values, much less ones I can so get behind.

Anonymous said...

I already knew bikers are nice people, but to have those values as official and in print? Awesomeness. *squee*

Anonymous said...

Several of my friends and colleagues ride motorcycles. They are all nice people who don't fit the Hollywood stereotype of barroom brawlers.

No group is monolithic or homogeneous, and that includes motorcycle riders.

Hayden said...

When I go out in the weekends to ride my recumbent trike through the hills and country roads - which is always an oddity among a sea of weekend cyclists on their polished carbon upright bikes, especially since I'm turtle-slow, and everyone else whizzes by - Harley folks who go driving around in groups always wave at me and give me a thumbs up. :D

I get the sense that they tend to root for the oddball or the little guy, and whether or not that's because they themselves constantly get tagged with all kinds of stereotypes that hurt their image, I can't say, but it's possible. Or they take a great deal of pride in going against the currents and value individuality.

I love seeing them on the roads, though. They're such a colorful and interesting group, stereotype or no.

Jin said...

Oh shoot. Nvm. I didn't see this.

Anne E. Johnson said...

Thanks for an important lesson about stereotypes. We all have to search within ourselves constantly to shake them off, since they can be hard to recognize.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Wow. I did NOT see that coming!

This is a great reminder not to view people with the one-dimensional lens that we usually use when we look at the world. Every person is an individual; every person has someone dear to them; every person has something that they believe in. Bikers included.

Thanks, Lee.

Anonymous said...

Back when I was in college - a cute, bubbly young female, I'm told - some of my guy friends took me to a party where I met some bikers. Real bikers, that belonged to a biker group, and although I completely did not fit in, it was one of the best nights I've had in my life because of how awesome I was treated by those guys. To this day I have warm, fuzzy feelings for those memories. I ended up becoming friends with a couple of those "biker dudes". They had a code they were passionate about. They treated me like a lady and a friend and the one or two biker guys that I ever had a problem with, they took care of. I had a lot of male attention in college and it was never for "friendship" and it wasn't often I was ever treated like a lady by those college guys. I never, ever felt threatened and I always loved hanging out with them and their girlfriends and wives, or just with them, or even just going to the local biker bar and shooting pool with them all night. You find good people in places you never think to expect them. You get those stereotypes shattered, too.

To this day I still remember those days very fondly. They were just decent, hardworking, easy-going people who believed in keeping your pack close and safe. I felt honored to be among them because it was something pretty cool to see a bunch of burly, tough guys in leather apparently holding true to a code that demanded they treat people with respect and dignity. Not all people live by a code, and all bikers are people, so there are always going to be bad apples and jerks in there. But by and large, that kind of code, if it's on a wallet card or unspoken, is pretty special.