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Exploring Values by Keith E. Webb

Jun 27th, 2010 | By | Category: Missions Coaching

In Florence, Italy I walked down narrow, cobble-stoned lanes, lined with centuries-old buildings looking for a famous stationary shop at Via Toscanella 29.

On Via Toscanella I found #29. I stood right in front of it: an antique picture shop, not a stationary shop. Looking back at the number on the building I noticed another number, #11. A bit further down I saw #31 and #13. I followed the lower numbers, which led me to another #29 and the shop I wanted.

In Florence, it turns out, they use two sets of building numbers – one for businesses and one for residences, however, these days many residences are now businesses.

One person will tell you Via Toscanella 29 is a picture shop and other says it’s a stationary shop, who’s correct? Both could dogmatically tell you they are correct. Actually, they are both correct and incorrect – it depends on which address system we use.

This journey serves as a reminder that there are many ways to view the world.

Everyone structures and navigates life according to his or her own internal “numbering system”: the values, beliefs, and experiences that shape how we view the world.

Cultures are unique “numbering systems” formed by the collective values, beliefs, and experiences of a group.

For the people of Florence, it made sense – at one point in time, anyway! – to use two numbering systems for addresses. If you grew up in Florence that system is just the way it is. Outsiders, are confused by it.

You can assist people to powerful new awareness by helping them examine their values, beliefs, and experiences. Help them discover how these things are influencing their situation. Help them to understand the other person’s motivations through examining their values and beliefs.


  • What meaning does that action have for you? How do you think others view it?
  • What are you trying to achieve? What would achieving that do for you?
  • What motivates you to do it this way as opposed to some other way? What importance does that have for you?

——-Join the dialogue and leave your comments below——-

Dr. Keith E. Webb is a cross-cultural leadership coach helping organizations, teams, and individuals multiply their cross-cultural impact. Keith has lived in Asia for 20 years. He developed the 60-hour Core Coaching Skills Certificate Program and offers a free monthly newsletter with articles like this one.
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