Yesterday I read about the new #BrandNCProject  that the Department of Commerce had launched with UNC’s business school . News of the effort immediately drew mockery  from some those who don’t like the direction the state is going in in comments sections of news articles and on Twitter.
The survey  asks us what words best describe our enduring core values we hold as North Carolinians. The examples include kindness, diversity, loyalty, friendliness, compassion and courage. 
“Enduring core values are basic fundamental principles that guide our individual behavior and both determine and reflect how we think and act toward others,” the survey’s instructions state.
I earnestly tried to answer this survey as a North Carolinian who cares deeply about my state’s future and wants its brand stand out, and as someone who wanted to possibly shape this project’s development.
I tried, but I couldn’t. That’s because I believe holding values and practicing values are two different things. Building, sustaining and practicing “enduring core values” is hard work that is never completed. It takes investment and examination.
Living a principled life is a journey, maybe even a battle. It’s about the sum of our actions.
So maybe we should step back and reflect on some different questions: How are we as North Carolinians living up to our values? Are we on the right path to being the friendly, diverse, compassionate, fair, creative place we aspire to be? If not, how do we get there?
However important a brand might be –and I don’t dispute it is— it just feels like our leaders are again putting appearances first. And that is not an enduring core value I want for my state.