you can always find an excuse to not stand up for your principles

trump-principles-choices-life

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“You can always find an excuse to not stand up for your principles.

But if you don’t risk anything, it doesn’t matter as much.”

 

—-

Jeff Flake

 

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“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour … If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”

 

Charlotte Brontë

 

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“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principals which direct them.”

 

 Napoleon Bonaparte

 

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Well.

 

While I am not so sure Life really offers us nonstop, limitless opportunities to move Bad outexecuting Chaos_to_structureforward and make progress toward things we want or like <albeit it does offer us a lot> … what it does do is offer us a relentlessly tantalizing smorgasbord of opportunities to take the easy way out, appealing short cuts and opportunities to circumvent rules & regulations <while no one is looking>.

 

My point is that Life pretty much says “there is always an easier way and choice if you are willing to set aside your principles just this one time.”

 

And Life relentlessly whispers this in your ear … moment … after … moment. Relentlessly.

 

I mention this to everyone because if Life really does this moment after moment <and it really does>, you would be tempted to find an excuse to not stand up for your principles on occasion.

 

Ah.

 

“On occasion.”

 

That sounds so … well … harmless. It was back in September 2010 I wrote “slippery slopes & “just once where I said this:

 

It is incredibly easy to compromise … in business and in life.

 

“Just this once” you say to yourself when you are tired. Whatever the decision or action we are discussing, to you, in the moment … it is mentally “an exception”.

 

And before you know it <after some “just this onces“> you have edged on to that slippery slope.

 

 

slippery-slope 1

I think the most interesting thing to think about is this whole idea of principles and slippery slopes. It is interesting because most people think of principles a steadfast, unshakeable and solid. We never think of them as slippery.  And, yet, seemingly harmless momentary exceptions are actually extremely harmful moments in which each exception makes the next exception even easier to do.

 

In other words. You end up finding an easy excuse to not stand up for your principles.

 

Part of the problem is that the whole concept of principles has become an incredibly twisted concept in today’s world. In fact, “principles”, in today’s world, can often get placed in that heinous slot with ‘political correctness.’

 

What I mean by that is the meaning of the word, and phrase, has been subverted into a negative space from its intended space which is, and should be, a positive one.

 

It seems odd but principles and principled actions are a tricky topic.

 

Tricky in that while a principles ‘are statements denoting fact or generality which are universally or widely considered to be true and fundamental’ they, in fact, have a great range of meaning. While ‘principles’ most often refers to the elementary, or fundamental, basic proposition of some system or of conduct, it can also be tied to some specific designation, i.e., religion, government, business, education, etc.

 

It would be much nicer if we actually referred to ‘principled behavior’ as an axiom. While axiom is a derivative of ‘principle’ it is more tightly tied to ‘one agreed upon as the basis of truth … a truth so self evident as to be indisputable’.

 

Principles, in theory, are an axiom … unfortunately, in practice; they are more a theorem <a proposition>. I offer this philosophical mumbo jumbo to make the point that principles is a trickier topic an idea than one would think.

 

I do believe the internet has made this topic trickier in that civil discourse has devolved to such a state that if you were to offer your ‘principles’ to an audience there will inevitably be a negative nasty, and often cruel, backlash suggesting that what you would consider principles are … well … bad.

 

people ideas think open minds

Principles fall into the horrible trap of “small minds discuss people; average minds discuss events; great minds discuss ideas.” And, yeah, the deterioration of discourse in general aids Life in whispering in your ear that maybe, just maybe, just this once you should find an excuse to not stand up for your principles. This often happens in a twisted way in which we focus labels of “evil thinking” toward  people who do not think like us, or have similar principles, which then seems to provide an open license to anyone who wants to vent  with extreme behavior.

 

I make that point because … well … all of this makes the momenst you really do find an excuse to not stand up for your principles extremely important.  They are important because your principles are your means of integrating what you know, knowledge, and what you feel <moral> which enables you to assess value of individual decisions and choices. In other words … the value assessment provides the signpost for doing what is right or doing what is wrong.

 

 In other words … your principles are applied to Life to organize and control the path of your Life <and as a larger sense … of society>.

 

In other words … principles affect all systems of law in effect today and, in effect, provide us with the signposts for guidance even above the law.

 

In other words … principles permit you to focus on what is in my best interest without doing so at the expense of the best interest of society as a whole.indeed yes agree principles omar

 

 

Yeah.

 

All that sounds good.

 

But if you have some strong principles you will inevitably worry that if you live by your principles … doing what you believe is right and the right thing to do … in what you perceive is a ‘dog eat dog’ world … you will get chewed up.

 

You worry that doing the right thing and having principles will actually hinder them in their journey toward their ambition.

 

Think about what I just wrote.

 

I suggest you do so because we older folk spend a shitload of time ranting about the altruism focus of the young … that they want to ‘do good’ but don’t want to ‘do work.’

We are missing the point.

In fact … we may be missing something we should be paying attention to.

 

Most of these kids simply don’t want to compromise their principles. They are not being dreamers nor are they being Pollyannaish with a perspective to the world … in fact … they are possibly seeing the world better than we old folk are.

 

They want to work.

 

They want to run businesses.

 

They want to be productive and be part of some company where they can be part of a them doing and making something.

 

They just don’t want to compromise their principles.

 

I use the young to make an example but everyone walks this line.

 

The line?

cats cradle tug of war complex intricate

Your good gets tugged toward the side of bad.

 

And, yes, the bad gets tugged toward the side of good.

 

Anyway.

 

This was a semi-sad post for me to write.

 

Sad in that it seems like we have forgotten the power of principles … and I sometimes think we believe the system is driving our behavior, and our selective stance with regard to our principles in the moment,  and success.

 

Sad in that I think we forget the system shouldn’t dictate our use of principles, nor should Life, but rather it is the people who build and make up the system and, therefore, they dictate the definition of principled behavior.

 

Sad in that I think sometimes we older folk appear to cynically view the system as ‘it is what it is … deal with it … do what you need to do … or you will lose.’

 

Sad that the younger people view the system as ‘it is what it is … I don’t like it … I will not compromise’ … and they are electing to try and avoid it … and many of us older folk are ignoring them as naïve.

 

Sad in that … well … how is any of this I just noted, in any way, a successful formula for the future?

 

Look.

 

Life makes dealing with your principles a constant struggle.

 

The real point is that you can fulfill your ambition & maintain your principles … you just have to decide to not find an excuse to not stand up for your principles.

 

To be clear … we can all find an excuse to not stand up for our principles.

To be clear … we can actually stand up for our principles and still sometimes find we are standing up for the wrong things and in the wrong way.

To be clear … this will not be a one-time choice. It will be an ongoing calculation throughout your entire Life, a decision that must be revisited repeatedly, week after week, moment after moment as new decisions unfold.

 

I say that because in business … even if you gaze into the ‘principle crystal ball’ … principle-decisions-madeit is never a one time choice nor is it an unchanging choice. Business is ever changing and the leaders of a business are constantly being challenged and responding in an ever changing way in which your principles are tested in a variety of sometimes seeminly innocuous ways.

 

Business has a nasty habit of challenging a leader’s character almost more than it does his/her skills.

 

Business has a nasty habit of challenging your own character almost more than it does your skills.

 

Therefore … principles and principled behavior needs to constantly be assessed … and judged. Therefore … events demand to be met head on.

 

In the end, all I can do is leave you with one thought — I am not sure there is a worse feeling than looking back and wishing you had been more principled. Period.

 

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“Do you admire men of principle?

 

That would depend, I suppose, upon what set of principles you’re speaking of.”

 

Well.

Don’t you find that principles inject an almost moribund inflexibility in the people who subscribe to them?”

 –

The Hollow Men

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Written by Bruce