15 Principles to Live By
Do you have a set of rules, principles or guidelines you try to live by?
I've always said,
Stand for something or you'll fall for anything
For the most part, that bit of advice has served me well over the past thirty years.
While it's important to have a mission for your life and a road map for the future you want to have, it's even more valuable to have a set of principles to live by and guide you along the way.
Plans and goals get updated, changed and pushed back, but principles will guide your every waking moment.
I'm a big believer in introspection, the act of looking at our inner-selves. One of the ways we really learn who we are as individuals is to do some self-examination and figure out what we're made of.
Over the past week or so, I've spent some time thinking about the principles I try to live by. While I'm nowhere near perfect, I want to share the 15 principles I try to live by every day.
My hope is we can have a common connection, or I can help you determine the principles you have in your life. While I fail frequently, here is my list.
15 Principles to Live By
Treat others the way you want to be treated – The golden rule. Nothing new here except for a renewed reason to live it. Even during rush hour. Show people how to help you by helping them in the way you want to be helped.
Stick up for the little guy – I've been the “little guy” several times in my life. Have you? Besides being the right thing to do, sticking up for the little guy shows wisdom – sometimes the little guy becomes the big guy, and it's good to have friends.
Spend less money than you make – Debt sucks the life out of you, your family and your business. If you can't afford it, don't buy it.
The borrower is slave to the lender – Proverbs 22:7.
That bit of wisdom is as true today as it was over 2000 years ago when Solomon first wrote it.
Help people when they need it, not when it's convenient for you – It really bugs me is when I see people only offering to help when it's convenient for them. Sure, offering help at those times is great, but we can do better. Help people in their time of need. Remember, cars don't break down unless you have somewhere to be.
Listen more than you speak – If I'm dominating conversations it's probably time to shut my mouth. Not only will people start leaving a room when I walk in, but I'll start losing friends. Anyone can talk, but listening is a talent.
It's better to say nothing and have people think you're stupid, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Don't hog the credit. Be a team player – No one likes a ball-hog. Share the work and share the glory. Nothing great has ever been achieved by a single person acting alone, so I need to remember who to thank along the way. Every time I thought I could go it alone I fell short. Every time I enlist the help of others, I get further faster.
Be thankful – I always try to thank everyone for every bit of assistance I get along the way. People who receive gratitude are more willing to help again. People who give gratitude will be more likely to receive help again. The people we need in our corner will be drawn to us if we show an attitude of gratitude and say “thank you” at least as often as we say “please.”
Set priorities – Priorities aren't just for tasks anymore. Prioritize meetings, contacts, and even goals. By setting priorities, I don't have to debate myself whenever I hit a roadblock or have an unexpected stumble. By having a clear list of priorities, if one gets put on hold, I know exactly what to pick up next.
Know what you will and will not stand for – One of my favorite sayings is,
Stand for something or fall for anything.
Know where you draw the line. Know how far is too far. We'll have more self-confidence and self-respect if we know how far is too far. Taking a stance on something takes guts; it opens us up for ridicule. Standing for something also builds character.
Give people the benefit of the doubt – I used to judge quickly. Then I learned that first impressions aren't always accurate. We'll have more fun in life, make more friends, enjoy more success and share in more happiness if we learn to give people the benefit of the doubt. Expect greatness and you'll begin to see it all over.
Don't waste time with people who bring you down – When I started my online business I adopted this as my personal motto:
You can't make a positive change with a negative attitude.
Everyone who is on my email list (get on it here) learns about my motto shortly after joining me. No one likes to be around a negative person. If we want to be successful, we need to avoid negative people like the plague. We can have bad days, but there no excuse for having a bad decade.
Be intentional with everything you do – Wandering aimlessly will lead you nowhere. Every day I try to wake up with a purpose and a goal. If we have a list of things to achieve, we have something to look forward to. If you've made a list of your priorities, living with intention will be much easier.
Know when to shut up – There have been times in my life when I suffered from a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease. Just as important as listening more than we talk is knowing when to be quiet. Whether you're negotiating or joining a conversation, it's probably better to stop talking. It's not even that we're talking too much; sometimes it's just time to let everyone else have their turn.
Know how and when to relax – If we don't relax and take time off we'll burn out. Our bodies aren't meant to work 24/7; we need breaks. Our brains need time to analyze everything our senses have taken in and our bodies need time to recuperate. If you love what you do, taking time off can seem like a waste of time. However, getting out in the world will give our creativity a needed boost.
Do what you say you will do – I saved the best for last! Do what you say you will do, or DWYSYWD, is one of the key measurements I use to determine who gets my time. Our time is limited. It is finite. We cannot buy more, save more, or borrow more. If I tell you I'll do something, my word is my commitment. When I break my word, and it happens, I feel awful. One way I keep my word is by doing this.
Plans change and mission statement rarely work in the real world. Principles are larger than life. They're a part of how we view the world and live our life.
As challenges and obstacles come at you, having a set of written principles to live by will help you make decisions and trust your gut.
Your principles will guide you and give you clarity. They'll give you both peace and strength. Your principles will let you be free while keeping you focused and grounded.
What is one of the principles you live by?