“Principle-Centred Living is not an end in itself. It’s the MEANS and the end. It’s the quality of our travel along life’s road. It’s the power and peace we experience each day as we accomplish what matters most.” Stephen R Covey
Do you live your life wholly in accordance with what you know to be true? Are you complying with the rules set by society, by yourself, or by principles? Is there an overlap between your rules and those principles you know to be true? I hope so.
None of us is perfect. Covey also wrote, “I believe that as human beings we cannot perfect ourselves.” I take that to mean that we have a duty, even a desire to continue to strive towards perfection but recognise that our limited knowledge, capabilities and experiences restrict us. We see perfection and often think we are nearly there – then we discover a new, better way to which we can aspire. We never get ‘there’ because we keep discovering that ‘there’ is a bit further away, yet again. That’s part of the beauty of existence, and is a constant.
(Spoiled only by the blame culture that instead of acknowledging that we are learning, takes any ‘failure’ to know in advance what could be done better as proof of conscious, deliberate incompetence. Which it isn’t. Now, back to the plot.)
But if you don’t know what ‘the’ rules are, how can you keep to them? We know the principles. They are extrinsic, they exist outside of us, are always true and always were. Our conscience tells us when we try and work in a way that spites them.
But our rules? Some never set them. They have them but they’ve been set by their upbringing and social mirror. They aren’t consciously held and can change or be broken in the moment subject to societal change and relationship issues. Some people have them and are diligent and compliant all of the time. I envy their strength.
But many are like me. They set their rules (values, Unifying Principles, codes of conduct – the term matters not), and then try, try and try again to keep to them. We occasionally fail but realise we have done so and try again. But at least, having set them, we can strive for that ‘perfection’ until we recognise a better way. Those who don’t have them can never reach ‘perfection’ because they don’t know what it looks like. In fact, because they don’t know what they are they wander aimlessly about, wondering why their lives aren’t what they want them to actually be.
That’s why I maintain that identifying a set of values* is a better way to live, and again encourage the reader to spend some time identifying their own rules and principles, the guidelines for their behaviour and future success.
Because if you know what your rules are, then provided they are aligned with principles (like truth, fidelity, honesty and integrity), complying with them will bring you peace.
Happy New Principled, successful, values-driven 2015, everybody!