Are you investing your energy in the principles?

“The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It can be easy to grab hold of a new technique for productivity, a tool for planning, a diet plan, or some other hot process for improvement. Doing these new things might even work for a little while. But are they the best for you? Do you understand the why behind them? Are the principles aligned with your unique situation and environment?

I love to read and learn new things and then figure out how to apply the right components of what I have read to business and life. When I was much younger, I would grab a new tool and run with it as if I owned it; I expected a silver bullet-like impact from whatever new shiny object was now in my hands. However, as I have become more “seasoned,” I have learned that the careful study of principles and then the thoughtful application of appropriate methods is a far more impactful and lasting approach.

Do I get it right all the time? Of course not, but leaning into the contemplation of principles can and will change your selection of tools and methods.  

Why before what. It makes all the difference in the world.  

Do you know why you roar?

“It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.”

Elizabeth Kenny

Do you know what you stand for? Can you roar when you need to? Do you know when you need to roar and when you don’t?

One of my favorite stories in the Bible occurs when Jesus “cleanses the temple of animals and money changers. Scholars debate the precise meaning that we should infer from the narrative. For me, this story represents “righteous anger” and appropriately delivered action based on bedrock principles.

“In the temple courts, he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”” John‬ ‭2:14-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬ 

(If you are interested, you can read the other narratives of the story as reported in Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18, & Luke 19:45-46.)  

I love this story because it conveys the power of knowing what you stand for and enables one to take action when those principles are violated. However, it has to be understood that “turn the other cheek” and “be a peacemaker” are also core teachings. You can’t walk around every day roaring at every little thing. Your actions must mean something.

The key is to know who you are and what you stand for so that you know when to be the lion you were born to be. If you don’t know these things, by default, you will forever be a sheep because your roar won’t mean anything.   

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