I do a lot of work with my clients around their personal values and how they take those values to work with them. I don’t think we can spend enough time on values these days as we all begin trying to rebuild what we have lost over the Covid-19 closures. My clients nearly always begin their coaching terms with me, establishing and clarifying for themselves what their values are. Then we do quite a bit of work to determine what they values of their practices are; how they want to do business, be a boss, treat their patients, etc.
But is it enough?
I have come to think that there is a step missing. Our values are important; so are the principles that we incorporate into our work. The difference is subtle but important. Principles are defined as “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour, or for a chain of reasoning”. In other words, a principle gives your values legs so that you can walk them into action. Here’s an example:
Value = Honesty
Principle = Being truthful is always the best way, or never take what’s not yours.
Practice = Telling the truth or never stealing or cheating.
Do you hear the difference? The principle is a statement to live by. It moves your value into practice. I am beginning to think that once a value is established, the really hard work is giving it those legs and establishing the principle that supports it. Only then can you really describe ways that you will practice that value. Here’s another example:
Value = Integrity
Principle = The right thing to do is always the right thing.
Practice = Choosing to do the right whenever the situation arises.
Now, more than ever, our values matter. They will sustain us as we put our heads down and rebuild. Give your values legs by defining the underlying principles that will give your values legs and enable you to live by them. At a time when we all feel a little overwhelmed, our values and their principles will provide a rock solid foundation to build upon.
If you find value in this post or the idea of working on values, principles and how to practice them, please reach out to me.