Principle Centered Life

A paradigm is like a map. It is the interpretation of a place, it is not the place. Our paradigms are how we see things, our perspective on any given situation is a result of the paradigm we used to see the situation. Stephen Covey said, “We must examine the lens through which we see the world as well as at the world we see, the lens [through which we look] is how we interpret the world we see.” This means, to me, that it is more important to understand why we see what see than to understand what we see. The lens is the paradigm. To change our world, we must first change how see it.

Continuing the map analogy, if we have the wrong map we will never get where we want to be. Covey used the example of standing in Chicago with a map of New York City. The map of NYC may be accurate, but it has no relevance to Chicago so will not help us find anything in Chicago. So first, we must determine how we see the situation to determine if we have the correct map. The more aware we are of our paradigms the better equipped we are to take responsibility for our lives. In other words, we must know what experiences we have allowed to shape our lens so that we can compare that to universal principles.

Natural laws govern human effectiveness, they are absolute, fundamental and unchanging. Covey describes it this way: “It is impossible to break the [natural] laws; we can only break ourselves against the law.” This tells me that if I am trying to live outside of the natural laws my life will be broken, unproductive, and/or frustratingly unsuccessful. Our paradigms are a subjective reality that we use to describe objective reality – principles are the objective reality.

Principles are not practices or values. Practices are situationally specific. Paradigms are not values; values can and do change with experience. Principles are hard wired, universally true. Unchanging, fundamental truth. Going back to the map analogy, principles are the territory that the map is describing.

The Nine Noble Virtues are a set of principles to compare our paradigms against. While the 9NV are not an exhaustive list of all the principles I believe that any principle will fit into one of the 9NV. If I come across a principle not already covered by the 9NV I will add this principle. If I find that a principle fits more than one virtue, then that principle should replace both virtues.

If we align our paradigms with the 9NV our map will be accurate (we will at least be in the city that matches our map). Let’s examine the 9NV as they relate to the study of the 7 Habits:

  1. Truth (Wisdom)

You don’t know what you don’t know.

This virtue is our yard stick when we examine the lens through which we see the world. This virtue governs the seeking of truth in the myriad of information presented to us from all directions in the information age we find now find ourselves. When we have access to the breadth of the world’s knowledge in the palm of our hands yet have very little facts being shared. When everyone is telling us their opinion of the facts without giving the facts. We must know where the truth is and how to discern it. This applies to all information and should not be limited to the mundane but applied to the spiritual as well.

  1. Courage

Do it anyway.

This virtue is our strength to act on the truth and not succumb to the trending ignorance (willful ignorance in many cases) that is prevalent in our society. The strength to do the right thing even when the consequences of doing the right thing are not beneficial. Yes, courage also is the act of doing the right the thing even when we fear the consequences. It is not the absence of fear, it is the action despite fear.

  1. Fidelity (Loyalty)

Stay the course.

This virtue has many interpretations. In comparing it to the 7 habits, I see this virtue as being loyal to the principled center. Staying the course and always examining, measuring, the results back to the principles, the 9NV. Also, this virtue helps us to determine priorities. To assign the hierarchy of importance and to remain in align with those priorities.

  1. Hospitality (Generosity)

Its not only about you.

This virtue tells us not to be self-centered. When we live a principle centered life we are more connected to the whole. That connection to the whole lets us know that we are not an island but a part of a greater continent.

  1. Discipline (Self-control)

No excuses.

Discipline is needed to stay in the principled centered life. We should strive to live a life that would not require us to ask forgiveness of anyone. Being disciplined to always do the right thing every time. Of course, we are human, and we are not perfect, but we should work towards that perfection anyway.

  1. Industriousness (Work/Perseverance)

Never quit.

We are not owed anything that we have not earned. If we do not put in the work; if we do not pay the price, we will never develop the mastery required of any of this. If we aren’t doing things, making mistakes, we will never learn anything. Nelson Mandela said “I never lose. I win, or I learn.”

  1. Self-reliance (Strength)

If it is to be it is up to me.

We make our choices, whether we are aware or not we have a choice in everything in our live. No, we don’t have any choice in what happens TO us. We do have the choice in how we respond to that stimuli. We can choose to be proactive in those choices or we can be victims – either way we choose. No one has any control of how we think, how we respond, to anything. We must make conscious decisions.

  1. Frith and Grith

Don’t worry, be happy.

The attitude with which we face life determines the results we get from life. You reap what you sow. Being miserable, always seeing the negative, will bring negativity into your life. Bad things will still happen, sad times will still exist, but a positive attitude will help to get us through those times and to see the good in all things. If we believe that everything happens for a reason and understand that we are not always meant to understand that reason life is easier to deal with.

  1. Honor

Actions out weight words.

“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you are saying” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Your character is not what you tell people you are but what you show them through your actions. Honor is acting with integrity in living a principle centered life. It is not an act, it is not something that we can pretend to have for very long. We don’t get to decide if we are honorable or not. Those around us determines this. Honor is the command of respect – not the demand of respect don’t read that wrong. When we do the right things for the right reasons and respect those deserving of respect, we are we are living with honor.

A common misunderstanding is that principles, any or all of them, are subjective. They are not. The value of the principle may vary, but we do not define principles. They define us. Align your paradigms to the correct principles.

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