People form their core life principles in different ways. Those who believe in the God of the Christian faith hold certain moral and theological principles as taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ. Many adopt their principles from other gods. Still others believe mankind defines such principles through experience and human reasoning.
Another word for principle is “value.” Whatever values people embrace become the foundation of their intentions and actions. People are judged by what they say and do as well as through what they don’t say and don’t do. To the extent that someone is consistent with his values he is judged as faithful; lack of consistency results in the dreaded label “hypocrite.”
“Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if it’s done by nice people like ourselves.” — Author Unknown
“Many a man’s reputation would not know his character if they met on the street.” — Elbert Hubbard
Clarity and commitment are important when it comes to principles. Being unsure or uncommitted to a principle makes decision-making more difficult.
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” — Roy Disney, executive
“Those are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others.” — Groucho Marx
When principles have a moral element the terminology is often changed to “character.” Having good character is defined as “consistently acting in accordance with good moral principles.”
“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” — Norman Schwarzkopf
“The time is always right to do what is right.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Character is an indispensable part of leadership. Making the types of decisions leaders are expected to make is utterly dependent on the leader’s character. Good leadership proceeds from good character. Character is to leadership as hydrogen is to water. How many more ways can I say it? Good character is the foundation of leadership.
Good leaders not only gain followers because of their good character, they also pass on their legacy of good character. The result is a new generation of leaders.
“Let those who follow me continue to build with the plumb of honor, the level of truth, and the square of integrity, education, courtesy and mutuality.” — John Wanamaker
“Children are not casual guests in our home. They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.” — Dr. James C. Dobson
Establishing strong moral character within the foundations of our personal and business relationships results in leaders who make a positive difference in this world. It doesn’t require a Ph.D. in compassion or a Master’s Degree in philanthropy or any special skill. Leadership potential lives within everyone.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” — Anne Frank
What it takes is a personal decision and a commitment to building character, from the inside out. Each decision moves one closer to or farther from the person he’s supposed to become. Decide today whom you will follow. Decide today to feed your mind every day. Decide today not to sacrifice integrity for convenience. Decide to be different so you can make a difference.
“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
© Copyright August 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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