The Six Life Principles I Work Hard to Live By

I have read a great deal of material on personal development & leadership and one of the common themes is living life by a set of personal values or principles. Here I offer six principles that I have learned through these readings and held true in my life. By no means are these for everyone, feel free to share yours as I am interested to hear what works for you as well.

Here are the 6 most important principles I work hard to live by. 
I also have an acronym for them: GETPIQ (Get Peak!)

The Principle of Growth Mindset

The idea here comes from a really good book called, Mindset (a truly recommended read). It lays out that we as humans have two different mindsets when it comes to learning new things; one that believes that talent, success and intelligence is something that is inherent and one that believes that talent is about working hard, focusing on the process, and enjoying the journey. Time and time again, it is proven through leadership, sports and business that truly successful individuals simply have a different mindset and way of seeing problems, challenges, and new opportunities.

Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr) proved to the world that your mindset is your most important asset.

Simply put, living life by the growth mindset is letting go of our ego, embracing failure and mistakes, and understanding that focusing on the process vs. the outcome makes all the difference. We can learn any skill we need with the right effort and understanding of the importance of the journey. Unfortunately, we seem to lose this mindset after our childhood due to many societal forces but I believe it’s key to true, enduring success of any type we seek.

The Principle of Essentialism

There are a few great books on this subject, one of the great ones is aptly named Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. The idea here is quite simple but hard to live by especially in our era. Nonetheless, it seems to be extremely critical in getting to where we want. Similar to the Pareto Principle, it means that we can be more effective with a focus on the less that truly matters. We can produce more value, more quality, more meaning, more productivity, more enjoyment etc. when our time is spent on only that which matters most.

Steve Jobs is famously known for embracing essentialism in creating world-changing innovations

I believe this can be applied to almost every area of life. The key is to approach everything with the mindset of simplicity and clarity about what is absolutely most important and focus on that as much as possible. This first means removing what is keeping us from being able to focus on what matters most. After that, it means amplifying our time and effort towards what makes us happy, more productive, more successful, more wealthy and more of who we truly are.

The Principle of Trust and Integrity

This is one of those principles that is so deep and so important to our relationships. But it’s one that applies to our relationship with ourselves as much as with others. I believe that trust and integrity with ourselves needs to develop within before truly being effective with others. We first must be able to make and keep commitments to ourseleves. Much of the success literature out there neglects this piece that I think is key to mastery.

Rosa Parks was a person of integrity, character and trust in herself as well as others

There are a few great books like, the Inner Game of Tennis that talk about how true professionals are able to master their skills and the ability to perform under extreme pressure and chaotic environments. These players have developed a higher lever of deep trust with themselves and their body’s ability to take over and intuitively do what it needs to do when everything is on the line. This relationship takes deep willingness to understand ourselves and the integrity to work hard towards what we truly want. At the end of the day, we must hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard and be honest about what true success and happiness means to us.

The Principle of Proactive Engagement

This principle to me is most important when applied to our relationship with others. In essence, it is to be engaged and in the moment in all of your activities. When we’re in conversation with others, it is to be actively engaged and listening to them while trying to understand and respond to them in a way that is meaningful. One of the things I try to do is not filter what other are saying through my lens but rather truly listen to their perspective and why they see things the way they do. It is perhaps one of the largest skills one can develop in working with teams and being a leader in any type of organization.

Oprah has risen to fame and success through a proactive attitude and a talk show based on more intimate communication with her guests

Aside from being applicable to relationships, it is very applicable to the way we respond to every challenge, obstacles or opportunities that come our way. A great thought leader on the subject was Stephen R. Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The most powerful aspect of our nature is that we have the power to choose how we will respond to everything around us. It is a principle that best shines in times of hardship or high stress situations. We can let the situation bring us down or we can do something about it and and turn it around to work towards us. Our perspectives usually form a picture of how we see the world but that is only our perspective and may be far from the truth of what it actually is. We must be proactively engaged in how we see the world and how we react to that around us.

The Principle of Intuition

This principle is one that requires a serious ability to listen to ones self. Much has been written on our ability to intuitively know when something is right. And it’s true. For some reason, our gut always knows what’s right. Your mind can sell you out, but your heart (intuitive awareness) never will. Perhaps it is some form of our vast subconscious speaking to us what we cannot see on the surface. I find this principle is most valuablele when applied to making major decisions, especially those related to our happiness and personal fulfillment.

Albert Einstein is said to have called the intuitive mind a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant

However, there is an important skill in being aware in the moment and listening to our intuition on a daily basis. I’ve found myself in several occasions where I’ve felt there is something not right, I ignore it, and then suffer the unwanted consequences. To listen to your intuition, you truly have to be in the moment and to a certain extent be able to trust yourself. This is where all the true opportunities are. Malcolm Gladwell in Blink speaks about how our gut intuition can sometimes be right. However, it is important that we are aware of any personal biases we have when judging our decisions using our gut feelings. This is a skill that must be developed over time.

The Principle of Quality

Last but not least, I like summarizing this principle with a simple sentence; approach your training just as you would your championship. Or with the well known quote by Archilochus “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training”. This principle is perhaps the hardest to follow because it’s one that most of the time no one else ever sees. It’s the one that we must enforce on ourselves when we are in practice (metaphorically or literally). It means that the quality of effort we put in in our every day work and training dictates how well we perform when it truly matters.

Coach Dwayne Casey of the Toronto Raptors attributes much of his team’s success to their dedication to quality and attention to detail during practices. The team was able to reach the eastern conference finals in 2016.

This is most relevant in sports but can be easily be related to our work life. How many times do we do less than quality work only because nobody is watching? Or because we think we can “turn on” our ability to perform and do great work when it is urgently needed. The truth is that the attention to small details and discipline one displays in their every day life matters. This requires be attentive and in the moment in what we do and being proud of producing quality work even if nobody will ever get to see it or appreciate it. That excellence defines our character and who we truly are.

And there your have it. To summarize, the principles are:

GETPIQ (Get Peak!)

The Principle of Growth Mindset
The Principle of Essentialism
The Principle of Trust and Integrity
The Principle of Proactive Engagement
The Principle of Intuition
The Principle of Quality

Let me know your thoughts, comments and ideas below. Interested to hear what works for you in your life. Happy living!