Timeless Principles

Timeless Principles Are Like A Compass.

Abraham Lincoln said, “important principles may, and must, be inflexible.” In other words, they are timeless. Like a compass, these principles lead us in the right direction. I recently started reading Stephen Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” To quote are quotable president, “it’s a really, really great book”. One point from the book that has resonated with me is Covey’s identification of the problem with a lot of personal management advice—most advice focuses on simple, quick-fix solutions.

Timeless principles lead us in the right direction.

From the book:

People are intrigued when they see good things happening in the lives of individuals, families, and organizations that are based on solid principles. They admire such personal strength and maturity, such family unity and teamwork, such adaptive synergistic organizational culture.

 

And their immediate request is very revealing of their basic paradigm. “How do you do it? Teach me the techniques.”

 

What people really are trying to ask, says Covey, is “what is the shortcut to your success?” The problem isn’t that we lack the desire to change or better ourselves. The problem lies in how we see the problem…or at least how we see ourselves solving the problem. In real life, success takes disciplined hard work. And the band-aid approach to solving our problems doesn’t stand the test of time. We are all guilty of this way of thinking. Just think back on the last time you went on a juice diet and how long that lasted.

 

I’m a big fan of attacking the problem right away (whatever it is)…getting in there and solving it as fast as I can. But, admittedly, I too am often asking if there isn’t an easier way. However, at the end of the day, we all know the answer. Personally, I could afford to lose about 15 pounds and that means I can’t just eat whatever I want, whenever I want and sleep in instead of working out in the morning. I have to actually look inwards and decide to make specific changes about how I conduct my day to day operation. Another goal of mine is to pay off my student loans, and that means putting off buying expensive toys and other wants. How often do we hear of people complaining about student debt and other debt that no one forced upon them? Nobody forced you to go to a liberal arts school in New York and get into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for an art degree. The point is, we typically know what the solution requires but we aren’t willing to do the hard work. Thomas S. Monson once said, “hard work wins when wishy-washy wishing won’t!” Try saying that ten times as fast as you can.

 

For my legal clients, prospective clients and friends, remember that we all reap what we sow. If you want to reap good things, sow good seed. That means work hard, be honest, be a problem solver, stop looking for short-cuts, and start looking for ways to be of service to others.

 

I had a client in a heavily contested estate matter who was just being terribly slandered by his own family members. The accusations were all over the place and way below the belt. It seemed that the other side thought that by making all of these irrelevant and uncalled for accusations that the judge would somehow find in their favor. This tactic was their “quick fix” solution to the problem. However, instead of arguing the merits of their legal claim, they simply attacked my client personally. I believe these types of attack are called ad hominem attacks. Gratefully, before we even made a response to the other side’s accusations, my client and I came to the conclusion that we would not even go to that level. Our plan: we would avoid the negativity and keep the proceeding as civil as possible. I’m grateful to have clients and know people that don’t respond “tooth for tooth.” It is a pleasure to work with these types of people.

 

Understandably there are times where you have to defend your name and fight tooth and nail over an issue, but most often a little civility and open-mindedness can resolve a lot of the problems we face. I remember my contracts professor would always remind us that most legal disputes can be avoided and she’d always say, “just don’t be a jerk.”

 

What are some of the timeless principles that you live by? Let me know.

 

-Jim