Principle versus Personality – Emotional Pro

May 15th, 2006

Your telephone records: are they personal or private? Has our President acted legally or illegally in obtaining millions of phone call records since 9/11 without a court order? Today’s news is full of the debate about “legal” or “illegal” regarding phone records, wiretapping and countless other issues. Politicians from both parties are up in arms about invasion of privacy and the violation of one of America’s “sacred” rights–the right to privacy.
Frankly, I think our press is debating the wrong issue! The real “lesson” for us Americans involves “principle vs personality;” and this is what we should be debating in our public and private forums.
A dear and wise friend, Kay Hammell, introduced me to the concept of “personality vs principle” nearly 20 years ago. Since learning about the differences, I have lived by Principle to the best of my ability, and taught the concept and practice to thousands of others, all with beneficial results.
Most people live by “personality.” We make exceptions in our dealings with others “because you’re my sister,” “because you are a long-term friend,” “because you did something nice for me,” “because I feel guilty if I don’t,” or “because of this specific situation that requires an exception.” In other words, we interact with people on the basis of our personal connection and rationale, making a different decision to fit each person and situation.
Mother Nature, on the other hand, lives according to Principle. If you are walking in the woods and stop to rest under a big tree with a very tired old limb, Mother Nature doesn’t say “Oh, it’s YOU! I won’t allow the tree to drop its limb on YOU! You’re special to us!” Instead, if you are there and the limb is dropping that day, it will drop on you. Principle. What is done for one is done for all.
And that’s the way you tell whether you are operating from Principle or Personality. Ask yourself: “Am I willing to do this for everyone who asks me?” If the answer is “no,” and you take the action anyway, you are operating in Personality. If the answer is “yes,” then go ahead–you’re operating in Principle.
Someone close to me, a professional, offered a service to other professionals. She had clear contracts, got paid before performing the service, and generally had smooth relationships with the other professionals with whom she dealt. EXCEPT for one man, with whom she had nothing but problems! When this person raised her rates, the man called her and berated her for raising her rates, bordering on abuse by putting down her abilities and qualifications, and attempting to shame her into backing down from the new rates. When I was consulted, I discovered that “because this man was the one who gave me my first opportunity in this business,” she operated according to personality, not principle, having no written contracts, collecting money after the fact, and even charging a lower rate than that charged to all other professionals! “You’ll have trouble with this person until you get yourself into Principle,” I advised. “It’s a guarantee.” For nearly two years, this person brought herself more and more into Principle, yet continued to have difficulties because she had not gone fully into Principle. When, at last, she decided “I’m going to stay in Principle—no more special dispensations because of the role this man played in my life,” she discovered there was no reason to do business with this individual at all, having made many attempts to put things on a more principled basis between them and getting no cooperation. She took the plunge and “divorced” this man (on a business level). Several months later, she reported that she had no idea how much of her time and energy had been taken up by dealing with this man, and how much more time (and more success) she was having now that she was free of this constant energy drain.
The MORE we operate in harmony with Mother Nature, the better our lives work. Try this experiment. For the next three months (or weeks if that seems too long to you), before you take any action in relation to another person (people), ask yourself “Am I willing to do this for everyone who asks [needs, wants, etc.]?” If you get a “no,” then don’t take the action. Put yourself in harmony with Principle; and put your life on the fast track to joy and harmony itself.
And by the way, as you work with this concept in your everyday life, you will see that there are some catchy little concerns in applying it. Write me when you encounter them!

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