My four non-negotiable rules

Via Creative Commons

Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. C.S. Lewis

A while back, I was facing a difficult decision. The details aren’t particularly important. It was the kind of decision where there’s not an immediately apparent right or wrong.

After a sleepless night, I knew that I had to figure things out. I gave myself some quiet time and pondered, “What are the fundamental principles that apply?”

I decided that for me to be able to live in peace with myself, I would need to act in accordance with four deeply held rules for my behavior:

  1. I cannot compromise my integrity. To me, this means keeping my word and living according to my beliefs. Sometimes our integrity shows up publicly to others, but often only we know if we’ve compromised ourselves.
  2. I must be completely honest. It is so easy to fudge the truth. Ironically, the better your reputation, the easier it is to lie because you have a track record of telling the truth. It only takes one untruth, though, to send you off-course.
  3. Always, people before things. If you’re looking for the best answer, doing what’s right for another human should take precedence over some material object.
  4. Never be a victim. Portraying yourself as a victim in order to manipulate others or justify your actions will lead you in the opposite direction from accountability.

Thinking through what really matters and what kind of person I want to be helped me determine what I needed to do. We all have a true north, an inner sense of where to go in times of uncertainly. Articulating the rules we want to live by gives us the map we need to follow to get to the true north.

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