Principles Before Personalities and Power

If you have been reading my posts for any amount of time, you know I focus on individual growth. This post is no different. Although I will touch on some politics, the goal is really to be focused on our individual choices and truth. It is time to look at yourself. Do you have the courage to stand up for your beliefs? Can you put your principles before personalities and power?

The idea of having the courage to stand in our truth was shown very clearly in a PBS Frontline interview with Adam Kinzinger. About four minutes into the interview, Adam expressed how he saw his colleagues being more concern about being kicked out of their social circle, versus standing up for their principles and truth. It reminded me about a time when I was a member of a marina. A group of us would socialize all weekend together. Truth is though that one person, a braggadocious narcissistic misogynist, would call all the shots. No matter what he said or did, he was right. No matter what others wanted to do, they would do his will instead. I didn’t understand it. When I refused to feed his ego or do his bidding, I was ostracized by the group. And I was ok with that. I did not want to be part of a group that could so willingly give up their truth to coddle a dictator. Adam Grant said, “When you follow a leader, consider what would lead you to withdraw your support. If the answer is nothing, your integrity is in jeopardy. Your highest loyalty belongs to principles, not people.”

As with the marina, some people swallow their truth and spout the party line so they can be included and not rejected. Other people do it for their own personal gain. Back in the day, I made many of my new coworkers upset with me. I was hired in the fall and had to sign an ethical standards agreement for the company. One tenet was we were not to receive any vendor gifts above a certain amount. A few months later, a vendor gave me an expensive holiday gift. I reported it. My colleagues had not. In fact, they had been receiving such gifts for many years. They were not pleased with me. To this day, I stand by my choice to put principles above personal gain. Others had chosen to put their personal gain over agreed upon principles.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

It is not only our personal integrity that is in jeopardy when we put personalities or power above principles, but systems and organizations are at risk as well. One of the things I respect about 12 Step groups are their traditions which outline how groups should be run. The twelfth tradition states, “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” Anonymity as used here, refers to humility and being right-sized, so this tradition is about minimizing the self for the principles and good of the whole. When a single personality becomes more important than the entire group and what that group gathered to achieve, the group is in jeopardy.

As you go about your day, notice when you are putting group opinion above truth, notice when you are turning over your power to an individual instead of adhering to principles, and notice when you are putting your own personal gain or desire for safety above the good of the group. Can you have the courage to put principles above personalities and power?

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