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Core Principles - Performance with Honour

in Core Principles

I have always considered myself to have a pretty well developed sense of right and wrong, but perhaps what I didn’t realise was that actually I had a strong set of core principles, and my sense of right and wrong was merely a top-level interpretation of whether something was in line with, or in opposition to, one of those principles. Doing the right thing felt good - doing the wrong thing always left me feeling frustrated, angry or unhappy, usually with myself.

I’m not sure how I came to formally list out my core principles - I think I was just playing with a thought in my journal, wrote out a draft list, and then they evolved over time - but I do remember the first one to appear in a tangible statement….

Performance with Honour

There were plenty of things that made me unhappy with corporate life, but one feeling that seemed to be getting stronger was that success and the ‘end result’ seemed to justify increasingly dubious means of achievement. In the industry I served, more and more people seemed comfortable with half-truths, misdirection and, in some cases, out and out lies - what’s more, employees were becoming little more than cells in a spreadsheet, able to be cut, copied and pasted without any feeling for the person behind the role.

The problem with working in that sort of toxic marketplace is that, over time, it starts to rub-off - slowly but surely, I felt like I was inching out the boundaries of what was acceptable - always telling the truth seemed to be slowly replaced by spinning the situation; I never out-and-out lied, but the times when I was economical with the facts seemed to be increasing.

I should clarify - I’m not saying that I think that the only way you can succeed in the corporate world is by being dishonourable - I met many genuine, honourable people in my career - I’m just saying that I saw a trend towards the dishonourable, both in myself and others, and I chose to get out before I started to behave in ways that I knew weren’t right. Others are probably stronger than me, and 20 years in one industry can, I think, lead to a cynicism that things are worse than they actually are, but I just knew that I had to return to a way of working that was more in line with my sense of right and wrong.

And then one day, speaking to an experienced coach, I started talking about how I wanted to leave the corporate world behind and build my own business. I was happy to put in the hard work, and I wanted to always operate with honesty and integrity, and I summarised my feelings with the phrase ‘Performance with Honour’, and the first of my core principles was born.

So - what does Performance with Honour actually mean ? Well, to me it means working very hard to achieve challenging goals, and always being truthful and honest when dealing with other people. It means never taking shortcuts to avoid difficult situations, and never dealing in half-truths, spun facts or little white lies.

These days I’m happy that I manage myself, and my business, very much in line with with this principle, even when being honourable ends up costing me financially….

And does Performance with Honour make things more difficult ? No - not really.… Being truthful can sometimes lead to awkward conversations, but at the same time, always telling the truth means that you never have to remember what you said to one person versus another because all you have to remember are the facts. I’m still not perfect - sometimes it takes me a bit longer than it should before I do the right thing, and I might avoid the odd confrontation - but it is definitely getting easier, and I know I sleep a whole lot sounder….


My Other Core Principles

Since identifying my first core principle, I have identified 14 more, some of which are quite personal, and others, I believe, should be principles that we all hold. I will be defining each of these core principles over the coming weeks, and I hope that, by sharing my own principles, it will spur you to define your own, because I believe that with a foundation of core principles, achieving a happy and successful life is so much easier…..

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