“In Matters of Principle, Stand Like A Rock”

There are times when it’s fine to bow to popular opinion, to say, “Oh, I have my opinions, but however you feel is fine and valid too.”

There are other times where you need to be totally unyielding.

“I’m sorry, I don’t think we’re a good fit for each other”

“I don’t accept affiliates I don’t know, sorry.”

“I won’t do this. It’s against my principles.”

Whatever those principles are, you need to be absolutely rigid in upholding them.

This can be hard, especially if your principles are unpopular. You may, correctly, fear the blow-back from peers and colleagues (Well, we can’t all be Cato!) but as hard as that is to have people resent you and your principles, you will be all the more miserable if you relinquish them.

That’s not to say some things can’t be a matter of taste. 

Joel has told me he will never use pop-ups— he doesn’t appreciate them as a user and he won’t condone them as a business person. I’m a little more lax on that myself, but I will never browbeat people into buying my stuff “for their own good.” Both Joel and I believe that the ends do not justify the means when it comes to client relationships. We’re here to serve, but not I, Robot style.

Discussions on the nature of principles and their enactment in our lives are some of the most fruitful and affirming conversations I have had in recent months.

What do you stand for, and how does that express itself through your actions?


18 thoughts on ““In Matters of Principle, Stand Like A Rock””

  1. What I stand for would be too long of a comment! But, I like this topic. I think we all are exposed to so much advice in real life through friends and family and online and in books, etc, etc…
    Taking a stand can be a struggle for me when I come across people who seem offended when I have a different view than them. Not everyone reacts like that, but I see it a lot online. I’ve also grown up around a lot of black and white thinking and deviating away from one way was always punished. So, that has probably affected the way I express my individuality and principles. I’ve only recently started to take a stronger stand on things.

  2. I’m a sucker for references to the great Stoic philosophers and the origins of a conversation about pop-ups. You have my attention!
    This comment could go a million different ways, but I’ll just take it one of them. When you communicate to someone why you do something or won’t do something they want you to do, you’re always at risk of having the other person think, “Boy, Joel’s a jerk. He thinks he’s better than me and thinks I’m wrong about so-and-so.” And you know what? That’s OK.
    You don’t sit on your principles. You stand on them. And even when you’re not 6’6″ tall like I am, you need to risk hovering over someone when you stand on your principles. You also need to risk admitting when your principles lead you astray and that even the rock changes its shape over the years (e.g. due to external forces like the flowing water and shifting of the earth underneath it). Reading that back, I think I just got an idea for a blog post.

    1. @joeyjoejoe I always find the hardest thing is being misunderstood. I have to remind myself, No, it’s *their* problem if they take my statements as implied criticisms. 
      Looking forward to that post!

  3. I think when you’ve spent a long time going with the flow, as it were, the hard first step is to figure out what, exactly, your principles are. What do I stand for? How do ensure I actually am the way I want to be in the world? And once you can hear those principles, once you can pull them out of the noise around them, then you have to make sure there’s a reason behind them, a backbone holding them up. As I’ve realized, having weak principles you don’t actually care about isn’t much better than having no principles at all. And then, finally, you have to get ok with vocalizing your principles, with standing by them and letting other people know what is and is not ok by you. I’m learning it’s quite a process, this shaping of principles, and I’m still very much working on mine. But it’s empowering to be able to say, “I’m sorry, but I do things this way” and have it come from a place of conviction and purpose.

    1. @remadebyhand Weak principles suck! They’re nothing more than a ‘that’s what everyone else does!’ copout. But the key is when you *actually notice* the exceptions to your weak principle, and you use that information to find the underlying principle that you DO agree with and uphold.

  4. I like this question. I think I stand for the individual over the group. The small business over the large corporation, etc. In my actions, that leads me to be a generally liberal/progressive person who is all about universal healthcare, etc.
    In my business, I stand for teaching my expertise to my clients- not just charging them and not showing them the secret sauce.  I try to keep the “there’s enough for everybody” mentality.

  5. michaelwroberts

    I had to think about this one. One thing I stand for is simply considering the other side (actually thinking it through) before taking a strong opinion on a matter. Like in some of the examples you gave here, people consider the alternatives to their actions before making a big decion. Like Denise (and, I’m sure, all of us), I’ve been around my share of folks who are simply going to think what they think no matter what. No discussion about it.
    I try to fully consider the alternative to my actions, and I also try to help people at least consider the other side. It’s not that I even want to change people’s minds, but I hate how the discussion and understanding between people can completely shut down when it could be avoided.

  6. Oh boy.  I am a private business owner in Texas.  I think very differently than the majority of people around me. So, what to do?  Move?  Egads, it’s rather challenging when you love your students and have built a successful business.  Luckily I have a few friends here (and of course, the super hub) who won’t drag me behind a truck for what I think.

    1. @tammyrenzi That’s been tough for me too in the past. I solved the problem by making friends online and only talking about the weather to the people I know in person 😉

      1. @Shanna Mann  This is what we’ve resigned ourselves to (the weather), and it allows us to get a hell of a lot done too. Another rainy day, Mr. So and So!  Yup!  When’s it gonna stop?  Fill the coffee cup. Back to writing.
        Oh, and I love the ‘tempests in teapots’ – I see so many promises of eternal happiness if I just do this one thing according to “experts” online.  Not that I don’t think there are many valuable resources, but it’s weeding through the BS. 
        I’m not sure who found this group – CJ, I do believe, but we have loved every minute of the conversations.

  7. I will not be attending kiddie-type theme parks – ever, not even to appease a friend or relative. That is simply not a good use of my time. Drop me off at the tavern and pick me up on the way home. Everyone will be much happier this way. When I do something simply to please someone else, devoid of any self interest, it has the startling affect of making me miserable because I am upset at myself for being stupid. I am glad to serve others while I feed myself.
    Sorry to open up the altruism bottle.

    1. So sorry to reply to myself, but I was practicing and thought I should clarify my garbled thoughts. It could even be a 90/10 split, 90 for you and 10 for me. It’s all on the spectrum of give and take. Having principles is hard! I still loathe kiddie theme parks.

  8. I stand for people being themselves, self included. I’ve spent way too much time hiding the incredibly dorky human being I am, and have realized that all that comes from that is being bitter, jaded, repressed… so now I make sure I express my enthusiasm/happiness/excitement when it exists rather than bottling it up and pretending to be ‘cool.’ And you know what? It is the best. It’s attractive. It puts good energy out into the world. And now I get to help clients do this too… how awesome is that?

  9. @Shanna ~ You were fortunate! That B/W – Y/N thinking nearly surrounds us, even off-line! And it’s so entrenched in folks’ thinking and talking that they don’t even see it…

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