The Principle Foundation

The quote in the graphic pictured below is attributed Thomas Jefferson. It is very powerful, and it hangs prominently in The Sellinger School of Business and Management. By basing our life on specific, defined principles we have a road map for our goals, our habits, our career and even our life purpose. Without defined principles we end up self-serving ourselves and trying to evaluate “on the fly” what is the best action in every specific situation. This “on the fly” approach is much like navigating the streets of Washington DC by randomly choosing one way streets to turn on. It leads you nowhere.

Thomas Jefferson Quote: Principles

Basing our life on defined principles is what Steven Covey calls “Character Ethic” in one of my all time favorite books: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey says that the philosophies for success over the last 50 years has been primarily focused on self presentation and promotion, however at the time of America’s founders (such as Thomas Jefferson) it was all about principles of character. That is where we want to be. Our character is our foundation.

That’s why Productivity Wellness depends on a solid foundation of principles. To do this write down (or type out) your principles. What are your principles? You’ll be surprised at how many you already know. These things are close to our hearts so they may pour out easily. If not, make sure that you are in a quiet place, with a quiet mind, where you can just jot down what comes to you. Don’t be self critical, let your thoughts emerge, even over a number of days or weeks (and they will evolve from there).

I’ve revisited, reordered, added, and revised my own principles since writing them originally. As you learn more (often through reading books) your principles will evolve, become modified, and may grow in number. Reviewing them frequently, regardless of how polished they may or may not be, helps keep them front and center and keeps them growing.

Here are a few examples of effective principles. Some of these may ring true for you:

  • Live with Integrity
  • Live a Life of Fidelity
  • Love My Family in all Dimensions
  • Live my Life with Honor
  • Take Responsibility
  • Handle Money and Understand it Appropriately

Adding a few sentences under each will help you to understand and remember what each principle comprises.


Live my Life with Honor:
“I treat all people with fairness, honor my agreements, and have a consistent track record of trustworthiness. I am honest, and do not misrepresent the truth. I do not discriminate against others based on race, color, creed, religion, gender, sexuality, or political notions. I stand up for the weak and persecuted. I speak out for justice, kindness, love, and for my faith in the Lord God. I will never compromise my faith based on popular opinion. I will die for what I believe in and for the people that I love. If the cause is just I will lay down my life for it or sacrifice myself to save the life of an innocent. I will treat others with honor even if they treat me otherwise.”

May your day be productive and well,


Productivity and Wellness is an affiliate member with Amazon, which means that if you buy the product through a link on this site, Productivity and Wellness gets a small percentage of the sale. I will always be honest with you about any product I feature or review, and only endorse something I can honestly associate my name with.  That is a principle I will not waver from.

In this post, I highly recommend Steven Covey’s masterpiece The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. This book has impacted my life in many ways, but most importantly in helping me to establish the Principle Foundation I speak of here.  I have given a copy to every member of my staff.  I find it relevant at work and as a husband and father. I am very pleased to recommend it whole heartedly.



The Consumer vs. The Provider

My Daughter
The best things do not come from Amazon Prime. (My daughter is an exception.)

I’ve been thinking this morning about how people in this country seem to have a consumer or a provider mindset. This mindset can change, but yet switching between them takes energy and willpower. I have come to believe that spending more time in the provider mindset adds greater value to your life than time spent in the consumer mindset.

While getting together with my friend Scott Sax and some of his closest friends I heard his brother Ben comment on how the “Netflix Binge Watching” approach to TV “comes from our desire to consume as much as we can as quickly as we can”. The image that came to mind is that of locusts ripping through a field devouring everything around them. Or  a mosquito that will eat until it is brushed off or bursts.

  • Consumers feed themselves. Providers feed others.
  • Consumers struggle to seem important. Providers lead through example.
  • Providers create. Consumers devour.
  • Providers give. Consumers take.
  • Providers are interested in what others need and want. Consumers are interested in what they want.
  • Providers build wealth. Consumers tend to stay broke.
  • Providers build security. Consumers cycle between desire and fear. (A concept taken from the terrific book Rich Dad / Poor Dad)
  • Providers seek to learn. Consumers seek entertainment.
  • Providers grow. Consumers stagnate.

Personally, I STRUGGLE to move from the consumer mindset and yet EVERYTHING I WANT TO BE resides on the provider side. My wife encourages me constantly in this battle. She is a practically perfect example of a provider. When she spends, it is on clothes for the kids or something that improves our home environment. Other than charitable giving her dollars stay put. How frustrating it must be when her husband easily drops $20 on a Star Wars Blu-ray, a few iPhone apps, and the latest gadget.

In their book The Resolution for Men Stephen and Alex Kendrick explain the dangers of this kind of consumerism on families: “Men today spend more time watching TV or surfing the Internet than in meaningful conversation with their children. If his children are with dad while he’s being entertained, then the television becomes their influence instead. And it is a lousy father.”

But aren’t we all consumers and providers?  Yes, but the point is which is your focus?

Remember this old story?

The Two Wolves

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

  • Steps Forward
    • Principled
    • Health
      • Heart (relationships)
      • Spirit (love)


Productivity and Wellness

As a human being we have almost limitless potential in this world.  In order to make a worthwhile difference during our short lifetimes we must hone our abilities so we can have maximum impact in alignment with our values.

We must be:

  • organized
  • goal oriented
  • prioritized
  • proficient
  • efficient
  • effective
  • principled
  • healthy in mind, body, spirit, and heart

As we improve in these areas we can more successfully direct our optimized selves toward achieving that which is truly worthwhile. Can you imagine being maxed out in each of these areas?  I think it would be awesome. You would be unstoppable.  You would be your “optimized self” and be able to accomplish almost anything.

This is typically expressed as “be all you can be”, “reaching your full potential”,  or “See You at the Top” (Zig Ziglar).  No matter what you call it, we are all capable of optimizing ourselves.  Let’s do it.

I sure would like to max these out for myself.  So I am going to try.  I would not be surprised if along the way this list of eight criteria changes and evolves. I plan to do a lot of reading to understand what advances these attributes in people and I’ll be reflecting on them in my own life.

Does the title for my blog, Productivity and Wellness, really capture something as ambitious as all this? To be honest, I am not certain. I have thought about other names, but I think the simplicity of “Productivity and Wellness” captures what we are talking about in a humble way.  We can explore that more.  Who knows; we might end up renaming this thing along the way.

Give it some thought. Are these the right criteria that we should be measuring ourselves against? By maxing these out would we become “optimized” and reach our full potential?  What does it mean to be productive and well?  Share your thoughts as we begin this journey.

Until next time, be you and be awesome,