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.



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