My wife and I have three sons. They are all adults now, but I remember holding hands with them as we crossed the street when they were little boys. Like most parents, we tried to help them avoid physical injury.
Getting physically hurt would have been a tragedy, but there are other risks that are just as dangerous! Fortunately, I’ve discovered some ways to help us stay safe.
From an early age, our boys have heard me talk about doing everything they can to protect their minds.
I would say to them, “Your mind is like a computer…garbage-in is garbage-out – you want to protect what your eyes see and what ears hear.”
Those boys knew that I was going to ask them:
“What kind of music are you listening to?”
“What movies do you plan to see?”
“What TV shows are you watching?”
“What computer games are you playing?”
“What websites are you visiting?”
“What magazines/books are you reading?”
“What language do you and your friends use or jokes do you tell?”
I would share with them, “When you consistently allow enough garbage to come into your mind, you will eventually begin to live out (in an expedient way) that same garbage – resulting in addiction and consequences.”
I would continue, “On the other hand, when you more consistently protect what your eyes see and what your ears hear, you will live out (in a principled way) a life with growth, blessings, and success.”
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8. NIV
So how do you begin to consistently make principled decisions and avoid the consequences and results of expedient decisions?
Every person can make principled decisions by consistently applying the following three strategies.
Protect Your Mind
We can better understand the importance of protecting our minds when we realize that everything begins with a thought.
In his classic book, As a Man Thinketh, James Allen states, “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”
One of the reasons people don’t achieve their dreams is that they desire to change their results (in an expedient way) without changing their thinking.
You can begin making principled decisions when you implement the “thinking for a change” process:
- Think – Observe what your eyes see and what your ears hear.
- Action – It is said if you act in a principled way for 30 days, you'll form a…
- Habit – And eventually that habit will define your…
- Character – Who you are.
When you change what you think, you change what you do, and you change who you are! – Bobby Albert
Know Your Values
Another key to making principled decisions is to evaluate opportunities in light of your values. I have found that once I discovered my core values (who I was) and had them written down, it became easier to consistently make principled decisions.
Insight: When our employees in our company knew our core values, it also became easier as a TEAM to consistently make principled decisions.
I’ve made a simple Values Discovery Worksheet for you to use in your own core values journey. It’s FREE, and you can download it immediately by <clicking here>. Feel free to print it or save it for your own use.
Prepare a Plan
And even another way is when you are faced to choose between making a principled or an expedient decision, you should:
- Pause, slow down and breathe – get in the habit of “sleeping on it” by waiting overnight before you make your final decision
- Get wise counsel – if you are married, also ask your spouse
- Create a “T” chart and list the “pros” down one side of a paper and the “cons” on the other side
- Ask questions and listen
One of the best tools I have used to ask questions is the Rotary Club’s guide for personal and professional relationships:
The Four-Way Test
Of the things we think, say, or do:
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
When we protect our minds, know our values, and prepare a plan, we'll be positioned to make better decisions!
What do you do to protect your mind? Are you willing to change your behavior in order to make better decisions? Please share your comments <here> and share this blog post with a friend or co-worker.