Living by Principle and Not the Rules…

Opaque ink on black card stock – Words: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

We were taught as children to obey the rules. We heard that at home, in school, and in every activity in which we participated. And when we didn’t follow the rules there were consequences, consequences that might even show up on our permanent record. I believed every word that was spoken, so I followed the rules.

As I grew up I began to wonder about the rules. They were not always fair for me as a single female in a corporate environment. I was discounted and told I was less than because I was a woman, unmarried and told I needed to learn to be glad to have a job. I saw men get the raises I earned, simply because they were married with children – and yes, my boss actually told me I earned the raise but had no family to support so the men who did have family would divide my raise. That is when I began to think differently about the rules.

When I read these words from FDR I understood what he meant. The way I was treated may have followed someone’s version of the rules and yet they showed no universal principles that I had been taught. Rules are not sacred because the rules are usually made up by people to support their ideas, their agenda, and their process with no concern for future generations who do not fit into that box. SO I began living by principle and not always by the rules.

I showed integrity, honesty, a phenomenal work ethic and worked towards making everyone around me look really good. I gave credit to other people for their ideas, invested in myself and others, and served as a leader to make sure my team could do anything I could do and do it better! I made up new rules, bent many others, never waffled when it came to handling money or dealing with people, and made sure I met deadlines. Living and working with principles instead of rules allowed me to become who I am AND it enlightened me to the character and shortcomings of others.

I eventually left that company where the men divided up my raise. And yet I found that same boss – different face, different name, same antiquated processes and thoughts – in other work places. Only this time I was prepared with principles to go beyond the rules so much so that no one could doubt my value and the reason I received the raises. Maybe it is time for you to follow principles instead of the rules. Get out there and be the one who cannot be stopped, bring your A game and outshine the rules. Living, working and thinking outside the box with principles will always bring success.

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