Standing On Solid Ground

The events over the last few weeks have led many people to do some soul searching. The centre of power has shifted in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. A cataclysmic financial crisis is rocking the world at the moment with a devastating ripple effect on the whole world’s financial markets. As I write the rand is on R9.60 to the US Dollar (a level it last reached six years ago!) How the US financial system which is the doyen of prudent financial practice resorted to subprime lending policies beats me. Would you rather be run over by a tractor or by Schumacher? The US chose the former. Even banks in the developing world know the basics of prudent credit policy. The bottom line is that the foundations have been shaken. Institutions of confidence such as governments and financial houses are now dens of robbers and habitations of cruelty. If anyone had put faith in the government and financial systems of this world, all that is now shattered. In order to stand when the storms of life come you need to stand on principles.

The Importance of Principles

Principles do not change because the world around you has changed. They are like laws, such as the law of gravity. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, whatever goes up will still be pulled down by the force of gravity. It’s a law! I always like to use the example of a plane flying on GPS (Global Positioning System). Even if there is turbulence, the plane will stay the course. Principles are like an internal compass or GPS – they will take you where you must go. I would like to share important principles which you need to cultivate in your life. These principles provide a source of strength and stability in times of turbulence and anchors in life’s ocean.

Principle of Security

This refers to your sense of worth, emotional anchorage, self esteem, personal strength and identity. Who are you and who you are? The best part you can play in life is simply the one which expresses who you are. If you are secure in your identity, you approach life with confidence. One of things which destroy potential is to allow others to label you…stupid, lazy, useless or confused. The labels become a self fulfilling prophecy. Self-awareness enables you to examine your paradigms, to look at your glasses as well as through them, to think about your thoughts, and to enlarge the separation between stimulus and response. Self-aware, you can take responsibility for reprogramming or rescripting yourself out of the stimulus-response mode. You can face today and tomorrow with a sure confidence because you know who you are and you are in charge.

Principle of Wisdom

Wisdom refers to your perspective on life; your sense of balance and understanding, judgement, discernment and comprehension. Wisdom is the highest level on the knowledge continuum (knowledge, understanding and wisdom). This is respectively gnosis, phronesis and sophia in Greek. These have a deeper meaning in the Greek but for time and space we won’t go there. If you only have knowledge but have no understanding, you are like a car without an engine. Wisdom includes both the engine and the driver. The principle of wisdom means you know what, how, where and when to do and with who. The financial mandarins at Lehman Brothers or Merrill Lynch are no better than the guy who caused the Barings Bank collapse. Wisdom is the principle thing which makes you operate with discernment, insight, moderation and comprehension. You can easily navigate the mine fields of life. You can never get a foot wrong when you operate in wisdom.

Principle of Independent Will

Independent will is your capacity to act, the power to transcend your paradigms, to swim upstream, to re-write your scripts, to act based on principles rather than reacting based on emotions, moods, or circumstances. While environmental or genetic influences may be very powerful, they do not control you. You are not a victim. You are not the product of your past. You are the product of your choices. You are “response-able,” meaning you are able to choose our response. This power to choose is a reflection of your independent will. This means you can never allow despots, inflation, economy, geography or anything or anybody for that matter to interfere with your destiny. This principle means no more excuses – you can walk away or you can rewrite your own rules.

Principle of Conscience

Conscience puts you in touch with something within you even deeper than your thoughts and something outside you more reliable than your values. It connects you with the wisdom of the ages and the wisdom of the heart. It is an internal guidance system that allows you to sense when you act or even contemplate acting in a way that’s contrary to your deepest values and “true north” principles. This principle is important because it is what makes you to act with integrity when you would rather take the easy way out. The voice of conscience is so important in a world with so many noises and where many have seared their conscience. How can 80% of a whole nation starve while politicians play power games?

Principle of Creativity

Creative imagination empowers you to create beyond your present reality. It enables you to write personal mission statements, set goals or visualise yourself living your vision even in the most challenging circumstances. You can imagine any scenario you want for the future. Memory is limited. It’s finite because it deals with the past. Imagination is infinite; it deals with the present and the future, with potential, with vision and mission and goals with anything that is not now but can be. You can create and imagine a way out of any situation.

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