Values and principles. How are they different and why are they important?

Values and principles

Values and principles are very different but it’s not easily apparent.

Most people think about values all the time. This is because values that a person prioritizes are unique to every person.

Values thus are more individualistic. Stephen R. Covey refers to values as a Mental Paradigm i.e. a person’s belief on how things should be.

values and principles

We all make choices every second of every day.

It’s like software that runs in our minds.

It has been programmed from the moment we were born and updated regularly by our experiences.

Even though we make our choices they have an inevitability about them. Ever wondered why that is?

Let’s frame this another way. Have you noticed how people close to you can immediately predict the choices that you will make in certain situations even before you make them?

It’s because we have consciously and/or subconsciously coded our values in our mindset.

Every time we face a choice our values kick in and tell us what to prioritize.

What are Values anyway?

Well, let’s say they are a pair of glasses that we have on our eyes and see the world through.

Some of the values may be profit, family, loyalty, gratification. You get the idea.

Well isn’t it good that we have values and we act according to them? yes and no…

Values are individualistic tendencies burnt in our psyche. Over repeated cycles, we have started using them without thinking while making our choices.

We might not even know the values we prioritize and yet when we act, we feel like we are doing the best we can in the situation we are in. Without ever analyzing our actions.

Values can be used in both positive and negative ways.

Thus even when everything you do feels right, it can be destructive if all our decisions are only value-driven.

Even with good intentions, we can cause irreparable damage to those we are close to. That is where Principles come in.


Stephen R. Covey in his book (7 habits of highly effective people ) says-

Principles are natural laws that exist in the world. Just like Gravity. Whether we believe them or understand them makes no difference what so ever. They always affect our lives in their ways.

Stephen R. Covey

We can’t break principles, we can only break ourselves against them.

Just like the law of gravity. If we jump off a building, it doesn’t matter if we are a good person or a bad person, we will fall to the ground.

If we don’t begin to understand the principles that the world is governed by. We will begin to believe that the world around us works on Fate or luck.

We will think success to other people happens because of something inevitable.
By questioning the world around us we figure out the truth about the ways in which it works.

Mr. Covey refers to this evolving understanding as a Positive Paradigm shift.

An analogy of values and principles at play

So basically let’s say that you lie to a person. You are pretty sure that the lie you said wouldn’t be discovered.

The moment you lied, you made a choice that will begin to propagate in the choices other people make.

Values of lying or instant gratification helped you escape from the situation you were presently in, temporarily.

values and principles

The moment your lie comes out, you will eventually need to use a different lie.

The situation thus over time compounds into something way above your control.

By your actions, you have planted seeds of doubt in the people close to you that now don’t trust you as much.

As the saying goes- A successful Con man always has to find new people to lie to.

This inhibits your ability to form long term lasting relationships with people around you.

Let’s say you Value family and you keep bailing out a family member. In turn, he keeps getting involved in troubles.

As you value family, you feel responsible to do that since you need to save your family member.

In the long term, however, you will find that your actions have incentivized them in behavior that is self-sabotaging.

This is because you never let them face the consequences of their actions and learn from them.

Without the understanding of principles, you will keep believing that all things in the universe happen randomly and it will become really hard to learn from your past experiences.

Since we don’t understand principles we won’t recognize the consistent patterns in which things happen all around us.

Everyone is unique and we all hold certain unique values.

What we need to do is recognize what those values are and if they are based on principles.

If they aren’t, then acting on them will only lead to negative consequences.

This is because our actions will be conflicting with the principles that govern the world.

values and principles

“In the long run principles are just more important than expediency.”

Sir Alex Ferguson

In Conclusion

Values are based on deep-rooted beliefs. Principles, on the other hand, are based on fundamental truths.

We should base our actions around principles and facts instead of beliefs.

As Stephen R. Covey says –

Principles are not values. A gang of thieves can share values, but they are in violation of the fundamental principles we are talking about. Principles are the territory. Values are the maps. When we value correct principles, we have truth- knowledge of things as they are .”

Stephen R. Covey

This week try to focus on the choices you make throughout your days and figure out why you chose to act the way you did. That might bring you closer to the Values you hold dear in your life.

Think over those values and figure out are they based on truth or beliefs. Following through on this will provide you with greater control of the actions you choose.

We urge you to explore what your callings are. Do you possess the courage to chase them? We provide a free ebook called The perfect beginning that might help you in finding those callings.

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Well, that’s all for this post. Have a good day and a good life.