Set Your Compass – What are Your Guiding Principles?

map and compassMy Dad would often say “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”  When I was younger, I thought he was just quoting a hokey country music song, but as I grew older – especially when I became a business owner – I knew what he was saying loud and clear.  You need to be guided by your principles, otherwise, you will be lost.

As a guide, I depend on my map and compass and my natural bearings to guide me from point A to point B.  Whether I am “boxing in” the needle of my compass, or I am looking to the sky to find the North Star – I am depending on laws of nature that never change – True North will always be True North – and the North Star always points North.  It’s important in life, and in business to have steadfast, never changing principles that will guide you through tough decisions.  It’s even more important to have them written in a prominent place where you can refer to them often. (Your Map)  Guiding principles help you make faster decisions and prioritize, therefore making them a valuable tool in managing your time.

Guiding Principles are what lead you through life and keep you from getting lost. Without them, you will never be able to prioritize or effectively manage your time.

How do I create a Guiding Principles statement?  Guiding Principles are personal.  It’s tough to follow a “step-by-step” process to extract them from your inner being and out on paper.  Just trust that you do have guiding principles – they are within you…. and if you get quiet and patiently listen, you will be able to translate your Inner Guide’s voice and capture them in words.  Here is the process I recommend to follow:

Get Quiet

I highly recommend grabbing a journal, and go for a walk in nature.  Find a place that you can be alone with your thoughts and be still.  Ask yourself a few questions – “What beliefs do I always fall back on when faced with hardships?”  “What values do I hold high?”  “What do I know as the truth?”  Write down your answers and any other thoughts that come to mind.

Take a Bearing

When using a map and compass, bearings are used to accurately travel to a destination or to locate your position.  In life and in business, it’s important to know where you are going, and, at times, determine where you are at any point in time.  Write down some statements that are absolute truths about yourself.   These statements are ones that no one can argue with – they are factual, and you believe them to your core.  You would go to the ends of the earth to argue and defend yourself if someone challenged these statements.  “I am a loving wife.”  “I am a spiritual person.”  “I respect the environment and nature.”  “I live an ethical life and within my integrity.”   Once you have written these down, write a short paragraph on why each statement is meaningful to you.  Benjamin Franklin called these “your convictions”  and Hyrum W. Smith writes about them in his book “10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Mangement.” (which I highly recommend reading)  This list are your way-points… the direction that points you home when life gets you lost.  From time to time, recheck your bearings – are you headed in the right direction, or are you off track?

Box in the Needle

bearings on a compass
image credit – wikipedia

“Boxing in the Needle” is a term used when using an orienting compass to guide you as you follow a bearing.  Every day – box in the needle by looking at your bearings.  Remind yourself of your bearings as you make decisions, set priorities and manage your day.    Keep your bearings in front of you as a reminder of who you are, and what is important to you and walk in the direction of your values.  Never allow yourself to get to far from your bearings – your truths – your convictions.   You can tell when you are getting too far away – you may feel frustrated, resentful, harried,  fearful or blocked.   When you are on track, life flows smoothly, and you feel joyful, peaceful, and content.

Check Your Position

Life has a way of veering us off course and getting us off track.  Sometimes, we are so focused on the day-to-day, we lose sight of the summit.  If you do find yourself lost, take out your bearings, and re-align yourself.  Everyone re-aligns differently – some go to church, some go to nature, and some go to mentors or coaches.  However you need to get back in alignment and get back on course, remember that you are not perfect, we are all human, and not all who wander are lost.

If you’d like more support on defining your guiding principles, finding your bearings, or checking your position – check out my Mapping Session – it’s a great way to get oriented towards your personal and professional goals.

Until then – Hit the Heights!

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
The Natural Leadership & Business Guide

Follow Priscilla Hansen Mahoney:

Business Leadership Guide and Founder of Blazing Trails Coaching I help business owners and leaders grow healthy, sustainable, and resilient organizations. I help you train your leaders, manage your resources, and create time saving workflows that help you become the efficient, productive leader you were meant to be, and your business and family deserves.

2 Responses

  1. Erik Conover

    Move forward openly with curiosity and amusement with your passions rather than demands and hopes. Don’t expect it to go as planned but know that the unplanned may lead to the best later. The best is yet to come


    • blazingtrailscoach

      Yes! We are not perfect – and that in itself is perfect! Life is a daring adventure! Thanks for the comment Erik – it’s good seeing you on The Trail!

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