“There are three constants in life… Change, Choice, and Principles.” – Stephen Covey
Stephen Covey is one of my favorite authors. I reflect on plenty of his wise quotes. Those reflections fortify me against fear and adversity and push me to add meaning in my life, and in the lives of people I care about.
The above quote is one that I keep returning to. Each time, it enlightens me a little more on how to live a simpler and happier life.
Here’s why the three aspects – change, choice, and principles – should always remain constant in our lives.
“In every change, in every falling leaf there is some pain, some beauty. And that’s the way new leaves grow.” – Amit Ray
Change occurs everywhere, including inside you. Your body cells are constantly creating protein and dividing. Damaged cells either repair themselves or die. But when the damaged cells lose the ability to repair themselves, to change, they turn cancerous.
Changes outside you are similar. Just have a look at the world around you and imagine how much it has changed in the last 20 years. Storage devices have evolved from floppy drives to pen drives, to cloud drives. Offices have scaled down from owning acres of infrastructure to just laptops, phones, and internet connections. (People can even work remotely.) You can get news on social media before news channels break it.
Change is inevitable. When it occurs, you can do one of three things. You can either change before it and become a driver of change. Or you can change with it and survive. Or you can resist it and perish. It all depends on your choices.
Which leads us to the second constant in life.
“I am what I am because of the choices I made yesterday.” – Stephen Covey
Likewise, who we will be tomorrow depends on the choices we make today.
Human beings are one of the few species on the planet capable of making choices. We can choose between eating healthy food or junk food, doing yoga or spending time on Netflix, mastering our mind or being its slave.
Each choice we make compromises either our present or our future. If we sacrifice what’s easy in exchange for what’s important in the present moment, we create a path for a better future. If we sacrifice the important for the easy in the present, we compromise our future.
Likewise, in business, the fruits you taste today are a result of your choices of yesterday. Did you choose to innovate or refuse to change? Did you choose to cheat people or value your reputation? Did you choose to pursue short-term gains or create long-term value? Thus, your choices determine the goals you achieve, the people who work with you, and your company’s future.
As written above, our choices dictate our actions. But our choices get dictated by our principles.
“In choosing to exchange precious principles for worthless impulses, I have far too often bankrupted my soul in order to bankroll my ego.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough
Certain rules define how cricket is played. These rules are the sport’s principles. Likewise, your principles define the broad parameters of how you lead your life. They’re the norms that dictate your choices.
If principles like integrity, discipline, and commitment govern your life, you will automatically choose to do what’s right by everyone and live your life by an inner scorecard.
For people whose lives are not governed by robust principles, well… it’s best to avoid them lest they force you to sacrifice your own principles and make you one of them.
Principles don’t just tell you what to do, they also tell you what to avoid. After all, life is a result of what you don’t do as much as what you do. As the late Steve Jobs said, “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”
Your principles help you draw boundaries for your actions. They direct you to avoid the tasks and people you don’t like and invest your time and energy in pursuing happiness.
Your principles are like your North Star, your guiding light. Define them and stick to them.
In business, the principles of leaders dictate the choices the business makes while treating its stakeholders, handling finances and daily operations, and complying with rules and regulations.
The key to leading a meaningful personal and professional life lies in focusing on three simple aspects:
- Leading the change to stay ahead of the curve instead of trying to resist it.
- Making the choices that let you sleep peacefully at night and create a path for a bright future.
- Sticking to your principles so that you can be the best version of yourself.
What are the constants in your life? Do leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.