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This past spring, in a year-long leadership program I help facilitate for the Department of Human Services in the State of Oklahoma, one of the participants introduced me to This I Believe, an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. Over 125,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, have been archived on their website: www.thisibelieve.org – which is heard on public radio, chronicled through their books, and featured in weekly podcasts. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.
Below is a list of my “This I Believe” principles that I hold to be important in navigating my own life and work. These are the underlying beliefs – my Personal Creed – that guide how I live and form a framework for the decisions I make. I found it to be a fascinating and inspiring exercise to reflect on what I believe – and I encourage you, as leaders, to do the same. As you read my list, take some to time to ask, “What would my personal creed be?”
- While I can influence and impact others, I believe that the only person I can change is me.
- I believe that maturity comes not with age but rather with acceptance of responsibility.
- I believe we are not just a product of our upbringing. We are also a product of our perceptions, our beliefs, and our choices.
- I believe that your life will change forever the day that you decide, once and for all, that all blame is a waste of time.
- I believe in taking the time to clarify, live, and preserve a sense of purpose – a reason for being. When your why gets stronger, the way gets easier.
- I believe in the power of a dream. The purpose of having a dream is not necessarily to achieve it, but rather to inspire yourself to become the kind of person it takes to achieve it.
- I believe that one of the most encouraging facts of life is that our weakness can become our greatest strength.
- I believe that every experience is a potential learning opportunity. Within our wounds lay our greatest gifts and our greatest opportunity for contribution.
- I believe in four fundamental laws:
- The Law of the Echo: Whatever we give will come back to us – ten fold.
- The Law of Focus: What you focus on is what grows. Focus on the problems and they will grow. Focus on the solutions and they will grow.
- The Law of Gratitude: A key to a good life is to always make your gratitude bigger than your circumstances.
- The Law of the Lens: Who we are determines how we see others. We don’t see people as they are; we see people as we are.
10. I believe that the best present we can ever give anyone is to be present in the present. Life is lived now.
11. I believe that entitlement – believing you deserve something just because you want it – never leads to happiness.
12. I believe that happiness is not a destination. Happiness is a method of travel. You are about as happy as you make up your mind to be.
13. I believe that good health is a precious companion. When you have your health you have a thousand wishes, and when you don’t, you have one.
14. I believe that the quality of an individual life has nothing to do with how long you live and everything to do with how you live.
15. I believe that success is not something you pursue. Success is something you attract – by the person you are becoming.
16. Like Scott Peck, I believe in taking the road less travelled – by choosing contribution over consumerism, service over self interest, and character over comfort.
17. I believe that leadership – the capacity to influence others toward a shared and worthy goal – cannot be reduced to technique or title. Great leadership comes from the identity and integrity of the leader.
18. I believe that caring is everything. Caring makes workplaces worth working in, schools worth learning in, and the world worth living in – now and in the future.
19. I believe in a God of my understanding of whom I continue to seek. At the end of my life I hope I can confidently declare that I have done my best to leave this world better than I found it.
20. I believe that the ability to positively impact others comes from being an integrated human being. I agree with Gandhi when he said. “A person cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.” Being a good leader means, first and foremost, being a good person.
If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning. – Mahatma Gandhi
The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs. – James Allen