Exploring Human Potential

7 & 7: Principled vs. Unprincipled


The principles most people aspire to live by come quite naturally to mind because they simply feel right, or sound right to the majority. We make choices – good over evil, love over hate, gentleness over cruelty. Individuals, families, and societies fight over principles, some say because it is simpler than living up to those principles. We equate certain virtues with success – sincerity, justice, chastity, humility, and industry to name a few. But whether this is true is more about how we define success (long-term vs. short-term, ourselves vs. others, material vs. spiritual). Whose success are we talking about, the principled or the unprincipled? Principled people seem to feel comfortable in their own clothes. Principled people do not seem to surround themselves with unprincipled people. Principled people are viewed as valuable rather than successful. Their values are not ideas which flow from their mind, but rather are a part of a mindset. Knowing it deeply, they do it easily and naturally. They are not forced to seek direction or justification from outside because they are self-directed from within.  The measure of their principles can be taken by where they spend their time and the objects they pursue. The methods matter little if grounded in principles. Because principles provide the direction and the pathway to a worthy destination.


Intelligence is derived from two words – inter and legere – inter meaning ‘between’ and legere meaning ‘to choose’. An intelligent person, therefore, is one who has learned ‘to choose between’. He knows that good is better than evil, that confidence should supersede fear, that love is superior to hate, that gentleness is better than cruelty, forbearance than intolerance, compassion than arrogance, and that truth has more virtue than ignorance.
J. Martin Klotsche

It is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.
Adlai Stevenson

Thirteen virtues necessary for true success: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.
Benjamin Franklin

Beware all enterprises that require new clothes.
Henry David Thoreau

Who lies for you will lie against you.
Bosnian proverb

Try not to become a man of success, but rather a man of value.
Albert Einstein

A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind.
Robert Bolton

Doing what’s right isn’t the problem. It’s knowing what’s right.
Lyndon B. Johnson

We trust, sir, that God is on our side. It is more important to know that we are on God’s side.
Abraham Lincoln

The true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues.
Marcus Aurelius

The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.
Ancient Buddhist Proverb

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