Define Your Guiding Principles

By John Barrows | December 21, 2016

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A while ago I put together a list of Guiding Principles that were the baseline of how I made decisions and what I felt was important to focus on in order to be successful. I have these principles pinned up in front of my desk to remind me everyday of what I need to do to make things happen.


I don’t remember exactly when it was or what prompted me, but early in my career I developed this list of guidelines to help me achieve my goals in sales, business, and life. I think it was after I read one of those books on success like, “Think and Grow Rich” which talks about the importance of goal setting and having principles. After a few different versions I ended up with these 12 guiding ideas:

  1. Work smart and hard

  2. Always ask for feedback

  3. Set high but attainable goals and tell people about them

  4. Earn everything

  5. Be open and honest with everyone, especially yourself

  6. Don’t think you’re better than anyone else but know no one is better than you

  7. Confidence overcomes most shortcomings except an ego

  8. Find your passion or find something else to do

  9. What goes around comes around

  10. You can learn something new from everyone and every situation

  11. Get at least 1% better every day

  12. Be ok with worst case scenario

This exercise and my resulting Guiding Principles  have helped me stay focused and have had a very positive impact on my career. They’ve also helped to let other people know where I’m coming from when I make decisions, specifically employees and partners.

We all need to have principles that we live by and that guide us. It’s worth taking the time to write them down so you can remind yourself when you get off track. Take some time before the New Year to think about yours and write them down so that next year you can stay grounded and focused.

Make it Happen!

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  • Ali Kirman

    Thank you John… I find all your articles and videos are concise, easy to comprehend and practical.

  • David

    Great article, thanks for writing it up. These kind of principles give a look inside your mind and what guides you. The foundation I guess?

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