Learning How To Prioritize Principles

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Brian Kight

As you gain self-awareness of the friction forces in yourself, don’t let it stay theoretical or intellectual. Make it practical. Turn your self-awareness into self-discipline by:

  1. Simplifying the relationship between each principle you want to live and its primary friction force in you.
  2. Prioritizing each specific principle over its primary friction force.

For example, let’s say you believe in the principle of continuous improvement. You want to stay a life-long learner, expand your understanding, and keep getting better. As you explore the friction forces that would slow or stop you from doing that, you realize it’s all rooted in your ego. You don’t like to be wrong, feel embarrassed, or admit you were ineffective in the past.

Ego would be the friction force to the principle of continuous improvement. When ego gets involved, improvement slows and stops. Simply stated: whenever ego goes up, improvement goes down.

Now we’ve simplified, using this example, the relationship between the principle we want to live and its friction force. Now it’s time to prioritize the principle.

We stay simple and do this through a clear and direct statement:

“Put improvement before ego.”

The reason this works so well is because it acknowledges that the friction force exists and will slow or stop the principle when given the chance. It also acknowledges that both factors, the principle and the friction force, are frequently influencing us at the same time.

By clearly articulating that we will put a principle before a friction force, we give ourselves permission to feel the pull of the friction force, ego, but actively move it to the back of the line in order to prioritize the principle, improvement.

This is much more effective than trying to deny ego as if it doesn’t exist or giving into the demands of ego. Friction forces exist, you can feel them, and you can deprioritize them in favor of more purposeful priorities.

Try to identify five specific principles you want to live with a high degree of discipline and your primary friction force for each one. Solidify that simple relationship first. Then prioritize the principle with a clear and direct written statement using the structure I shared earlier: “Put ______ before ______.” When you’re done you’ll have five of these statements.

Tomorrow I’ll share a big list of common principle + friction force relationships. Let’s see if you experience any of the pairs I observe.

Answer the call. Do the work.

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