Values and Principles

Understanding the relationship between values and principles is essential for living a purposeful and fulfilling life. By aligning our actions with our values and choosing principles that reflect what is important to us, we can navigate life’s challenges with clarity, integrity, and resilience.

Title Photo by RDNE Stock project

A Tale of Principles

Alex and Alice are friends and colleagues at a local company. If you were to ask them what their values are, they’d both give similar answers. Both value hard work, integrity, making a contribution, and recognition. They have similar goals for work they want to achieve while staying true to their values.

But though their values are similar, the principles upon which these values are based are very different. Alex believes in “the rugged individual” and that rewards come solely from one’s own efforts. This causes him to often distrust others, feeling they might try to profit from his work or even take credit for things he did.

Alice, on the other hand, based her values on the principle of cooperation and service. She is known as a team player and often shares credit with others on her team.

Over time, even though their values were much the same, their results at work became vastly different. Alex worked diligently but was limited by the amount of time and energy he could put in. Even though he worked as hard as any of his colleagues, he was limited in what he could accomplish on his own. And eventually, that became less and less as he began to feel the effects of burnout.

Alice, though, thrived in her career. She worked hard, too, but found she could multiply her efforts by working with others. Known as a team player, she quickly got noticed by upper management as a team leader as well. Her career took an upward trajectory. Meanwhile, poor Alex floundered, becoming more and more disillusioned.

Values and Principles

The story of Alex and Alice illustrates that while values provide a foundation for ethical behavior, the principles we choose to uphold can significantly impact our path to success. It highlights the importance of aligning values with actionable principles that lead to positive outcomes in both personal and professional endeavors.

We frequently talk about values and principles as if they are the same thing. But Stephen Covey points out, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, that principles are not values. “Principles are the territory,” Covey writes. “Values are maps.” Values describe the territory and help us find our way. [Covey] Values may change over time but principles are timeless.

Principles are the fundamental truths or rules that govern our thinking and our behavior. They serve as guidelines or standards for ethical conduct and provide a framework for decision-making.

Values are the beliefs that guide and motivate our attitudes and actions. They represent what is important to us as individuals, as a community, and as a society. Values are more specific and they may (and do) change over time.

Why Is This important?

Knowing your values and the underlying principles brings clarity and consistency to our lives.

Values and principles guide ethical decision-making and behavior. They help individuals clarify what is important to them and how they should act in various situations.

Living according to principles that reflect one’s values promotes consistency and authenticity in actions. It helps individuals maintain integrity and credibility in their personal and professional lives.

Adhering to values-based principles contributes to positive outcomes in relationships, work, and society. It fosters trust, respect, and cooperation, leading to enhanced well-being and fulfillment.

That is why it behooves us to choose our values thoughtfully and well. And to do that, we must adhere to right principles.

Right Principles

“There are principles that govern human effectiveness–natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as unchanging . . . as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.” ~ Dr. Stephen R. Covey

We may define these basic principles differently and we may work at them differently but we understand on a basic level that such ideas exist. Here are a few basic principles suggested by Dr. Covey.

  • Fairness – this encompasses our concepts of equity and justice.
  • Honesty – including integrity and truthfulness
  • Service
  • Potential and growth

Just as principles differ from values, principles are different from practices. A practice is “a specific activity or action” [Covey] that we use to live out our principles. The Excelerated Life™ is based on a set of practices and principles that have evolved over time. Here are the foundational principles and the practices we use to live the principles.

The Principle: Get On Solid Ground

From The Excelerated Life Source Book: “To Get On Solid Ground, you begin dealing with things you are condoning but which are draining your energy, your time, and other resources. You first identify the people and issues you struggle with and accept them for who and what they are, not what you wish they were. Then, you take steps to deal with all the annoyances once and for all, so you can focus your resources on growing yourself and your abilities, maximizing your potential and fulfilling your purpose, to become all you can be. In the third step, you identify the core values you want to live by. You develop a plan to live by those values, and you begin carrying out the plan to ensure your life reflects your true values, your Excelerated Values™.”

To “Get On Solid Ground”, we begin building a strong and stable foundation upon which to craft our Excelerated Life™. We do this through the practices of Excelerated Acceptance™, identifying and accepting the things you are struggling with; Excelerated Response™, dealing with the things you’ve been tolerating; and Excelerated Values™, defining and living your Valid Values.

The Principle: Positivity/Happiness

From The Excelerated Life Source Book: “Empirical research indicates that increased positivity leads to better health, better relationships, better decision making, increased creativity, and more resiliency (that is, the ability to quickly recover or bounce back from disappointments and setbacks). Positivity/Happiness gives you specific ways to broaden and build your own reserves of resources.

“Your outlook broadens and you become aware of more choices and opportunities. You are better able to deal with the inevitable obstacles you encounter — you can ‘fail forward’.”

Taking steps to increase your positivity builds a strong foundation on which to create your Excelerated Life™. The practices include Excelerated Strengths™, discovering and using your Signature Strengths; Excelerated Relationships™, nurturing your ties to other people; and Excelerated Positivity™, building the skills in positivity that help you flourish.

values and principles

The Principle: Goals And Goal Setting

“Success is goals. Everything else is commentary.” ~ Brian Tracy

From The Excelerated Life Source Book: “According to Brian Tracy, a leading thinker, writer, and speaker in the field of personal development, only 3% of adults have written goals. Everybody else works for those 3%. . . In this area, we explore ways and ideas for focusing on what you really want, for setting and planning BIG – Bold, Important, Gratifying – goals, and ways to break your BIG goals into achievable steps.”

Built upon the principle of Goals, we have these Excelerated Life™ practices: Excelerated Focus™, aligning your actions with your true desires; Excelerated Contribution™, achieving meaningful objectives; and Excelerated Goal Setting™, setting and planning BIG goals.

The Principle: Action

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

From The Excelerated Life Source Book: “Having a plan – a goal — and a map – meaningful objectives — are important first steps to start your Excelerated Life™ journey. But the plan and the map do you little good if you don’t start moving in the direction of your dreams.”

These practices help you apply the Action principle. Excelerated Discipline™ gets you started and keeps you going, even when things get difficult. Excelerated Movement™ in pursuit of your goals advances you in the direction of your dreams. And Excelerated Productivity™ ensures that you are taking correct action and not wasting effort.

The Principle: Self-Care

From The Excelerated Life Source Book: “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theorizes that, in order to reach the higher need of self-actualizing (what we know as the Excelerated Life™), one must first meet the more basic physical and psychological needs. The area of Self-Care addresses this situation.

“In this area, we first focus on the fundamentals of eating, moving, and sleeping: getting proper nutrition, sufficient exercise, and ample rest. Next, we look at ways to build your reserves to automatically get your needs met on an ongoing basis. Finally, we examine why taking excellent care of yourself is not selfishness, it’s selffulness. You cannot give what you don’t have. Selffulness ensures we have the capacity to give our best selves in Service to the world.”

Using the practices of Excelerated Fundamentals™, Excelerated Reserves™, and Excelerated Selffulness™, we incorporate the principle of self-care into our Excelerated Life™.

The Principle: Life Management

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

From The Excelerated Life Source Book: “Your time and your life energy are your most precious resources. Once they are gone, they cannot be retrieved. Making the best use of your time and your life is necessary in order to meet your highest potential and to pursue self-actualization and an Excelerated Life™.”

These practices are useful for living out the principle of maintenance and Life Management. Excelerated Simplicity™, freeing yourself from complexity and Excelerated Organization™, being clutter-free and well-enough organized go hand in hand. Both principles enable you to stay focused and do the work required in all the other areas. Excelerated Habits™, automating your best behaviors, guide you to wisely use your finite source of willpower to create the habits that automate these practices.

Choosing Your Values

Your values are qualities you deem worthy or desirable. If you consciously choose your values based on right principles and then rely on them when you set goals, make plans, consider opportunities, and interact with others, you are choosing a solid foundation on which to create your life.

When you choose the values you want to guide your life, you begin to live on purpose. You are clear on what that is and you can choose to live in ways that reflect it. You can use this knowledge to guide your behavior. [6 Steps]

Knowing your values helps in decision-making. When you are faced with a choice, you know what matters to you. [6 Steps] You may also experience increased confidence and a feeling of stability. You know what you want and you know what’s important to you. [6 Steps]

When you don’t know or don’t consider your values as you set goals, make plans, etc., you risk having the life you are building come crashing down when bad weather, in the form of problems and crises, strikes. Even if there isn’t a catastrophe, it’s doubtful you will flourish and thrive if you don’t have a solid foundation upon which to build your life.


When values reflect the principles we deem as worthy and desirable, they represent the activities and behaviors that bring us joy, contentment, and feelings of well-being.

Consider your life. What values does it reflect? Are those the qualities or principles that are really the most important to you?

When your life is in congruence with your Valid Values and the principles you deem as important and desirable, you feel in harmony and balanced. If you are feeling out of touch or disconnected, you may not be living out of your values. It’s a good idea to check in from time to time to see that you are being true to your values, whatever they may be.

Use The Valid Values Excelerator to help you (1) identify the values that are most important for you and (2) incorporate your values into your daily life. You can get your free copy of The Valid Values Excelerator here.

Living with Purpose: Embrace Values and Principles for a Fulfilling Life

“One benefit of living a principled life is that the rules can simplify your thought process by eliminating dozens of small decisions.” ~ Holiday Mathis

Understanding the relationship between values and principles is essential to live a purposeful and fulfilling life. By aligning our actions with our values and choosing principles that reflect what is important to us, we can navigate life’s challenges with clarity, integrity, and resilience. It is through conscious reflection and intentional living that we build a life grounded in authenticity, guided by values, and driven by principles that lead to meaningful success and fulfillment. It’s another step on the path to embracing your Excelerated Life™!

What are your values? What principles do they exemplify? Do your actions and behaviors match your stated values? How can you bring them more closely in alignment?
Share your ideas by leaving a post below.

Excelerated Values™ – defining and living your Valid Values – is one practice for creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.

Read more about the Excelerated Life.


6 Steps to Discover Your Core Values. Indeed Career Development. Indeed, December 12, 2019. Web. June 23, 2020.

Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.

Huskey, Steven. The Excelerated Life Source Book Volume 1. E-book ed., Kindle Direct Publishing, 2021.

This blog post includes research information and suggestions provided by ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI. The content was generated with AI assistance and is intended to provide information and guidance. Please note that the suggestions are not official statements from OpenAI. To learn more about ChatGPT and its capabilities, you can visit the OpenAI website.

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