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The principle of the principle

I arrived at home from work the other day to find my two oldest sons loading hay with my father.  I always cherish getting to load square bails of hay on a wagon being pulled by a tractor – lots of childhood memories wrapped up in this ritual.

So I was excited to get down to the field and experience this sacred time with my sons and my Dad.  One catch:  I had heard from my wife that Liam, my middle son was driving the tractor.  I had assumed that driving meant that he was doing some steering while my Dad actually operated the tractor.  No way he was driving since his legs were not long enough to reach the clutch and the brake pedals.

Before I go any further, let me say this:  my Dad is a cautious and wise man.  I trusted that.  So I was a bit surprised when I arrived and found Liam driving the tractor -by himself.   My Dad was tossing the bales up from the ground while my oldest son stacked on the wagon.

I was curious, but said little at first.  This was Dad’s show and I trusted him.  Finally I asked, “Dad, can Liam reach the pedals?”  Dad laughed, and said, “No, but I told him if he needed to stop, to turn off the key.”

A sure way to stop the tractor, was to turn it off.  That is a principle.  It holds true and remains steady.

Yet another principle – my Dad is cautious and wise in ways of farming.  Furthermore, my Dad loves his grandchildren with a fierce love and would never put them in harms way.

As a leader, I am starting to realize, when faced with tough decisions, the principle of the principle is one of my best friends.   In any given situation, if we can get to the underlying principle(s) that are present – the ones that are  true and steady – then we have solid ground to stand on.  And if we can find the principle, then we can find the next step. 

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