Wrestle With Your Principles

Decisions Series #4

February 17, 2023
Joe and Brett talk about how principles drive decision-making and shape our lives -- whether we're aware of them or not. They distinguish between principles and values and examine what gives a set of principles their clarifying power. Joe shares the principles he's used in life and business, and the process by which he's grappled with them over time.

3:40 Differentiating Principles from Values

12:35 Becoming Aware of Principles

19:00 Principles Important to the Work

23:50 Principles in Different Contexts

28:45 Keeping Principles Well Defined

33:45 How Principles Show Up in Companies

38:00 Setting Principles in Companies

Episode Intro: Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease. I’m Brett Kistler, here today with my co-host Joe Hudson.

Brett: Good morning.

Joe: Good morning. How is the integration going for you at the last retreat?

Brett: It is a lot. It is really good.

Joe: That was a big one.

Brett: Context for listeners, we just did a weeklong retreat and I was a participant in it and got to go through the whole process, which was beautiful.

Joe: It was awesome to watch you.

Brett: Thank you. I had this particular opening where I just felt into some really deep guilt from early childhood, and it moved. Since then, I have been having this disorienting experience of there being a memory in my body of where there used to be a small amount of guilt in many kinds of interactions that was never about the interaction but my mind would have previously made it about the interaction. I am talking to somebody about something I am doing, and I am noticing the absence of being self-conscious like I am trying to sell them something. I am kind of disoriented by it. It is nice to just be here and talk about it. There is not that a little bit of lower level residual emotion from a long time ago. It is stepping out into my life and seeing where that fractal amount of difference shows up in all of my interactions.

Joe: That’s awesome. That makes me happy.

Brett: Also, just feeling generally more sensitive, I am noticing more subtle emotions in myself and if someone is in the room and they are feeling an emotion. I am reminding myself that doesn’t have to be mine. That is something that is over there.

Joe: That’s cool. You look great. Now that I have sidetracked us right from the beginning, what are we supposed to do today, Brett?

Brett: Beautiful sidetrack. Today we have the final episode in the curriculum for the Decisions course. We are going to talk about principles.

Joe: It is one of my favorite topics, and yet it is one of those topics that I notice when I speak it and I am with a bunch of executives and we talk about principles, it is so close to other things that it gets discarded as a values exercise or something like that, one of these exercises where we all get together and agree on something. Then it makes no difference, yet it is such a driving force in my life and the way I live. It is something I love talking about, and when I see it click in folks, it is amazing how it changes their lives and yet for so many I see it just gets disregarded as something they have heard before, some sort of static. I will be curious to see how we do on this one.

3:40 Brett: Let’s start with differentiating what it is you mean when you say principles that may help people not see it as what you are just described as what they might have previously seen as values or something else.

Joe: I don’t know when the whole values thing started. I think it was Kobe, the guy who did the Franklin planner, and he had this whole thing about values. I remember doing it when I was first doing investment banking. Then every company had to do values. They became these exercises. I think it was originally designed to be who we are in this world and what we stand for. I think there have been two problems with those. The first is the values became super generic, and the second one is they are really hard to act upon. We value honesty. Isn’t that what we are all supposed to do generally anyways? It wasn’t differentiated.

Then, I think, the other problem with it is that it was top down, or it was some group somewhere in the company that came up with this idea of values. When Kobe originated the concept, I think it was closer to the idea of principles I have now. I was reminded by that because we were doing this retreat in San Diego, and we were in this house owned by these Mormons. I don’t know if he was Mormon, but it was adopted there. They had their mission statement, this family, of values in the house we were renting on Airbnb. It was actually quite lovely. I thought it was sweet.

The difference is that principles, for me, are how you make a decision by it. For instance, I value honesty. Unless I am choosing to be dishonest, which is not a choice I would make almost ever, then there is no choice that I am going to make based on that value, whereas a principle is all designed on choice. It is all designed on how you make choices automatically because you live by a set of principles. They should very much be designed to create action and to clarify decision making so you don’t have to stop and think about big decisions.

Brett: Can you give an example of how a principle might help you make a decision in the way you are describing?

Joe: The most articulate one I have ever heard as far as a principle goes is something a gentleman from MIT taught me. He said when we are solving a problem and it is a complex problem, the first thing I was taught to do was go to the part I know the least about and do a small experiment there that will teach me the most about the thing I know the least about. He gave this great description. He said if I am building a car and I know how to do all of the parts of a car except for the drive train, then what most of the time will happen is I build the whole car and then the drive train because I would build the thing I know. Then I would realize the drive train wasn’t what I thought it would, and then I would have to rebuild the whole car. Instead, what I will do is the simplest experiment to learn the most about the drivetrain and then I will build the drive train first and then the car around it.

That’s a principle. Immediately when you are solving a problem, you know what to do first, look for the thing you know the least about, figure out how to find out the most in the simplest way. That immediately tells you what to do. That’s a great principle for engineering and design.

Brett: What’s another example of a principle in another arena?

Joe: One of my principles is connection, connection, connection. For me, that principle tells me immediately what to do in most situations where there is any kind of problem that’s happening. Let’s say I am tired, and I notice my mind is being negative. The world isn’t going the way I want it to go. What do I do? The first thing I do is connect. For me, that’s connecting with myself and the people around me. If I am having a problem in the business and we don’t know how to solve it, the first thing I do is connect with myself about what I want and I connect with everyone else to talk about the problem. That’s another example where for me connection is a principle. I use the words connection, connection, connection, connection because it starts with connection, you maintain connection and when in doubt, you connect. That allows me to know what to do anytime there’s a problem.

Brett: It sounds like some of the distinction you are making here between the way you see principles and the way values are commonly held is principles are an action. From your principle can flow action in a situation, whereas a value might be more about how you want things to be generally, but it doesn’t necessarily flow into your decision tree or factor into it other than just to tell you what you should be doing according to some standard.

Joe: It is more of morality. The value situation seems to be more of a morality, and it is about what not to do. Principles are more about what to do. That’s another way to look at it. Another great example of a principle is there is a guy named Ray Dalio. He has made his principles pretty famous. One of his principles is transparent markets are efficient markets, efficient markets being the things that are actually of value rise to their value and things that aren’t don’t. In an efficient market, there is no arbitrage opportunity where things are valued because of inefficiencies in the market rather because of their actual worth. He sees his business as a marketplace in itself. He thinks a transparent market is an efficient market so I will have my business be transparent. That led him all the way to videotaping all of the meetings. Apparently even if you are in a water cooler having a conversation about somebody, you are supposed to record it and then they are supposed to be able to see it. The idea is a completely transparent situation.

As the story goes, everybody was opposed to it because they thought if the lawyers get ahold of this, then we will be able to be sued. It turns out apparently they get sued a lot less because they have it all on tape and everybody knows it, so nobody does any kind of crap. That transparency does make a very efficient market. I would say transparency, more than an efficient market, doesn’t allow rotten culture. The more transparent the culture, the less rot that can happen and the less dry rot in the corner can happen.

Brett: In this case, the principle could be seen as a thesis. Your thesis could be incorrect or correct or lead to different results in the market. Without saying how correct or incorrect, it could lead you to different places. You have different principles. It will take you different places. If you operate by a set of principles, you will be able to make decisions very fast that are relatively consistent so you are more likely to get to wherever your principles would lead you than if you didn’t have them.

Joe: Exactly. You just said something in passing there that is so important, which is the principles lead you. When you have decided on some principles, you follow them. When we did the big 18 month course together and I stuck the principles on the wall, that was the authority. The authority was the principles. We lived by them. It didn’t matter about me or somebody else. If there was a way to look at it and say there was a way to live more closely to the principles, then that’s what we were there to do. We follow them. That’s another great thing to see is that when you have a great set of principles, the authority isn´t in what you want, what you are scared of or in the fear. The authority is in the principles, and that is what you follow.

12:35 Brett: I guess something that comes up for me there with this principles as thesis idea is if you consistently make decisions based on something you are not aware of, it is effectively a principle. You might be making decisions as a business that profit is more important than our people, and you may never have explicitly said that but if those are the decisions you tend to make because there is the fear of not making enough profit, then you are going to go wherever those principles lead you. But you are not aware of it, so you can’t iterate on the principle.

Joe: That is right. In a way, most of us are operating on a set of principles anyways. It might be to avoid fear. That might be the principle, or the principle might be to make as much money as possible in the shortest period of time. It might be to just win at any cost. It might be to put somebody’s discomfort ahead of profit. I see that happening a lot in non-profits or even in the viability of the company. Whatever that is, that principle is how you are making decisions and one of the things about a principle’s exercise and the way you live is it brings those things to light and it allows you to iterate and modify them.

Brett: There is this idea that we are all operating under principles we can become more and more aware and then be more conscious of which ones we are choosing to adhere to. That brings up the question of how this particular form of relating to principles arises for you. How did this distinction come up in your life such that you could articulate it?

Joe: That’s a great question. The first principle that dawned on me before it was even conscious was the principle of embracing intensity. I started noticing that when I did lean in to the difficult thing, I think it started with therapy with Tara when we were first married and we were highly dysfunctional in our relationship. I learned that if we would discuss the difficult thing and address it no matter how scary it was, that would make our marriage stronger. I started doing that somewhat naturally, and then I realized I wonder if this works in other parts of my life as well. In business, I saw that the CEOs who leaned into the thing that people didn’t want to talk about and didn’t want to lean into and wanted to get the bad news or the bad data, they were just more successful. I would lean in there.

Then I had that experience I have talked about a couple of times of driving past a house where I felt really horrible because we had been evicted. I just leaned in there to the emotional experience. That created a tremendous amount of freedom. I kept on embracing that intensity. I just realized this is something that works across the board, and it is something I do generally. At some point later on, I saw that maybe I was creating intensity to embrace, and it didn’t work. Then there was that distinction that was created. For me, that was the first one. Then I realized that this was this thing in my life that once I recognize it, I do it all the time even when I don’t want to and even when it is not the convenient thing because I see it works so consistently and so well. I could see I just naturally do it. Like working out, I know if I work out, I feel better, so I work out even though it might be uncomfortable.

That was the first principle, and that’s where it all stemmed from. Then I started looking for the other principles and what works really well and living by them and experimenting with them and seeing when it worked and didn’t work.

Brett: There was a moment in there where you mentioned the driving by the house example. I wonder if you could give us a different version of that.

Joe: Yeah, there are a thousand of them. During the retreat we were doing, oftentimes when we are doing a retreat, somebody uncovers something deep in them, like you were saying you uncovered that little bit of guilt. If somebody uncovers something that is particular to their father, oftentimes they will act that thing out. During the last retreat, I had somebody who was acting it out with me, and normally that’s not a bother for me. However, this particular one was a bother because it hooked exactly with the thing that hooks in me. When I would see that person and they would try to trigger me, I would actually get triggered instead of just seeing it as the shame football they were throwing around or them acting out looking for their healing process. I was taking it personally.

For me, the whole thing is to absolutely, deeply feel that taking it personally. It is to feel that you have done something wrong here and allow that entire emotional experience through and then to love it and welcome it. Then I am no longer triggered by it and I am able to speak to it. Another one was I had somebody write me a letter a year and a half ago, and even if it was all projection, it doesn’t matter. They had this thing where they really wanted to tell me, and when I read it, one part of it felt like a kick in the gut. I reread that letter every day for probably a week until there was no more kick in the gut and I could totally be with that and there was no resistance to what they were saying. That would be another example.

Brett: How do you state the principles you were just describing in these examples? Was that connection?

Joe: Those are all embrace intensity, for me. There was this intense moment of a trigger and of a gut punch, and then how do I lean into that, love that, and welcome that? For me, those are all embrace intensity.

19:00 Brett: Before we move on, I would like to touch a little bit more on what principles are important to you and in particular within this work.

Joe: If I look at my life and I think how I got here, it was just the sum of decisions that I have made. If I look at everything that’s going right and wrong, at least the part that I have any kind of control over is the decisions I have made. There are some things obviously I have no control over. Making decisions is an incredibly important part of the result of my life, and the funny thing is I said it about my companies before I said it about myself or somebody’s life. I would say the only thing you have in a company is people’s relationships and decisions. That’s really all you have, and those are the atomic structures of a company.

Decisions we make are also the atomic structure of our lives, what we choose to do with our time and our energy and how we choose to be with people. That really is the result. Really looking at that process and figuring out how to refine it and make it most efficient is, for me, paramount for living the life you want to live. Maybe it is not paramount because there are a lot of ways to live a great life without looking at it. However, I would say it is such a great leverage point, such a great tool to really look at and refine the way you make decisions.

Brett: How have your principles changed and evolved over time if at all? Have you just been slowly honing down to some core principles that seem to be true for you?

Joe: They have changed a lot. As you said, at the beginning, they were just unconscious. If I think about myself in my 20s, I would say my principles, especially before therapy, were being scared of love and trying to get love, then not getting it, but trying to get it, being scared of it and finding any kind of way outside of the pain from my self-abuse. If I look at the principles I was living by, those are the principles I was living by. I think there was also taking care of others. I know that’s true, taking care of others even if it wasn’t good for me out of a sense of obligation and that obligation made me good and moral. Those are what I was living by, but I wasn’t conscious of it at all.

Then when I started thinking about it consciously, a couple of things happened. The first thing that happened was the embracing intensity one and then the next obvious one was the connection one. Then I noticed that I had some that were overlapping, some that weren’t as useful, and some that were more moral, and less action based. All of those things moved for me. The ones I am with now have been consistent for about five years, but even one changed a little bit. I think the first iteration of it was what you are curious about right now, and then there was an iteration of it that was what the question is. Now it is just wonder, exclamation point.

What you are curious about was a pointer to look for the unknown and to the see the thing that you wouldn’t otherwise see to keep a learner’s mindset. It was all an indication of that. I find that wonder is a stronger force. It doesn’t require me to look for an answer. It is the openness and the awe without the needing of an answer, which seems to drive much better decision making, problem solving than trying to get to the answer. That trying disconnects me.

That one is the only one that has changed in the last five years, but I am constantly thinking about them, which I think is the most important part. The experimentation, the thinking about it and reviewing it is more important than the actual principles. That’s what I have noticed.

Brett: In these examples, you have described principles that have worked for you as an executive coach living in Sonoma County. How would this work if you switched contexts entirely? Let’s say you are a soldier in Ukraine. Neither of us have context in that, but how would you imagine that your principles would play out there?

23:50 Joe: That’s a great, holy crap, question. I am hoping they would be similar. If I let my imagination go for a minute and I would think connecting with the unit I am in and having that strong sense of connection would be incredibly important. Connecting with myself on a regular basis so that I was not acting out of fear but acting in the way that I wanted to act would be really important. Embracing intensity would be really important rather than running away from the emotional experience or running away from the job that needed to be done or doing the job that needed to be done half ass because I would think that would be really important.

Now that I think about it, wonder might not be as important in that situation.

Brett: I don’t know. I think it would be. I mean if you are following an order or a tactical plan, you need to be in wonder to notice if something has changed. If you are not in wonder, especially if you are doing things that are deadly, consequences could be severe.

Joe: I could see how you would know that jumping off of incredibly tall objects.

Brett: You must stay in wonder.

Joe: I would hope they would be the same. However, there are sets of principles for certain contexts. There are sets of principles I think about for marketing. For instance, when we do marketing, I have all these principles. It is about connection, embracing intensity, saying the thing people normally wouldn’t say, wonder, and constantly iterating. However, there are marketing principles I have. Everything you do in marketing isn’t meant to sell anything. It is just to help people see the appeal of the next step of the process. Then, another principle I have in marketing is it needs to be teaching, meaning the marketing isn’t to sell something. It is to create an epiphany. If people want epiphanies, they will keep on following the marketing, so to speak. If the marketing isn’t part of the teaching, it isn’t the marketing I want to do. Those don’t apply to everything.

I am sure there would be some principles to war that I would acquire and be thinking about so that I can make split second decisions I have no idea about. I would also think these principles might be modified. If I have somebody I am competing with in a business context, I will still connect with them. I find it works really well. In fact, I think it is one of Silicon Valley’s big strengths. A lot of would-be competitors actually work together in this field. That idea of hundred percent competition all of the time is very different from back in the IBM days, for instance. However, I might not want to connect depending on the position. If I am a private foot soldier, I am not thinking about connecting with the Russian private foot soldier on the other side. If I were the general, I might be.

Brett: You would want to connect with their position and information about them. Keep your friends closer and competitors closer.

Joe: I think there would be a modification. I would understand the principles differently and probably more deeply. I constantly am trying to apply these principles in different contexts to see if they still work and see what I can break out of them and what needs to change. I would assume my understanding of these principles would change if I was in a war as well.

Brett: Ultimately you are saying that your principle of everything as an iteration applies to your principles as well.

Joe: That’s correct. Like I said, the power of having principles is less about the principles you have and the more about the process. I think this is the thing that gets people all of the time. Whether they are CEOs or creating their own personal principles, they think they have got them and that’s it. What happens is three years later they have completely forgotten their principles and they are not living them. I think it was Steve Jobs. One of his principles was to wrestle with your principles. The job is to continually wrestle with them. For me, it is the same thing. Everything is an iteration. It is a process of learning. It is not a process of knowing.

28:45 Brett: Let’s talk about while you are iterating on your principles, how you keep them well defined. How do you define them such that they are actionable principles, and they don’t start drifting into the space of shoulds or morality or values and lose their teeth?

Joe: I really think it is important to keep to about five principles. Having too many, you don’t remember them. You can’t remember them as well. My principles are connection, connection, connection, and everything is an iteration. That is about never thinking there is an answer, and never having the shame of getting it wrong. You are constantly learning and continuing to iterate. Wonder, exclamation point. Embrace intensity. Loving accountability. That one is how I hold accountability without shame. That’s another way to say that.

When I am defining them, I define each as what they are and what they are not. That’s a really important thing. Any principle, whether it is in a company or it is a personal principle, can be taken to such an extreme that it does almost the opposite. A great example of this is inclusion. Let’s say one of your principles is inclusion. Inclusion taken all the way to some end is very destructive, and it isn’t what is meant by inclusion anymore. Are we including murderers, people who are toxic for the environment? What are we inclusive of exactly? If I was to have a principle like inclusiveness, it would be defined as something like being open to different points of view from different backgrounds. It would be seeking to understand before seeking to prove wrong. It would be very much about that kind of inclusion.

It would not be something like everybody has a voice even if they are not contributing. If you are not being a part of the solution, having a solution is actually quite detrimental. It would be not that we are including things that are outside of our principles. It is really important to talk about what they are and what they are not and to have clear examples of them. That’s what you run your tests on. Let’s say my principle is inclusion. That wouldn’t be mine. Let’s say everything is an iteration. If that’s my principle, then I am constantly running experiments. Is it an iteration, for instance, to just put something on the website and not caring if the grammar is good? That doesn’t feel right to me. We can make it as best as possible. I don’t want to say we are not going to do quality because it is an iteration. What I do want to say is we are going to do our best work, but we are going to see that the best work is going to have problems and that getting it done and testing it is more important than trying to get it perfect. I need to understand both sides of the principles and where the limits of the principle are. To do that, I always define it by what it is and what it isn’t.

The other thing that’s really important is you are trying to affect behavior, and so you need to use some marketing techniques. Marketers are really good at affecting behavior. For me, making them memorable, everything is an iteration, loving accountability, wonder are very memorable to me. I am more apt to use them and to make them memorable. That needs to be part of it. The other thing that’s really important is I need to have a felt sense of them to really be able to define what the principle is somatically. What does it feel like to be in everything is an iteration or to be embracing intensity? There is a somatic response for me of really feeling what it is to live in that principle. What’s the state that it brings me to? What is the state it doesn’t bring me to? I don’t have just an intellectual one. I have a felt sense of one because the felt sense is what makes me make decisions quicker than just an intellectual one.

33:45 Brett: I am curious how that would apply to a business principle, like Ray Dalio’s regarding the efficiency of the market. How does that show up in your body? Or transparency.

Joe: If transparency is my principle, there is a very clear feeling I have when I am hiding something. There is a very sneaky feeling. Transparency also, if I am living it at its very edge, then there is a little bit of fear. To open the kimono fully, so to speak, to video that thing, there is going to be a little bit of fear to it. I know that’s the edge of my transparency, whereas being transparent in a way that hurts somebody wouldn’t feel good in my system and it wouldn’t be an edge of like walking into a giant room and being on a stage. It would be hurting somebody. That would be a very different somatic experience.

Brett: If there was a principle in a company of transparency, anybody in a meeting could sense if there is not transparency in that meeting. There is a way you can feel that. You feel the tension in your body. You feel something off. If the principle is to speak to that, then that will produce a lot more transparency.

Joe: They have great transparency, but here is something I can almost guarantee you they don’t have. They have algorithms.  I mean this is a hedge fund company. I am sure they are not giving the janitor the algorithm for their alpha hedge fund or whatever it is. Even there, what is it and what is it not. You have to define it both ways. There is a clear feeling. It would not feel the same way. Videoing all the meetings and watching videos where your name was mentioned would feel one, and handing trade secrets off to the janitor would feel a very different way in the body.

Brett: What else comes up for you around defining principles?

Joe: The other thing is the definition is less important than the experimentation. Again, the most important thing is saying here is a principle you want to live by and everybody you do an experiment, maybe two or three times a day. How did that work? What worked for me? Does it work overall? There is no principle that you are going to have that’s going to feel great all of the time. For instance, I am sure one time that videotaped meeting lost them some money or a really good person. Nothing works a hundred percent of the time when it comes to humanity. Doing lots of experimentation, really understanding it, keeping it, constantly doing the experiments, revisiting on a regular basis, and wrestling with it, that’s more important than anything else because it is what you know of it.

If I say transparency to you and to me, it can mean and feel very different. What’s important is that experimentation. That is particularly important inside of companies. It is not something that five people do. It is something everybody experiments with and learns from.

Brett: That brings up the question of if you are the leader in an organization, how you build an organization that operates on principles when you are only one person and you are not wanting to do this in a top down way but that’s the only leverage point you have or seemingly.

38:00 Joe: I have walked a ton of CEOs through this intellectually. Then I have actually gone into companies and done it with CEOs before. There are a lot of subtle steps that if missed, it won’t work. I will tell you how I do it and where the missteps typically are. The way I would do it is we would go to the executive team and say the assignment is to come up with five principles you think we should run the company together and then all of them would present it to the CEO. Then the CEO would present theirs. They would do it independently, so you had independent thought. Pretty soon, you would find out that everybody probably agreed on the same five principles. There would be different wording and maybe two become one, but there is not going to be a lot of disagreement typically. I’ve never had it.

Once you have that, then the executive team experiments with them. They do one experiment every day for one principle for five days. Maybe it takes about a month for them to experiment with all of the principles. They, online, share. They have a channel where they say what principle they did and what happened. They are all sharing and learning from each other’s experiences so you don’t just get one person’s experience from it. When that is done, then the CEO because they are the CEO is the final decision maker. They see what the experiments are and decide what they mean and don’t mean.

Then you release them to the company. They say the company is going to experiment with them, and the whole company experiments with the principles. I have done this in a 1,200-person company. There are channels, Slack or whatever, where they are talking about the experiments they have done and they are learning from one another. They say where the problems are or these principles worked this way but they didn’t know about them this way. There is all this adjustment and learning. They are learning from each other what living by this principle actually means and where they can put it to use. Again, the CEO gets to decide what changes, if any changes, and how to define them based on all of those experiments.

The other thing I have done with one company, which was a very flat organization, is before the executives came together, the whole company had a week to watch this video I made about how to make them. Then they got to suggest some that the executives could pay attention to or not. They were also part of the brainstorming process. Then every quarter or so, they will take one of the principles and say here is one we are living by. They will all experiment with it and ask if they want to change it or say here is a new one we want to try. Do we add it or subtract something? It is a way to wrestle with them. That’s how it works. When it stops working for people…

Brett: What are the pitfalls? How does this not work?

Joe: No experimentation, people aren’t held accountable for the experimentation, top down, someone going into the room and saying here are the principles or some small group does. None of that works. Once all of this is done, then everybody in the company is responsible for finding and committing to one way of reminding everybody to live to the principles. Maybe that’s making a sign you put in the bathrooms or having a discussion group once every quarter or changing the way that you do reviews so the principles are a part of the review process or changing the sales pipeline so connection is a bigger part. What happens is after the process is done, everybody is responsible for implementing those principles in some way in the company. Everybody has a way that they get to choose on their own. That makes it, again, so that it is a lived thing. It is not just an exercise that was done.

A lot of times CEOs will assign those tasks, and that doesn’t work. It needs to be volunteered and out of their initiative. Another is there are no tasks. People think they did the exercise and now we will live by those principles. I have had people in companies create emojis for the principles, and that becomes shorthand inside of the company. The principles become shorthand, or people ask what a principle says we should do, and everybody agrees to do that. When it works, it works really well. It saves so much time. It is like being a great parent or training a dog. It takes a lot of upfront time but saves a lot of time on the backend.

Brett: What else? I am curious to get some disaster stories from you in principle setting, discovery and roll out.

Joe: The only thing that doesn’t work for people is they don’t wrestle with them. They don’t constantly iterate it and they are not running the experiments. That’s when the principles fail for people. They don’t blow up people’s lives. What I notice is they just don’t live by the principles and they are back into the old patterns. They don’t make decisions quickly, gracefully or with a better result I would say.

In companies, there is one other thing that has happened in some companies. They have their mission statement, which is meaningless and nobody looks at, and our core values, which are meaningful and nobody looks at or it is meaningful and nobody looks at, and then they say now they are going to do principles. Now they have a mission and this and that. What do we listen to? It is confusing. The signal to noise ratio is just too high. I think it is really important if a company is going to do it to really prioritize how you are doing this and what’s really needed, what’s not needed and what’s being listened to. Like anything, you have to edit really well. You have to throw stuff out to make it work. That’s it.

Brett: Awesome.

Joe: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, and I am glad that we got this last one for the Decision course created. I look forward to our next one.

Brett: Me, too. Looking forward to it.

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