By the time she called me to think through the issue she’d triangled in two people in different offices in her organization (anxiety spawns triangles), reviewed the company guidelines several times, and called a person in a different company to double check legal regulations.

Despite all that she still felt stuck.

After working through the issue she gained enough insight to see how her emotions kept trumping her cognition (actually, in this instance, it was about how someone else’s anxiety was feeding her own anxiety and emotions).

Despite knowing what she needed to do, she was stuck in not being able to follow through.


These experiences highlight how important it is to hold clearly articulated principles.

A clearly articulated principle can be a stay against confusion in the moment when decisiveness and action is called for.

In the midst of anxiety, when cogitation and cerebration becomes a challenge recalling the princilpes that guide action can keep one from getting stuck.


Here are examples of principles that can be of help when one needs to make a decision:


  • If you have to choose between convenience and doing the right thing, do the right thing.


  • If you have to choose between someone’s happiness and doing the ethical thing, do the ethical thing.


  • If you have to choose between your values and a relationship, chose your values.


  • If you have to choose between what is expedient and what is right, do the right thing.


  • If you have to choose between what someone wants and what is best for the system, chose what is best for the system.


What principles guide your actions in times of challenge? What will you choose when you have a choice?

The Center for Lifelong Learning offers many opportunities to learn more about conflict and leadership: