It’s All About the Principles

One of my mentors was the late William J. Brown, who passed away on March 12, 2015.  “Bill” as we called him, was a seasoned trial attorney who took an interest in mentoring young lawyers in trial advocacy. At 75 he was sharp as a tack- litigating highly complex cases, running 5 miles a day and spending quality time with his utmost priority, his daughter and two grandsons. I had the privilege of renting office space from Bill, working with him, and calling him my friend. Bill practiced law with passion and he loved helping lawyers become excellent litigators.  He would periodically invite us to his home to spend 2 full weekend days watching Herb Stern videos “Trying Cases to Win.” He also had the books in his office and would lend them to us whenever we wanted or needed to learn something. We had a running joke in the office that Bill paid way too much for his monthly subscription of Westlaw, an online legal research software. We’d often challenge him on the service and he’d always respond to any one of us, “well, of course you don’t need to pay for this service, instead of using it, you just come to my office and have me look up the case law for you!”

As Bill sat in his wood floored office of 30 years, he was bombarded daily with lawyers asking him procedural and strategical questions.  I still remember it vividly. His door would be wide open, his back facing it as he worked on his computer. I would tap on the door or call out “Hey William, do you have a minute?” His office chair would instantly roll around to face me, he would take off his glasses and with a big smile, gesture for me to take a seat.
When giving me, or any of my colleagues, advise on how to proceed with our case, Bill would often repeat “Remember, its all about the principles.” He would ask us to recall a portion of the video we watched or book we read. He would remind us of a rule he taught us in the past and he would advise us to stop “reacting” to the opposing side’s tactics. Instead, he would suggest, we should continue our course based upon the principles we learned. Never reacting, but instead acting on our tried and true methods. His methodical system for trying cases always resulted in us, his disciples, being the most prepared, the most organized, and the most likely to win the case.
Life is all about the principles. The most successful people are those that have developed a set of principles to live by, and adhere to those principles despite the circumstances surrounding them. This applies in law, in business, in parenting and in life.
Weight loss is a great example. I’ve often heard people who are fit say to those who are trying to become fit “You gotta be consistent.”

Now think about the definition of consistent- steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.: 
The problem most people have is that they start a new diet or exercise routine, follow it religiously until they lose some weight, and then go back to their old eating habits or patterns. Or they start a new diet or exercise routine, follow it religiously but don’t see results quickly, so they become discouraged and go back to their old eating habits.  Their weight follows their eating pattern like a yo-yo – up, down, up again, down again. Interestingly enough, these people are consistent! They consistently follow the same course.
What they don’t do is follow an established set of principles consistently. That’s why crash diets don’t work long term. Crash diets and quick fixes do not allow you to successfully establish a tenet to lose weight and never ever gain it back again.  But if you can nail down the rules you need to follow to lead a healthy lifestyle – and then tweak your eating and exercise plan according to your needs – food allergies, moral considerations, tastes, blood type, health restrictions, lifestyle, etc. –  your results will be extraordinary.
It’s not about the diet. It’s about the principles.
So I ask you, think about your fundamental principles for eating and exercise. Do you know what they are? Have you ever thought about it before? Can you share if you have a set of principles that have worked for you?  I’d love to hear back from you!