Principles - What are they?

A principle is a guide for behavior or action, which helps you make better decisions.

It can be a: belief, idea, rule, theory, fundamental truth, or law.

They are programs for your mind. Taking thoughts as inputs - modifying them - outputting behaviors and actions.

You can filter your thoughts through one principle or many.

Encoding your behavior in principles is much like an algorithm that's always available to you.

Once you've collected enough principles, you can run your decision-making process through them. Offloading your decisions into logical steps.

It is a bottom-up approach to decision-making.

Decisions made through principles are called "principled behavior."

The primary difference between principled behavior and non-principled behavior is that the action or behavior results from a principle. Whereas with non-principled, the action or behavior doesn't and is usually imprecisely rationalized after the fact.


non-principled: We need to rewrite our app in the newest popular framework because everybody will be using it soon. 2 years feels like the right sort of time for a rewrite, anyway.

principled: Our application has separated core logic from the framework; we can adopt a new framework if it serves us without rewriting the app. We will always be able to hire people who know fundamentals.


non-principled: I need to put pressure on my team to deliver more and stop focusing on quality. Otherwise, we might not get MVP.

principled: We have decided to build up technical debt before product-market fit. We are in the MVP stage of our application, and we aren't sure what we're building is suitable.

Next: Read about the benefits of principles