Principle Matters

Choose Your Principles Over Your Paycheck

Don’t let fear of being terminated from your job result in you surrendering your principles.  Some people are willing to capitulate who they are just to keep their paycheck.  While it’s a reality that you need a paycheck to survive, there are other employers who can supply you with a paycheck than the employer who currently does.  I have witnessed too many individuals who will do the wrong things just to be viewed as doing the right things in eyes of their supervisors.  While there is certainly nothing wrong with treating your supervisor with respect, he or she is not your master.

Too many people are allowing themselves to be enslaved by their supervisors.  When one relies too heavily upon capitalist ideology without engaging in critical thinking, the individual will begin to view himself or herself as being powerless at his or her place of employment.  The individual will feel that what one’s supervisor says must be done—no matter how wrong it is.

If your supervisor is mistreating you and/or requiring you to do something that the law safeguards you from, you don’t have to accept what your supervisor is doing to you.  The law is on your side against reckless supervisors who abuse their power.

Stop running around kissing your supervisor’s butt!

When you let someone take advantage of you all of the time, he or she will continue to take advantage of you.  It’s up to you to break this cycle.  People think that when they run around and kiss their supervisor’s butt their supervisor is going to appreciate them more—that’s foolishness!  Wake up!  If you’ve been doing great work for a long time and your supervisor does not already appreciate you, what makes you think kissing his or her butt is going to make him or her appreciate you?

What you say matters.  Therefore, stop calling your supervisor “boss.”  Your supervisor is not your ruler—he or she just gives you a paycheck.  You’re a liberated American who does not have to dance to the tune of your supervisor.  When they made one job, they made another one.  When they made one paycheck, they made another one.  Remember this the next time you find yourself acting all fake around your supervisor.

When you don’t like something that your supervisor says or does, then let him or her know it.  Too many people just fuss about their mistreatment at their jobs at their kitchen tables, but they are unwilling to make the public aware of the injustices that take place in the workplace.  What you say at your kitchen table is not going to matter if it’s not concatenated with meaningful action.

Be willing to give up your supervisor and not your principles.  Principles matter!  If you will allow your supervisor to say and do anything just to keep a paycheck, then you’re making it easy for your employer to exploit you.  People who are principled individuals will not willingly accept exploitation.  They vehemently fight exploitation, especially from those who are in positions of power.

Your values and beliefs that define you are more important than the paycheck you’re currently receiving.  You can get another job.  You didn’t have a job before you got your current one.  While I can understand for those of you who live from paycheck to paycheck can believe that receiving your paycheck is a matter of survival, I encourage you to look for potential employment elsewhere and consider ways you can advance yourself, including furthering your education, to significantly diminish your worries about losing your current job.

Don’t be a prostitute for your employer!

If your supervisor extends a contract to you that has a stipulation in it that tramples your constitutional rights, don’t be a fool and accept that contract as is.  If you’re going to accept the contract, indicate that your signature does not represent a relinquishing of any safeguards guaranteed by the Constitution.  Your life is more valuable than any paycheck.

Of course, I’m not advocating for you to be a reckless person at your job who is rude to everyone for no reason.  However, when your supervisor is not being fair to you, don’t accept this inequity just to keep your paycheck coming in without any problems.  When your supervisor feels like he or she can do anything to you, your paycheck is not safe in the first place.  Therefore, you need to be proactive to not only protect your paycheck but also to protect your principles.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Burn Some Bridges

It has often been passed down from one generation to the next the belief that one should not burn bridges because once you burn bridges you can no longer cross them.  While this is good advice in general, there are some bridges you need to burn.  As many of us know, the word bridges is often used metaphorically to refer to people who have and/or can benefit you.  If you’re a principled person, then you’re not going to stay beholden to a person who has done you wrong, even if that person offers you great benefits and has a strong network of connections to extend to you.  When someone, including a parent or grandparent, wants you stay on the good side of someone just because of the benefits he or she can and/or do offer you, then you need to let that person know that you’re not willing to sacrifice your principle and who you really are just to keep getting benefits from a person.  Your parents and grandparents are not important enough to allow them to sacrifice your principles and character.

While one should not feel like he or she cannot obtain good advice from people, this does not mean all “good advice” is right for you.  Sometimes “good advice” is right for many people but it may not be right for you.  People who are perceived to be good for everyone they are around may not be good for you.

Always do what’s best for you.  Always be willing to disassociate from anyone who does not inspire the best in you.

If someone constantly weighs you down, then this person is not good for you, even if this person has some positive benefits to offer you.  You have to understand that the people around you can offer you positive benefits, but you must seriously weigh and consider the costs of those benefits.  Are those benefits more costly than they are positive?

Do you continue to associate with some people just because you don’t think you can make it without them?  If so, how important is being a principled person to you?  You cannot be a truly principled person when you’re willing to do anything to stay on the “good side” of people to keep reaping benefits from them.

Are you willing to do anything to keep your employer happy?  Are you willing to deny who you are to keep your job?  If you are, never claim to be a leader and one who keeps it real.

Some “wisdom,” not all, that has been passed down from your parents and grandparents is not an apt fit for our postmodern epoch and, more importantly, it’s not wisdom at all for you and who you really are.

In no way does this piece assert that you need to walk around and pretend that you don’t need anyone.  This piece also does not contend that you should go around severing ties with people without a clearly defined purpose.  However, don’t let “good advice” and people own you.  This article seeks to communicate a great concern with the “wisdom” of “don’t burn bridges.”  If people don’t apply the wisdom of this concept appropriately, then it can turn them into slaves of ideas, people, and organizations.  If a bridge will easily collapse on you, then you don’t need to remain on and around that bridge anyway.  Surround yourself with bridges that will be there to support you even when things are going tough.

Burn those bridges that are not dependable and that are mere illusions of bridges.

Of course, don’t forget the bridges that brought you over.  This piece wants you not to forget them for a reason that is not traditionally passed down to you:  Don’t forget those bridges because you need to assess the past and present ones so that you know which ones to burn, which ones to keep, and which ones to never cross in the future.

Never let anything and anybody stand between you and your principles, even if it’s a “bridge.”

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison