Choosing & Using Principles for Your Work

Ab Brightman
3 min readDec 12, 2018

Making choices at work, about how and what to do, is often more complex than simply weighing up the perceived social impact of both.

I started my full-time career in the charity sector at Student Hubs, so I was exposed early to a values-led workplace culture. I saw how they can help staff make decisions, shape programmes and evaluate their own performances in a practical way.

Now that I have my own venture I set myself three principles to work by. I wanted to share them with you for two reasons; not only so you can know what to expect from working with me, but also so that you might take inspiration for your own work. Scroll below the principles to see a process of how you can practically implement them, too.

1. Remove Complications.

Complications are draining for everyone involved, and ultimately get in the way of your wider goals.

Certainly we live in a complex world but if something within our own control can be more straightforward, let’s make it more straightforward.

2. Embrace Curiosity.

I think it’s fascinating how changing relatively small factors can influence how and how people engage with a training session, an email or even a conversation— and every day is an opportunity to make that engagement better and better, through curiosity and testing.

We live in a really exciting time where digital tools and real life observation give us instant results on most changes we make, and I believe we should be using those insights to innovate our practices rather than accepting the status quo.

3. Be Best Practice.

We are all role models for the people around us — be they friends, family, colleagues or supporters. I reflect a lot on my own behaviour and the work that I do; working to be the change I want to see in other people, and I really strive to surround myself with people and organisations who are a positive influence on me too.

Choosing Your Principles

Its really important to choose principles which both reflect your own personality and working preferences, as well as your ambition as to what makes socially impactful work. Working in line with your principles shouldn’t feel like a real challenge — instead it is an opportunity to be far more intentional of doubling down on your strengths and personal values.

Practical Implementation of Your Principles.

Once you’ve chosen principles that you’re proud of, then one really simple and effective method for using them in your work is to borrow a technique from life coaching called ‘the Wheel of Life’.

Example Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life asks users to segment the wheel into all the different aspects of their life. You can easily replace the areas of life in the above example with your new principles.

Then, for each principle (and I really recommend not having too many!) write around the edge of that segment what being 10/10 for that principle in your work would look like — the absolute ideal. Then, inside the wheel, score where you honestly feel you are for each principle. For example, maybe I would be a 7 for embracing curiosity, but a 4 for being better practice.

You can then shade in each of the segments, as in the example above, or join up the scores from each to create a polygon inside the wheel, just giving yourself a helpful visual representation of how you’re doing, too. Finally, using the points you’ve already written yourself for what 10/10 would look like, you should be able to write some action points for yourself of how to bridge the gap between where you are currently to that 10/10 vision.

Like I said, this is a super straightforward method and can be easily adapted to evaluating particular areas of your work, such as a current project or your communications, as well as yourself and fellow staff as a whole.

This is something which has really worked for me, so I would love to hear your own takes — in the comments below or just email!

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I help socially impactful organisations to be more innovative, develop engaging digital communications and to organise their volunteers. Visit my site to see how we could collaborate.