Change is a universal constant. Civilizations have risen and fallen, the Wild West was tamed and populated. The model T Ford was mass produced and made an affordable means of transportation, refrigerators were invented and the ice box became history. Men traveled to the moon and back. Computers and the Internet shrunk the world. Moore’s Law promises even greater leaps in productivity, quality of life and unimagined changes.

Humans adapt well to change over the long term. The short term is another story. Many people exert a measure of effort and work to achieve a particular status, goal or outcome in life. When they arrive, they hold the belief that they have earned their way and now life owes them. They often become comfortable, content, relaxed, complacent … and stagnant. All the while, changes occur around them, slowly making their skills, competencies and value obsolete.

Others embrace change, race to be in front of the wave of innovation, and find energy and opportunity in their professional world of work. These two types of people differ in the way they respond to change. One person rests on his laurels, unconcerned with change, while the other exercises effective personal leadership to adapt to change.

Leadership Principles

According to the dictionary, “principles” are comprehensive and fundamental laws or rules. Researching leadership principles, I found that the Marine Corps had listed eleven. Other organizations had similar lists. Examining and comparing them, I discovered that effective leadership principles in the changing world are unchanging, as constant as the universality of change itself. People have been exercising effective leadership principles in a changing workplace since the dawn of time. Here are four timeless leadership principles I have identified.

1. Life Vision

Human beings are endowed with unlimited potential and greatness. However, they limit their development, what they enjoy and the success they achieve by what they learn and how they think about work and life. Ignorance is the enemy of the development and enjoyment of greater success. Overcoming ignorance is called self-development, personal growth, building personal leadership or developing mastery of life. This requires knowing yourself, seeking wisdom and creating a vision of what you can become. That vision is essential in breaking free from the circumstances and routines of life that trap many people. That vision must include embracing change.

2. Guiding Values

When you don’t know what you value, anything that comes along can catch your eye and divert you from your vision. Make a list of all those things that are important to you and narrow it down to a few core values. I found three foundational values that guide my work and life:

Integrity. Keep every commitment you make, including those you make to yourself. Be honest, honorable, truthful, self-disclosing, trustworthy and authentic.

Stewardship. Be responsible and accountable for every resource you manage. Be responsive and develop or grow as a person. Manage your money, time, attitude and the people in your life to achieve the very best results. Exercise courage and risk where it counts.

Love. Love is the greatest power in the universe. Love, accept and nurture yourself first; this equips you to love, serve and share with your fellow human beings. This means extending unconditional respect, dignity, and fairness to everyone. It’s about having gratitude, appreciation and awe for everything in your business and in life.

3. Purpose

Every person arrives on this earth to fulfill a specific purpose. That purpose is unique and essential to the proper functioning and evolution of life on the planet. Finding your unique purpose is critical to working with your natural gifts and competencies. If you discover your purpose, your work and life will become seamless and easy. Your life will be filled with joy and happiness, and you will naturally be steered to making the highest contribution.

4. Mission

What you do in your business and in life is called your mission. You fill certain roles, such as husband or wife, father or mother, provider for your family, homemaker, business-builder or leader, and in each role, you provide specific services. Looking over all the services you provide, you may find that some common themes emerge. Your mission may also include the quality of your services, such as the standard of “excellence.”

Put Them into Action

If you are clear about the vision for your life, you will develop more of your unlimited potential and greatness and serve your fellow human beings more effectively.

Identifying and knowing your guiding values helps you stay on course during your journey.

Getting in touch with your purpose gives you the big “why you exist.” Knowing that your journey has great meaning can fill you with enthusiasm and passion.

Becoming clear about your mission, including your work and life roles, the services you provide and the standards of your toil, makes your work and life meaningful and important, both to yourself and to others.

Embracing these leadership principles will equip you to adapt and even embrace the changes that are ever-present in and around you. Without this solid foundation of personal leadership, change becomes an obstacle to creating the life you were meant to live. Developing personal leadership skills and competencies will assure that you ride the wave of change and opportunity.

Embracing change, thriving on it and growing as a person will assure an exciting pro-fessional and personal life filled with joy, happiness and success.

JOE FARCHT is the founder and president of
Leadership Advantage, Inc. His purpose in life is to develop and
coach leaders to new levels of performance and success
in their work and life. He is the author of
Building Personal
Leadership: Inspirational Tools & Techniques for Work & Life.