I’ve gone through quite a few exercises of writing up principles over the last years, for various collective contexts. It occurred to me recently that I had never taken the time to write down and codify my own personal principles. I want to put these out there as a sort of bat-signal for aligned people, and to hopefully motivate others to communicate their principles as well. Furthermore, it’s become clear for me that when I have to compromise my principles to conform to an environment, I become discontent. I want to work with other people, and I want to stay in integrity with my own values. Hence, this page.
It gave me immense joy to write these down on paper, and it feels similar to know someone might stumble on this and feel resonance. I look forward to refining these on further reflection and conversation. If anything stands out to you, please let me know.
Leadership is a behavior, not a title or role. Each of us has the capacity to lead, and I believe our society needs to be led by those who are typically in the back — at least occasionally. I thrive in organizations where my leadership is earned not by clout or politick, but rather the merit of what I have to say as a leader. And I believe every leader (including myself) has the responsibility to step back and make space for someone else. When this works, it creates the most inclusive spaces I’ve ever seen.
Boundaries are important — I don’t share everything with everyone. But I do believe that being honest is a worthwhile practice. I strive to be clear about my intentions, explicit about both good and bad feelings I experience, and available to hold space for what is real in another person. This takes a lot of work, and can be really scary, but I have almost never regretting opening myself up to another person. Transparency breeds vulnerability and wholeness, which in turn breeds care. And nothing is more fulfilling to me than caring for and being cared for by others.
meet people where they are
aka Come as you are!
It’s not always obvious what someone has going on in the interior. We’re diverse in a multitude of ways, and some of us have a way harder time walking in our own skin than others. So — when I have the resources to do this — it’s important to me to understand what someone brings to an interaction or group dynamic. If I’m in a position to make a space more accessible for others, I try to do that. And this gives me permission to ask others to accommodate me when I need it. To me, mutually meeting one another paves the way for interdependence.
I love to play, and I feel most tapped into this when I’m making mischief. I grew up with a few cultural examples of mischief-makers, and through their irreverence, they challenged implicit hierarchies and norms, brought important (and sometimes taboo) topics to the surface, and importantly, made people laugh! I’ve been finding it easy to forget that making mischief makes me feel alive, so it’s written out here as a reminder, an intention to celebrate this as essential. I am happiest when I can see the light in other people’s eyes.
Aesthetics are important. Beauty isn’t just about what we find visually appealing — in fact I don’t think much of “what society considers beautiful” matters at all. But we all have been touched with moments where we feel in awe, frisson, moved, etc. Whatever word for it resonates, I find this experience of transcendence to be among the most fulfilling I’ve had as a human. I think our world is better when more of us aim our attention towards creating and appreciating beauty, even the latent beauty of what stands directly in front of us. Getting in touch with the beauty of the other helps me be present with the beauty that’s inherent in myself.
love is universal, love is work
We all have the capacity to experience and to give love. Not all love I experience is equal: I might love a partner differently from a parent, a friend, or someone I just met. But as a vessel for love and connection, I believe it’s both my responsibility and my right to act with love towards those around me. Love isn’t just something that happens to me, it’s something I create in the various relationships I live in my life. Sometimes this looks like quality time, shared laughter or creativity, or physical contact. Sometimes it looks like having a hard conversation, taking a break, or showing accountability and making amends. Love will always be the most important result of my labor and presence.