“Pain + Reflection = Progress.” -Ray Dalio
Legendary hedge fund investor, Ray Dalio, swears by his principles. By knowing and writing them down. By constantly examining and refining them. He credits this act for his success and advises others to do the same. He even wrote a book about it.
The Stoics actually argued about the necessity of principles. What they termed “precepts.” Some like Aristo thought it a giant waste of time to write these down. He argued that a person should just instinctively know what the right thing was to do in any situation. Others like Zeno and Seneca countered that life was complicated and taxing. Situations would arise that would test us, that called for nuance, and it was important to know our principles so as to make the right decision in those difficult moments.
When you do hard things, when you make art, you will be tested. Constantly. Tough decisions will be required. You will second guess yourself. That’s part of the price to pay for leading.
Having principles you live by can help making those decisions a little easier. As well as being committed to doing your absolute best for the project and the people involved. To always have everyone’s best interest at heart.
When you make mistakes–and you will, lots of them–reflect on them. Learn from them. You’ll sharpen your principles and be that much better equipped for the next project.