What are The Four Principles of Purposeful Action?

The Four Principles form the foundation for all Purposeful Actions:

Watch Video: How to Apply the Four Principles – Part I.

In the metaphoric Brook of Life, the Four Principles of Purposeful Action are presented as a journey in the brook, or river, by:

  • boat of the navigator (the Body)
  • oars to balance the boat (the Mind)
  • currents in the waters (the Spirit)
  • other navigators and ships (the Universe)

Read on, for more on the Four Principles of Purposeful Action.

First Principle: Act with Purpose – Pursue Your Journey with Purposeful Action

Nothing worthwhile happens without purposeful action, in personal or profession life, or in organizations.

boat1aIn the metaphor of the Brook, action is represented by the boat of the navigator, and is the means by which change comes about. Without the flow of water there is no brook, and without the flow of actions, there is no life, whether it be personal life of the life of an organization.

nexusdarkerfontcoverAn action is purposeful when it is driven by commitment to a mission that serves others. In other words, purposeful actions provide value to others and serve others as opposed to just serving self.

The 12-Step Framework for Purposeful Action covers the First Principle of Purposeful Action. These steps were developed by dissecting action into twelve distinct components and then organizing them into Three Phases:

  • Phase I: Determining the mission for action and committing to it.
  • Phase II: Performing the action effectively and efficiently.
  • Phase III: Assessing and renewing the action.

Second Principle: Balance Your Actions With Ethics – Your Core Values Determine Your Ethical Balance

Values determine ethical balance. With a foundation built on positive core values, action will be purposeful and the result will be of service to others. If actions are driven by negative core values, the result will be harmful to self and others. It also can lead to disaster for those involved.

boat2aIn the metaphor of the Brook, the navigator uses the oars to balance the boat. This balance represents the challenge we all face to balance our actions (boat) with ethics (oars). The oars represent the opposing two sets of core values. These values determine ethical balance of the individual or the organization. The two opposing banks (the shore of the givers and the shore of the takers) of the river also represent these opposing sets of values. Ethical balance determines the degree to which individuals or organizations behave (act) as Givers or Takers.

The Five Positive Core Values – The Values of Giving:

  • Integrity — Truth, trustworthiness and dependability.
  • Commitment — Dedication, focus, caring, consideration and love.
  • Persistence — Staying the course, faithfulness and “stick-with-it-ness.”
  • Teamwork — Universality and commonality of all individuals and organizations.
  • Communication — Sharing, empathy and being open and forthright.

The Five Negative Core Values – The Values of Taking:

  • Lust — Intense desire for physical or material gratification.
  • Anger — Rage and uncontrolled urges for revenge and destruction.
  • Greed — Desire to take all one can, with no satisfaction in sight.
  • Attachment — Possessiveness and focus on ownership by “me” and “mine.”
  • Arrogance — Feeling self is the “greatest” and all others must serve ones wants.

Third Principle: Manage Your Desires – Your Desires Motivate your Actions

Actions are driven or motivated by the desires. You might ask, “do desires apply to organizations?” So, ask yourself,  who determines what the organization stands for? Surely, individuals do that, even if the few choose the actions that drive the many.

Desires gain expressed through beliefs or values. Values in turn determine the ethical balance of the individual or the organization. The ethical balance, or value system, of an organization generally is expressed in terms of a set of ethical guidelines. These guidelines could either be implied of documented as a code of conduct or operating guidelines. The degree to which these guidelines are applied when making decisions to act, determines the ethical course of the individual or organization — or whether it is purposeful or not.

Watch Video: How to Apply the Four Principles – Part II.


In the metaphor of the Brook, desires are represented by the currents in the waters and transmitted to your mind through your senses. Here the currents are shown through the reflections of the navigator and the boat.

Your growth towards success and fulfillment is determined by the desires that drive your actions and form your values. The key to leadership success and fulfillment of the leader’s vision is found in the levels of desires that motivate the leader.

cover_ebookFollowing ancient eastern wisdom, the Four Levels of Desire that drive motivation in individuals as well as organizations, are:

  • lust and survival
  • wealth and reputation
  • service and obligations
  • detachment and freedom.

The first two levels of desire promote taking. This leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. In corporations, these desires can lead to corruption and failure The second two levels of desire foster giving, and pave the way for a healthy corporate environment. This leads to success with satisfaction for all stakeholders. Leaders who are driven by the desire of giving are effective Servant Leaders.

Fourth Principle: Understand and Relate with Others – The Actions of Others Affect You

You are not in it alone. We’re all in it together. Your vision and actions affect others and they in turn affect you and your organization. The vision of a leader can can be transformed into reality only if it is shared by others. In other words, for a vision to materialize, all those associated with the transformation process must be committed to achieving the vision.

boat4aIn the metaphor of the Brook, every journey is affected by the actions of the navigator as well by the actions of other travelers in the waters, so you must learn how to relate with them. In practice, every journey also is affected by the environment and all changes that are experienced during the course of travel. This principle applies to individuals as well as organizations, since all entities are comprised of individuals.

Your life is influenced by the actions of others. The characteristics of most organizations and individuals can be found Eight Archetypes. These are organized into Six Business Archetypes and Two Grand Archetypes. Here are the Six Business Archetypes:

  • leader
  • entrepreneur
  • manager
  • consultant
  • trustee
  • intellectual

Understanding the attributes of these six will help you deal with them effectively. An accomplished navigator can assume the archetype needed at any time.

The two Grand Archetypes, Givers and Takers, represent the ethical balance of the individual or organization.

brookmastericonThe BrookMaster Self-Assessment and Leadership Coaching game utilizes the four principles, and the archetypes, to help you become a more effective leader, entrepreneur or manager or other archetype of your choice. BrookMaster also predicts your ethical balance score in terms of the Grand Archetypes. The actions of each archetypes affect and influence the other archetypes. Thus, the decisions you make depend to a large degree on the types of archetypes (people) that surround you. If you know the archetypes of these people, and have an idea of how they might behave, archetypes, it will be easier for you to relate to them and lead your team to success.

The ability to transform into the an archetype of choice, dictated by the situation, makes a leader agile and indispensable.

Discover your own Archetypal Balance with this free App: BrookMaster

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