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Jan 14, 2021

Guiding Principles & Heroes

I thoroughly enjoy discussing philosophical questions among good friends. A spirited debate with different perspectives almost always deepens my understanding of a subject. So here we go. Would you rather be liked or respected? Naturally, the majority of respondents say, “Both.” When asked to rank them, once again the majority of respondents say, “Respect is #1 and Liked is #2.”. However, the discussion surely intensifies when respondents are asked, “Do you live that way?”

As some of you know, I retired after 34 years on Wall Street. Rarely did a day go by when I didn’t think about my guiding principles. In fact, I have them taped to the inside of my wardrobe closet so I could read them each morning before heading off to the office. My principles are constantly evolving and come from a wide range of thinkers, from the countercultural comedian, George Carlin to the Greek philosophers, Aristotle and Socrates.

What about heroes? When I was a teenager, I had posters of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones on my bedroom wall. History may or may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme. Now inside my closet, I have pictures of Abe Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt. The rock stars of my youth played great music, but the heroes I admire now inspire me to be a better person.

God knows I’m an imperfect human being and have made my mistakes over the years. What’s important, however, is having a set of principles upon which we believe is the right way to live – personally and professionally. Principled professionals in every business (Wall Street, Law, Education, Medicine, Government, etc.) are needed now more than ever! Take the risk and find someone you respect and ask them, “Would you rather be liked or respected?” Regardless of their answer, it’s an icebreaker to have a thoughtful discussion about the importance of guiding principles.

Paul Sullivan
Founder and Managing Partner
Wealth Management Independence