“There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.”
With this sentence, Jane Philpott, Treasury Board President of the Canada government closed the message in which she announced her resignation.
This message struck me because yesterday night I was reflecting about another, more famous, quote.
“If a man hasn’t found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
Albeit I love this quote, it always makes me feel a little uncomfortable.
Martin Luther King was fighting for a high but dangerous cause. A cause that was going to change the world, or at least his country, forever. He was aware of the risks of pursuing his vision and, in the end, he died for it.
But, how does it apply to me?
Since yesterday, I’ve been pondering on this question.
Nothing I do is putting my life at stake.
Sure, I have my values and principles on which I’m not willing to compromise, but saying that it’s something I would die for seams a bit of stretch.
Then, this morning I was reading this article about the political crisis in Canada, and I found that sentence. And it hit me.
If I abstract MLK’s message from his historical context then “to die for” means “to give up everything”, including that same thing you are fighting for.
The question then becomes “what are you willing to sacrifice your career for?” or “what are you willing to let your company die for?”.
These are questions I can work with.