Finding the right answers to our problems requires us to shake them around until the fundamental principle falls out. Once we know the fundamental principle, then we start finding the right answers. A recent car purchase by our high school son was an opportune time to exercise the finding the fundamental principle concept.

I think my wife wanted the hot sports car more than our son. I had to admit, a sexy little two-door convertible looked pretty good on my beautiful wife.  I could see her cruising down the road with the top down, her hair blowing in the wind, and singing Cruise with the Georgia County Line. We would have had to buy him another car because I was certain she was going to keep the sports car to herself.

The dilemma was this; we could get a much nicer, five-year newer, fifty-thousand-miles-less car with another 50,000 miles left on the warranty.

Oh, the agony: a sexy older car with 100K or newer sedan with 50K and a warranty?  Since our son had his own cash to help buy the car, the decision fell on him.

It was a no-brainer for me, but I’m not a high school senior. However, his question was this: a fancy sports car that makes him look cool or a financially much better deal?

It was a great opportunity to work him thru my find the fundamental principle concept that I have taught all of my children: if you can’t figure sometime out, start breaking it all down to answer this question; what is the fundamental principle.  Quite often we get lost because we’re finding answers to the wrong questions. However, forcing ourselves to break it down helps us see clearly the path to the right decision.

Whether you’re buying a new car, trying to determine what’s wrong and what’s right with an organization, or making decisions about the path your are personally or professionally taking, there’s a way to find the fundamental principle.

Here’s how  you sort it out to find the fundamental principle:

    •  Keep asking questions until the fundamental principle becomes clear
    • Ask others to help you ask the right questions
    • Step outside the question and give yourself advice like you were talking to someone else
    • What core value in your belief system needs to be front and center to make the decision?
      • Financial?
      • Image?
      • Peer pressure?
      • Practical?
      • Duty?

When you figure out what the basic question is and what core value you have inside of you that is driving that decision or explanation, then you can move forward with greater clarity.

Then you can complete these sentences:

    • I am making this decision because (this fundamental principle) is driving my decision
    • I am taking this path because (this fundamental principle) is going to guide me down this fork in the road.
    • We are having this problem because (this fundamental principle) is being compromised.

Good leaders help people wade through the confusion and settle on the fundamental principle. And when you identify the problem, then you can identify the solution.

There is an old proverb that says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” That often assumes vision means to look into the future. I beg to differ; I think vision is sometimes to look in the middle of the chaos and find the fundamental principle.

Oh, by the way, he chose the newer car. It seemed a solid financial decision was much better for him than looking cool with the top down.

But I can already tell you what my wife’s next car is going to be!