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Our personal compass is the warning system that signals how congruent our actions are with our principles.  When what we’re doing is incongruent it lets us know we’re on the wrong path.

Regardless of where we are on our executive journeys – at the beginning of our career, a CEO of a Fortune 100 company, or an entrepreneur who has enjoyed success by building her own company – taking the time to review our principles is a method of ensuring our compass is calibrated when we prepare for the next stage of success.

Conducting this type of review is extremely personal and nothing we need to share with anyone.  It’s a powerful tool to use when starting a new project or making a career changing decision.

The press constantly reports on business people who were at the top of their game who have lost everything in a scandal.  In some cases the person was backed into a corner and made a decision they justified based upon what they believed to be a necessity – followed by a slide down that slippery slope that leads to catastrophe.  In other cases, they may have lost connection to or just ignored their personal compass.

When we take the time to review our principles it strengthens our resolve not to violate them when they’re tested – and they will be tested.   The great part is that just the process of reviewing them resets your personal compass.  You can tell you’re on point by how you feel about what you’re doing.

Our personal compass signals us when we’re not honoring a personal principle by sending us a warning.  For me that’s typically a feeling in the pit of my stomach that lets me know what I’m about to do is against my principles.  Experience has taught me, as I’m sure it has you, that when I don’t pay attention to that feeling it’s a mistake.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.  Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released in early 2017.