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  • Writer's pictureStephen Williams

Principles before Position

Why do we react the way we do to our circumstances, our interactions or even the daily news? Why does the same set of factual information mean something so differently to you than it does others? Short answer – Principles. What are your principles? How did you get your Principles? Where did you get them?

We don’t ask our clients to do anything we don’t demand of our team at Foxtrot. Every single day, we turn the inquiry on ourselves. What are our Principles at Foxtrot Family Law? Where did Foxtrot get them?

Foxtrot Family Law is a diverse organization. A significant portion of our team are conservative; others are more progressive. We take our workplace culture very seriously, and we know that our mode of operating together as we guide and advocate for the committed parents and caring relatives we represent in Child Custody cases is not for everyone.

That said, a culture is very different than a cult.

The way we avoid a stifling or hollow intellectual environment is to discuss why we take the positions we do in work and life. We are intentional. The goal is to get to and identify the specific principle, or at least the very few principles*, that inform and motivate our subsequent positions and actions. We’re not even done then. We then talk about where we get those principles. Have we developed a unique worldview based on our education and experience or are we regurgitating the last thing we heard on talk radio or info-tainment news?

(* I do contend that having more than a few principles, much like priorities, is to have none at all.)

Many of our prospective clients come in “wanting” this or that when it comes to his or her Child Custody case. Our job is not only to identify that specific goal or position but to clarify that goal and make sure the connection to a foundational principle is clear. In lay parlance, we have to cut through the bullshit.

From a practical perspective, once we identify the principle or principles at play, we can gauge how well our positions, policies and principles serve those foundational principles and the principles of our clients. Asking yourself, “is this consistent with what’s most important to me?” is extremely helpful, but if you haven’t taken the time to reflect on what you believe and why you believe it, it can be a very difficult question. That difficulty, unfortunately, can and does motivate many to take the easy way out and simply parrot the position and arguments that make them comfortable. Comfort, though, can be dangerous.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Ask yourself tough questions. Or, better yet, work with a pastor, counselor, coach, doctor or lawyer who has the objectivity, experience and ability to ask you and press you on tough questions you can’t or don’t even know to ask yourself.

Understand, if your favorite flavor of ice cream is butter pecan (your position), that explaining your preference for salty, sweet and creamy (your principle) is never going to convince someone who prefers the tart flavor and icy texture (their principle) of lemon-raspberry sorbet (their position) that he or she is wrong and that you are right.

Save yourself the time and energy, close the app, put down your phone and read a book to your child, no matter how old they are. Help them develop principles of their own. Then test those principles. They won’t do things because you said so but they will adhere to and exhibit beliefs they hold dear themselves. Trees bear fruit. Don’t hand them fruit and expect trees to grow out of it. In the long run, hat makes your life easier and their lives infinitely better.

Just make sure you turn the same magnifying glass on yourself and that you’re not walking around scoring quick dopamine hits by zinging the Other Side with the last “good point” you heard on Fox or MSNBC. “Butter pecan ice cream has failed to exhibit anything resembling a tart flavor and icy texture and is wholly unqualified as an afternoon treat.” Please, think about where you’re getting this stuff.

You didn’t buy your baby’s car seat at a yard sale, so don’t buy your Principles from a talking head.

If you’d like to learn more about our Principles here at Foxtrot and how we apply them and execute on them to help Committed Parents and Caring Relatives protect and connect with their children in Custody and Visitation cases, visit to review open times to schedule your consultation or Contact Us directly. ~SW, Foxtrot

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