What Do You Stand For?
Something I had never determined for myself that I felt was important was: what do I stand for? Deciding what you stand for and what you will not stand for is the next step after taking an inventory of your beliefs and recognizing what you believe.
Why take a stand? There’s a saying: If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. When faced with an ethical challenge, what criteria do you apply to it in order to decide how you will act? How do you make any kind of real difference in the world? You have to know what you stand for.
Clear Path and Difficult Times
Knowing what you stand for makes your choices in life easier to decide, but not easier to live with. It is surprisingly difficult to determine what you stand for, because it’s easy to confuse this with beliefs and desires (that’s why you have to know what you believe before you know how you stand). Taking a stand means you have to defend it (sometimes against yourself). Your path is often clear, even though it may be difficult.
Hypocrisy and Action
Standing for something means you have to act. You cannot claim to stand for something and then fail to act. There is an immense difference between just agreeing with an idea and standing for something.
Because you are acting in agreement with your stance, events are put in motion that move you closer to your goals (sorry, no law of attraction bullshit here!). What is the difference is between someone who agrees with an idea and someone who has taken a stand? Action.
Enemies and Confrontation
Taking a stand means you will make enemies and force confrontation. This makes people so uncomfortable that they never take a stand on anything. They just drift through life avoiding all confrontation and action which would propel them towards true success. This is insidious because it’s so easy to fail to see this for what it is: hidden fear. Fear you don’t acknowledge in yourself.
If you don’t take a stand, you don’t give other people a reason to act against you (you also don’t give them a very strong reason to like you). When you do take a stand, others who have taken an opposing stand will act against you. You will have enemies. It’s been said that if you don’t have enemies, you’re not doing anything noteworthy. If you examine any great person, past or present, you will see that they all have one thing in common: they had enemies.
But most people are so afraid of confrontation that they will run from your stance. They may dislike you because your beliefs conflict with theirs, but they’re not invested enough in themselves to take a stand against you. Being willing to confront–and being known as willing to confront–gets obstacles out of your way.
I’m not saying you should be confrontational. Note the difference: when you stand for something, you’re willing to confront others in order to fight for what you stand for (or fight against what you stand against). When you’re just confrontational, you’re a boor. I’m not talking about being a troll. This isn’t about disrespecting, insulting, or being rude.
Respect and Trust
You will earn respect and trust if you take a stand. This is the other side to creating enemies. Taking a stand means you will draw people to you. Those who agree with your stand will be more likely to trust in you. They will respect you. They will even come to bat for you and defend you. In many cases, even your enemies will respect you, and will trust you to act in agreement with your stance.
By taking a stand, you are polarizing your audience. Polarization attracts some people and repels others. The internet is big enough to build a large, strong audience no matter your stance.
What I Stand For
I can hear you thinking, “That’s great Michael, but anybody could talk out of their ass and say stuff like this. What do YOU stand for.” How do I know you’re thinking that? Like I said yesterday: magic powers.
So here’s what I stand for:
Liberty and capitalism. Even though I may not have just come out and said it, some of you who follow me on Twitter probably haven’t failed to notice I lean a bit to the left in some ways, but not others. It isn’t liberalism, but liberty I stand for. And that means liberty from anyone else’s morals or social values, as well as liberty from economic or physical oppression.
With that liberty, I want to do my own thing unapologetically and make money. I stand for liberty and against restrictions on liberty of any kind, no matter what political party or belief system they come from.
Creating Opportunity. My idea of liberty in action in daily life is that it gives us the freedom to give and take opportunities. How do opportunities come to exist in the world? By people creating them. Lately I’ve created opportunities here for you to get more blog traffic and get more Twitter followers. I stand for creating opportunity, and I stand against those who would restrict opportunity.
Compassion and kindness. Capitalism is not exploitation or harm. It is simply an economic enterprise framework. All of the evil in the world can be prevented when people remember to be compassionate and kind. This is never a system failure, but always a human one. It takes great strength to be compassionate and kind, and like everyone else I can’t always live up to it, but I stand for compassion and kindness, and this guides my actions.
Creative expression and art. Out of liberty and compassion comes an appreciation for beauty and creative expression. So I also stand for art and all manner of creative expression. I stand against the restriction of creative expression and art. I stand against the decimation of art in the public sphere.
How to Know What You Stand For
So now I ask again: what do you stand for? Do you know? If you haven’t written it down in black and white, you don’t really know, because your thoughts are more vague than you realize. If you took a belief inventory from yesterday’s post, then you will avoid the problem of getting your stances confused with your beliefs. Remember: beliefs come first, and they’re how you know what to stand for (and against).
Write down what you stand for, and be prepared to have to live to it. Because if you can’t live up to what you say you stand for… then I don’t think you really stand for it. There are life-changing consequences to this. I’m feeling that already, and I’ve barely begun.