Principles, Beliefs and Carta Blanca Beers

OK. I had wanted to provide you with more details about our big trip out to West Texas, but something came up yesterday that I figure is more important than that. I was going to tell you about the infamous “Marfa Lights”, but I don’t have time here.

We went out at dusk one night and saw the mysterious lights and they were in a fine fettle for the hour we stayed. They were blinking and moving, and changing colors like crazy. Legend has it that they are unexplained by any scientific explanation, but I know what they are. The Chamber of Commerce there to Marfa pays illegal aliens to light farts as they scramble their way through the rocky foothills, heading north and east.

The reason you can’t see who does it is because you can never spot those crafty illegals, which also explains why the lights are moving around. As for the variations in color, those are caused by the variations of dietary habits of the gas lighters. I’m reasonably sure the green colored lights are from cilantro and the blue is garlic and onion gas.

I have absolute certainty about the blue gas fire.

But I can’t get into that now. This blogger posting is about the conversation I had to dinner yesterday with one of my business associates, a big landscape contractor and a great customer of Mooners Compost Plant. He buys truckloads of our products for his very prosperous business.

He is also a Deacon at his Baptist Church, the biggest one in Austin, and a very fine man. His company is populated with a hundred, or so, hard working and dedicated employees each of whom display the same honesty and integrity that this man shows to me. I will not mention his name because I said I wouldn’t.

He asked me to keep his name out of things because as he put it, he says to me, “Mooner, the only thing my wife and I ever argue about is my relationship with you.”

And, of course, he went on. “She can’t see through the thick veneer of your coarse language and inappropriate nature to the good man beneath, and she only sees how inappropriate you are. Why don’t you cuss less and try to be less ruthless about political and religious zealots?”

Then he added, “You will sell more books if you just tone down your rhetoric.”

If I was my Gram I would have said who gives a shit.

I said, “Who gives a shit? I’m doing all of this writing as my therapy and as a Public Service. Profits are secondary.”

Sometimes my Gram hits stuff spot on.

Our conversation for the next few minutes focused on what words I could use to express myself that would not be offensive or inappropriate. As an example, he had several interesting replacements for the word shit. Like “stuff” and “junk” and “garbage”.

I then did my best to get him to understand the nuances of language and communication, telling him that the reason people use specific words is because of just those nuances. We argued back and forth and he started getting a touch preachy at me and I decided to end this line of thought.

“OK, my little Baptist Deacon friend. You find me a word that completely replaces the word fuckballs, and I’ll never cuss again.”

He looked at me for maybe ten minutes without uttering a word. I could see the pain on his face as he saw the opportunity to save a heathen slipping from his grasp. He took his Blackberry from his pocket and loaded his thesaurus to the screen, this consuming another ten minutes of fevered thought.

“All right, Mooner, you win this one. But that isn’t what I wanted to discuss with you. My assistant was talking to yours the other day, and Gnat told her that your employee turnover rate is less than one percent per year for employees that have worked for you a full week, or more. That can’t be true.”

“Sure it is. Just like with you, people either love working for me, or hate it. The difference between the two of us is that I figure I owe it to the employee and myself to figure which it is, and fast. We make sure that new hires see eye-to-eye with our business Principles as fast as possible. If we agree, they stay almost forever. If not, ‘Adios and don’t look back.’”

He thought that over and then asked me, “But how do you do it? I run my entire business in the service of God and I manage my employees and my customers by the Golden Rule.” Then he thought to say, “Mooner, I never stray from my Christian Beliefs and my employees are the same.”

“And that, dear friend, is wherein lies the rub.” I went on, “I always run my business by my Principles and never by my Beliefs.” Maybe that should have been wherein the rub lies.

Now this statement dumbfounded him, so to give him a minute to think, I said, “I’m having another Carta Blanca- you want some more tea?” We were at the Rudy’s BBQ there to US 183 near Balcones Woods so I had to go get the drinks myself.

He didn’t want more tea and when I got back with my frosty cold beer he said, “Now that statement confounds me even further, Mooner. My Beliefs in God and the teachings of the Bible are as strong as any man has ever had. I never stray from those Beliefs. My Beliefs are are just as strong as your Principles.”

“It’s not the strength of your convictions that makes the difference, it is- and quite simply, the difference between Principles and Beliefs.” I tried to say this without any preachiness in my tone.

“Oh don’t lecture me Mooner, tell me what in the world you are saying.”

“OK,” I continued. “This is it in a nutshell. My Principles are things that I know to be true and correct ways to act and be and live my life. My Principles are from my experience and education. Your Beliefs are things that you think are true and correct because you have faith in them.”

Now, he has this look on his face like I just shit on his plate. Oh, sorry, he had a look like I had just junked on his plate.

He says, “But your Principles and my Beliefs are identical in so many ways, Mooner. How can your methods work better than mine?”

OK, dear readers, this last question opened a door between my good friend and customer and me. A door that usually remains tightly shut because people who live their lives as a 100% faith-based existence don’t want to hear philosophy from a heathen like me.

“Let me try to say it as simply as possible,” I started. “Some of your faith-based Beliefs have become your Principles because at some point in time- you came to know that they are true. Until you know that a Belief is true, your only justification to honor it is your faith. And since you and I were both raised as Baptist, I know that your faith is of the blind variety.”

I gathered some more thoughts and continued, “When I manage my business, and my life for that matter, when I determine what rules to hold myself and others accountable, I stop when I run out of Principles. I stop when my Principles run out because everything else is unprincipled.”

Oops- now he looks like I junked on his head.

“Are you telling me that I am unprincipled, Mooner?”

“No,” I told him. “But your management style becomes unprincipled as soon as you require other people to accept your faith-based Beliefs as their own.”

“Look,” I went on, “As people grow and mature, their beliefs grow and change. Some people become more religious and spiritual and some go the other way. Just like most people stop believing in Santa Claus, but some don’t.”

I gave him a second to catch up with me before going on. “So. My Aunt Hilda was raised in the Baptist church- she was a missionary to Africa for junk-sakes. But she still believes in Santa Claus. Where would that belong in the Mission Statement for your business?”

“Would she be a “no hire” at your place because she still thinks the jolly old elf drops the presents off for her and Woodrow, or can you and your employees all accept her with that small, but important difference in Beliefs?”

I was beginning to think I could wrap this up. “See, that is the problem when you manage based upon your Beliefs. You cannot compromise Principles but you must compromise Beliefs, because Beliefs are backed by varying levels and strengths of faith. If I know, for example, that I can walk through a burning building and I will come out the other side without a mark and holding a pot of gold- me, I’m walking.”

“But, if I think I can make it through to the other side and the reason I think it is because Pastor Browingwell and the Bible told me so…”

I stopped here with my explanation because my friend is a smart man.

When I rose to fetch another beer, I heard, “Fuckballs, Mooner.”

And my friend asked me to get two Carta Blancas while I was up.

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2 Responses to “Principles, Beliefs and Carta Blanca Beers”

  1. Hello everyone

    First of all sorry that I write in this topic but I have some technical problem with the use of this forum. When I’m trying to enter in the appropriate topic, I received a 404 error It’s about the only topic in which I was able to enter. Do you have the same problems? What’s going on?

  2. admin says:

    Cep. Sorry, but hackers have pushed me to have a difficult CAPTCHA program. I’m looking for something less difficult.

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