Paul B. Thornton

What are your core beliefs and values?  

You can’t manage or lead if you don’t know what you believe and stand for. It takes reflection and self-examination to identify your core beliefs and values.    

Some people post some of their core beliefs in their office. For example, W. Clement Stone began as a shoeshine boy and became a multimillionaire.  He credits his success to three words: Do It Now.  He required everyone who worked for him to write those words on index cards and post them in their work area.


Here are some additional examples of guiding principles people have or had in their office.

  • “It can be done!”—Sign President Ronald Reagan kept on his desk in the Oval Office.
  • “Attitude is everything!” —Sign in red letters on the desk of Carol Leary, Ph.D., former President, Bay Path University.
  • “Successful People are the Few Who Focus in and Follow Through” —Sign in the office of Stew Leonard, Jr., President, Stew Leonard’s Dairy. 
  • “Start Talking and Get to Work”—Sign in the office of Alden Davis, former Business Effectiveness Consultant, Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies Corporation.
  • “Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible”—Sign in the office of T. J. Rodgers, founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor.   
  • “Begin with the End in Mind.” Stephen Covey—Sign on the office wallof Chris Bartley, Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 
  • “Sleep your way to the top,” and “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor” (from Rumi)—Both quotes are on pillows in Arianna Huffington’s office at Thrive Global.
  • “Be Brief. Be Brilliant. Be Gone.”—Former sign on the office wall of Mark Goodman, CEO, Twist Image.
  • “Leaders are known for the questions they ask, not the answers they give.” —Sign on the office wall of Steve Arneson, Ph.D. when he worked at Capital One.
  • “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” John le Carré —Sign in the office of Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., former CEO of IBM. 
  • “Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your MOM proud.” —Plaque on the office wall of Ursula M. Burns, former CEO Xerox.
  • “The time is always right to do what is right. Martin Luther King Jr. —Sign on the office wall of Michael Jansma, President 
  • “Leaders should be able to Stand Alone, Take the Heat, Bear the Pain, Tell the Truth, and Do What’s Right.” Max DePree —Sign in the office of Brian Morehouse, coach of women’s basketball at Hope College, 2006 Division III National Champions.

What would you post on your office wall?

Defining Moments

Here’s the test. Will you speak up or remain silent? 

Defining moments are important situations that test your commitment to your core beliefs and values. They require you to take a stand on difficult and controversial issues. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

What you do or don’t do in these critical moments reveals your character and credibility.    


Identify your core beliefs and post them on your office wall. They will serve as guiding principles to help you say and do what’s needed.   


Paul B. Thornton is an author and speaker. His latest e-books include:

  • Leadership-Perfecting Your Approach and Style-($1.99) Amazon Kindle. 
  • Leadership Case Studies-($4.99) Amazon Kindle.

Paul has produced 28 short YouTube videos on various management and leadership topics. In addition, he frequently posts his views and opinions about leadership on Linked-In.  

He can be contacted at pbthornton67@gmail-com