The original Star Trek television series introduced a "prime directive" that was the guiding principle that grounded all of the adventures, explorations and encounters the characters had. However different the subsequent spin-offs of the original show were, that prime directive remained a constant through most of the different series.

The prime directive was that of "non interference" in the development and life paths of other beings and cultures that they encountered. It became a topic of discussion especially when tough decisions about survival had to be made.

Sometimes unsavory beings attempted to manipulate the characters or to gloat that they could get away with reprehensible conduct because the prime directive forbade the main characters from getting involved in situations.

Another familiar example that might come to mind when considering prime directives can be found in the story of Gone With the Wind. Scarlett O'Hara vowed that she would never be hungry again, regardless of what she had to do or sacrifice to achieve that. This was a goal that became the driving force in her life. Although it would seem that this was a "prime directive" that she embraced, in actuality it was not.

Goals are usually based on external circumstances that we want to manifest in our lives. One or more of the basic human needs of fun, freedom, power, belonging, or survival usually triggers them. For example, Scarlett O'Hara's goal of never being hungry again was based on survival and power.

We often determine our success or failure in life on whether we reach the goals we have set for ourselves, on our achievements. These are not prime directives. Prime directives are not manifested through our goals, but by how we go about achieving them.

Prime directives are not based on reactions to outer circumstances but on inner truths that we hold as guiding principles. They are usually simple and basic.

Each of us has a "prime directive" that we either sense or have determined and then embrace as the guiding principle for many of our actions and decisions. This prime directive is something that is unchanging within us regardless of the different adventures we have as we live our lives and grow as human beings.

When we take the time to determine what our prime directives or guiding principles are in life, it does not mean that some decisions will no longer be difficult. In fact, in some cases, they may appear to be more difficult, especially when we are confronted with people whose values are different from ours. We may have an overwhelming desire to impose our external values on others or judge others in terms of what we believe.

Our prime directives have to do with us and how we determine we will be and interact with the world around us. They are not intended as a basis for judgement of others but rather the basis of our own state of being.

If our prime directive is comprised of a state of being that is loving, compassionate, honest, fair, beneficial, forgiving, grateful, or of help then that is what we can use to guide our thoughts, words, and actions regardless of the situations in which we find ourselves.

Comparing our prime directive or state of being with what we believe is the prime directive for someone else is pointless. Often we base these comparisons on surface behavior rather than inner substance. Furthermore, comparisons are deceptive, serving only to distract us from our inner truth, personal dignity, integrity, and self-respect.

We have no idea whether or not another person has identified or operates from a prime directive or is reacting to situations and representations. We cannot crawl into someone else's brain or consciousness and think what they think, feel what they feel, or know what they know.

All we can do is remember our own prime directive and use that as a touch point, a grounding principle that is the basis of what we think, do, and say regardless of the actions of others. When we do this, we are being true to ourselves and keeping our personal power intact.

Some days it is easier to do this than others. We can become distracted by outer concerns and situations and human reactions to them, just as all human beings can be. Insight and awareness can help us remember that living our lives with dignity and respect, no exceptions, means that we are no better than anyone else but we are just as good.

Insight and awareness have to do with our inner truth, not with our goals or accomplishments but with our prime directive, a simple, timeless principle which guides us to being all that we are intended to be.

©2007 Gail Pursell Elliott All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Gail Pursell Elliott is founder of Innovations "Training With a Can-Do Attitude" TM, located in central Iowa, USA. Gail is a nationally recognized expert on mobbing and bullying in schools and workplaces and is author of the book School Mobbing and Emotional Abuse: See It – Stop It – Prevent It with Dignity and Respect; the weekly ezine Food for Thought, and is coauthor of the book Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace.
Learn more about Innovations Speaking, Training, and Consulting services or contact Gail through her website: