Compromise” is a dirty word. It reminds most of a person or corporation whose behavior has jeopardized their name. True success hinges on a core of standards and practices that are non-negotiable. They must be determined, defined, and defended, no matter the pressure of peers or the actions of competitors.

You may identify more than seven, but I see these 7 non-negotiables as a minimum:

1. Honesty.

At the end of the day honesty beats out every other policy. No matter the vision or invention, if your delivery isn’t totally honest, you’ll always fall short of your potential. Honesty never hides behind the counter—it’s upfront, facing traffic with accountability. It is the raw material of every successful endeavor.

2. Dependability.

Some things are known for their dependability. For example, Timex built its empire on a watch that “takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.” What facet of your life or work will have the same legendary dependability? If you promise it, deliver it. If you blow it, own it. Dependability is the engine of longevity.

3. Generosity.

Giving is a “given.” If you only know how to get, you’ll never know the joy of being a giver. Tight-fisted people or organizations have a rep that overshadows their profile. You can’t afford not to be involved in a community project. You can’t afford not to review your employee benefits. You can’t afford not to be generous.

4. Diversity.

Diversity is a growing concern, but it goes beyond the tone of one’s skin or the tenor of one’s beliefs. It allows for the weak along with the strong. It credits the worker along with the staff. And it rewards the effort along with the finish. It is a “United Nations” of the heart and mind.

5. Flexibility.

If you’re not willing to bend, you’ll probably break. The times change procedures as well as products. In reality, there is never “too much information”—especially as it relates to your life and work. Go after it! Flexibility frees you to discover new ways to wrap proven methods.

6. Creativity.

What’s your latest creation? You don’t have to be in fashion or the arts to answer. You can be in the plumbing and heating business and still be creative. For example, one plumbing company has recently introduced the “touchless toilet.” What next? Creativity must never be sacrificed on the altar of convenience.

7. Transparency.

Tipping over pedestals is a new sport. Social media is the new scandal mag. Perps are the new personalities. Anything short of a pre-determined and continual transparency just won’t cut it in today’s market. Get it right—and tell it like it is. You’ll feel better for it—and your customers will vote with their loyalties.

Keep your personal or business interests on the “up-and-up,” and you’ll stay in the “up-and-coming.”

— Stan Toler