Rosa Parks Principle

December 1, 1955. Rosa Parks got on the Montgomery City bus around 6pm after a full day of work. She sat down on the first row of seats in the “colored” section. After three more stops all the “white-only” seats were full. So, the driver moved the “colored section” sign back one row, behind Mrs. Parks. He told the passengers in this row to move back because they were in the white section now. The other three moved. Rosa Parks did not.

The driver asked if she was going to move. She said, “No, I’m not.”
He said, “If you don’t, I’m going to call the police to come arrest you.”
She said, “You may do that.”
She was arrested that day and became a champion of civil rights.

What did Rosa Parks do that made her a hero? She sat down and nothing else. She said, “no.”

The Rosa Parks Principle, for life and leadership, is sometimes the best thing to do is nothing and the right thing to say is no.

Listen, I’m not saying don’t do anything. Mrs. Parks worked that day. I am saying sometimes when our work is done, it’s right to do nothing more. When other people try to move the line and make you feel more is required it’s okay to say, “No.”

The right way to live is to make sure our work is done with excellence, our families receive all the care they need to thrive emotionally/spiritually/physically, and we do as much good as we can for our communities. All three are equally necessary for a proper life. If we feel this is impossible, it is because other people moved the line of what is expected of us, and we allowed it instead of saying, “no.”

At work, we let the line move towards shortcuts that allow us to avoid excellence because we accept the lies of mediocrity and status quo instead of the truth of our real potential. Others let the line move towards overload because we believe the lie that our identity comes from more compensation, praise, and a better position, so we strive for something else and miss excellence.

At home, we allow other people to set the line and let our schools, clubs, sports teams, hobbies, etc. distract us from our privilege and responsibility make sure our partner/children/grandchildren really are thriving.

In our communities, we let other people move the line towards values we don’t hold and decisions we don’t agree with because we are too busy or disinterested to be involved and make sure everyone else has the best opportunity to live in peace and fulfillment.

It happens because we don’t say “No.”
We don’t say, “No” because we don’t want the consequences.
Rosa Parks got arrested. Doing the right thing has to be worth the consequences or you will let other people move the line and you will never learn to say, “no” for the sake of your work, family or community.