Going back to court again… This time, it is the Supreme Court. The twin Winklevoss brothers just won’t give up. The real court case should be Winklevoss v. Shawshank to answer the question – when do you give up when pursuing a principle?

It is a matter of principle and reputation, right?

Most of you may have seen Shawshank Redemption in which Andy Dufresne claims his innocence throughout his prison term and, in the end, escapes to freedom. Andy never gave up and, almost 20 years later, gains some vindication to his situation. In this fictional story, his reputation was clearly at stake, and the principle was integrity – not being responsible for his wife’s death.

In the Winklevoss case, if you’ve seen The Social Network, you know they claim Facebook was their original idea. As they pursued this claim, they did win a $65 million award. Now, they are claiming that the valuation wasn’t correct; they deserve more. In this real story, their reputation issue is not clear-cut, other than being rfor the innovation behind the Facebook concept. The principle would be, essentially, getting what is theirs.

The question remains:  When do you give up or continue? The following framework may help.

The Shawshank Test Matrix

Simply stated, if what you are fighting or pursuing does not impact your principles and your reputation squarely, then it may be time to move on. There are more important life challenges to focus on than this one.

Too often, we get caught in a trap of thinking it is important, and we get muddled down and end up hurting ourselves more than what we could gain. It becomes no longer a matter of principle or reputation; it spirals into vindictiveness or pettiness.

In many cases, it isn’t necessarily a question of getting a second chance or gaining redemption. In some instances, it is, and we must fight continuously to protect a principle and re-gain our reputation. Other times, it is a question of moving forward with our principles and reputation generally intact while removing the danger of self-inflicting harm on either.

In my opinion, the Winklevoss case falls into the red areas of The Shawshank Test matrix, and they need to move on. Their reputation is being damaged by pursuing this case relentlessly, as they are being viewed as whiners or greedy. At this point, any principle has already been recognized and upheld. It is time to tackle another objective.

What do you think?