Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Ten Rules


A diversion into wisdom accumulated at great personal expense…


1. Never compromise on principles.

Nothing is more important than our principles. They are not mere guidelines or general precepts to be fudged when they become inconvenient or cumbersome. Principles are the guard rails in the journey of life. Principles can only be based on natural and moral Once we begin to negotiate on matters of principle we begin the decent into chaos. "God... has formed us moral agents... that we may promote the happiness of those with whom He has placed us in society, by acting honestly towards all, benevolently to those who fall within our way, respecting sacredly their rights, bodily and mental, and cherishing especially their freedom of conscience, as we value our own." [1]




2. Test your limits.

This is life and in life there are very few certainties outside of the realm of realms of physics and mathematics. One certainty that you can count on is risk. There is an degree of danger in nearly everything we do from eating breakfast in the morning to driving home from work. Risk is inherent in life. The other certainty is that no matter how careful one is eventually the life expectancy of everyone drops to zero. I can not think of a single individual who bettered themselves or the human species without sticking their neck out. If you spend a good part of your day thinking about how to avoid risk, you are more likely lulling yourself into an illusion of safety that is far more dangerous than acknowledging inherent risk. 




3. Understand that people seldom think outside their own heads.

People generally assume that everyone thinks just like they do. What we believe we naturally imagine others will believe. A thief will assume everyone else is stealing. A liar will always deduce that others are untrustworthy. A cheat will take for granted that everyone is a fraud.




4. Worry is pointless.

My father used to say, “Worry is interest paid on a debt not due”. He was right because all the worry in the world accomplishes nothing except cause stress.  Actions make things happen and if you are not prepared to take action, then you obviously do not care about whatever it is to worry. Either, take action to defuse the situation your worrying about, or move on to your next order of business.




5. Deeds not words.

Leave the mangling of words to the lawyers and politicians. When the silence returns their words leave no trace. Let your accomplishments stand as monuments of irrefutable truth and manifest wisdom. 





6. Never expect life to be fair.

Life isn't fair. Limit your use of the word fair to board games and a description of the weather. Each of us are born with different talents and limitations as humans. Accept this as a fact of life for the simple reason that it is a fact. Exploit your talents to the utmost in order to minimize your shortcomings.




7. Solve your own problems.

Never focus on problems as problems are and always will be problems. You can become bogged down and easily overwhelmed when you think in terms of problems. Only allow yourself to think in terms of long term solutions.




8. Be quick to decide.

General George S. Patton said: "A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow."




9. Focus on matter of significance.

Once you determine what is significant, you have also determined by exclusion that which is insignificant. Focusing your energy becomes much easier and productive when you pick your battles in this way.





10. Keep a sense of humor.

This is how we light a candle rather than curse the darkness. I subscribe to the theory that "We're not here for a long time; we're here for a good time." If you are not having a good time, you are doing something wrong. Count your blessings and be thankful for them.







References, Notations, and Other Accoutrements

1. Thomas Jefferson to Miles King, 1814. ME 14:197