Rules provide constraints in your life. Constraints help you focus. Focus provides clarity. Clarity helps you take badass actions.
So, I have created these rules in my life. They will inspire you to create a few for yourself.
Be Quiet Most of the Time
There is a lot of noisy attention-seeking. Gain massive attention and then have it taken away. This has happened to me. It taught me that fame and attention is a nightmare.
Be quiet more than you talk. When you do talk, make it worth it. Talk for a small few. Take to 1000 small fans.
Don’t be a Donald (Duck)…. quack, quack, quack, quack. Me, me, me, me.
Quietness is old school self-help.
Read A Lot
Measure the days you have left in the number of books you can read.
Books force you to imagine the images. Movies rob you of that gift. Movies are the heavily curated, edited version of a story. The book is the full story. The book is always better than the movie.
Read a lot to learn through other people’s stories. It’s easier than learning the hard way through failure.
Highlight Your Achievements with Grace
I met this guy. Let’s call him Finch. Finch started a fintech company from Silicon Valley. A friend asked me to help him. I offered to help. I spoke to Finch. All Finch could talk about was how great he was and how everybody wanted to marry his startup. They were less than 100 days old. A toddler.
I politely told Finch my employer wasn’t the right fit. I offered to refer him to a better fit who would easily be able to assist.
Finch was a dick about it. Finch called my boss’s boss and tried to outrank me. The boss rang me. I told them exactly what I told Finch. They went back to Finch and repeated my message. Finch didn’t take no for answer.
He kept flaunting his highlight reel to other people within the same company. His ego was in outrage mode. The boy who cried wolf about a startup was stuck in a deafening echo chamber of his own awesomeness.
Be graceful when describing what you do and how you can help the world. Grace buys you a lot of friends.
Avoid assholes at all costs.
Take Yourself Less Seriously
In your head, you’re the center of the universe. The sun revolves around your dreams. In reality this is a lie. You are an ant walking around a giant picnic ground full of other ants. There are billions of us.
When you think of yourself as an ant in a massive open world, you take yourself less seriously. Your opinion doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think. Your sweater with a cappuccino stain on it will probably go unnoticed.
Remember how small you are. It makes blow-ups easy to deal with.
Back Away from Negative Energy
Negative energy acts like a vacuum. It sucks you in. Quitting your addiction to negative energy is like quitting cigarettes. It takes time and discipline and a will to live.
Negative energy nukes your positive energy.
With positive energy you can do a lot more. Think about this: do you like hanging out with someone who blames and complains the whole time? Probably not. What do you end up doing? Replicating their behavior.
Optimism isn’t a magic gift you get from Oprah.
Optimism comes from backing away from negative energy, so you can save your precious positive energy.
Schedule Blank Space
Reverse engineer your calendar. Start with blank space and then paint in time to do work. The blank space helps you think about the work. Work that is thought about deeply has a much bigger impact. Work that is terrible in quality could have been better with more thinking.
Consume Less News, Politics, Netflix
News, Politics and Netflix are hamburgers for your life.
It’s okay to indulge in a hamburger every now and then. But if you eat hamburgers for every meal of the day, you’re going to get sick and suffer from a cow inflated potbelly.
The news is designed to sell you ads, not change your life for the better.
Politics is a bunch of glorified reality tv show actors who really have no idea how to run anything. They do the best they can. They are only motivated and incentivized to look four years into the future. Beyond that, it’s someone else’s problem. Spending a lot of time getting lost in politics distracts you from the impact you can have at the grass level. Politics generates rage, but rarely hope.
Netflix’s business model is to keep you addicted to the screen so they can pay the window cleaning bills for their tower.
Sure, take a load off and numb yourself with a sitcom. Just don’t let a screen take you away from the beautiful reality of living.
Make Friends with a Giraffe
A tall guy named Ben made me appreciate this rule. When I lost my job he invited me to his office. He told me to sit down and pretend I was working for myself while using his office. I had an office to go to even though I didn’t have a job. He took me out for lunch and paid for it, secretly, while I was in the bathroom.
He may be as tall as a giraffe, but his life carries a different meaning. He sees a person in trouble and quietly comes to the rescue. He doesn’t want anything in return. He just wants to see you stack up a few tiny wins.
People who build you up and rescue you from your struggles are incredible. Find them and hug em.
Buy Your Time Back
(This Changes Everything.)
You pay for possessions with your time.
Imagine going to work because you want to, not because you have to, to pay your bills. Expenses drain your time.
If you spent your money based on how much time you wanted to have, you would spend your money differently. Think about it like this:
You make enough money to cover your bills. You make enough money to pay off your shelter. Once you’ve done that, collecting a paycheck is an option not so much a necessity to survive. So if you decreased the cost of your bills and shelter, then you could escape the need for a paycheck faster. Now you’ve escaped the paycheck, work is an option.
When work is an option you look at it differently.
The work you do becomes about something more than money. You find meaning in your work. Your work gets better as a result. With this newer, higher quality work, your ability to earn a living from it is increased.
Before you know it you’re making more money than you got before because work is an option. You can quit. But you won’t.
These are the rules I live by to have what I call a ‘good life.’ They’re not fancy. They probably won’t make you a millionaire. You won’t find them on the cover of Success Magazine.
Let the rules you create for your life act like a compass, telling you where to go next. You can achieve any goal when you know roughly what direction to head in next.